To the Point

Workplace Standouts

With the economic outlook starting to improve, a good number of U.S. workers are getting the itch to change jobs. Is your organization doing all it can to retain top talent and attract new stars?

When reviewing top companies profiled in lists like Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” you always come across such enviable perks as on-site child care, yoga classes, paid gym memberships, free meals, and more. But you don’t need an on-site four-star restaurant to create a culture that supports work/life balance and career development, and gives employees an active role in your organization’s success.

Take a look at these innovative ideas at top-rated companies – some that won’t break the bank – spotted on this year’s Fortune list and in other media:

Cross it off your list. Let’s face it, when employees are stressed or distracted by issues in their personal lives, they’re not going to do their best work. Bristol-Myers Squibb offers a trusted resource and referral service to help their workers address those concerns. No matter what time of day, employees can call or email to get connected with a counselor to talk about their relationships, a financial expert to discuss their kids’ bar mitzvahs, or a geriatric expert to find elder care for parents.

Don’t work too much. Have you ever wanted to raise your hand and inform your boss how many hours you’ve been putting in lately? At Boston Consulting Group, you don’t have to – they do it for you. The management consulting firm helps employees maintain work/life balance by issuing “red-zone reports” when individuals are working too many long weeks. Also, new consultants can delay their start date by six months and receive $10,000 to volunteer at a nonprofit.

Make connections. Digital advertising firm Digitas helps keep employees connected – and in touch with their personal goals and interests – simply by organizing company-based affinity groups. Take the Chicago office of 420 employees, which has 28 such groups for runners, photographers, Weight Watchers members, rock ‘n’ rollers (complete with their own band), and euchre (card game) players. The effort doesn’t cost a dime, and the end result is more connected and content employees.

Lock your doors. Who says a closed door doesn’t lead to more opportunities? Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is well-known for his efforts to create a company culture that “delivers happiness.” So it might seem counterintuitive that the company would lock doors on three sides of one of its buildings from the outside, forcing employees to walk around the building to go through one main entry door. The result, however, is more face-to-face interactions in the main lobby. And that helps create better relationships and more opportunities to collaborate.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.