by Michelle Steffes

Is West Michigan, and more specifically, Grand Rapids a great place to work? I posed this question to Google and was intrigued by the answer that came in the form of many articles and ratings.  I immediately spotted many West Michigan household names of employers such as Amway, Meijer, Gordon Food Service, Spartan Stores and Best Buy,  just to name a few.

So what are these employers offering their teams that others are not? What are they doing to create a stronger positive than negative ratio of reviews? In looking over the statistics, along with my personal knowledge of these companies, I discovered a few common denominators:

1)    They are people focused – They have programs, benefits and/or training practices set up to specifically target employee engagement with the intent of imparting value to their team members.

2)    They require a standard of excellence – working for companies that aspire to excellence means strong work ethic requirements and potential company growth. Generally, this equates to being on a winning team with room for advancement.

3)    They believe in promoting integrity from the top down – Integrity protects, empowers and increases the likelihood of a noble working environment. A critical component which, when adhered to, benefits leaders, workers and consumers in many ways.

4)    They have Vision – “Without Vision, the people perish,” says a familiar quote from the Bible (Proverbs 29:18). It sounds like overkill (no pun intended) yet there is so much truth in it. Whether it is a military mission, a football game or a place of employment, when those involved do not know the goal or mission, it can be chaos and destruction for all.

Granted, all perception is based on experience, the point I hope you do not overlook is this:  West Michigan employers who are continually taking action to increase such practices can find greater employee satisfaction than those who are not. In fact, the results can produce higher employee morale, lower turn-over and much higher productivity. Unfortunately, when the bottom line becomes the bigger focus, investing in a strong team tends to be put on the back burner. Yet, employers who do see the value in people building can experience, you guessed it… higher profits and customer satisfaction!   In the words of Zig Ziglar:

“You don’t build a business –you build people– and then people build the business.”

Worker Stats Worker Stats

I shared in my last GRAPE article on “Workplace Trends in 2014” that the majority of employees are disengaged or actively disengaged, but there are solutions. To simplify, I am offering you a few links and a few ideas to help you decide what would fit your style, budget and organization best:

1)    Write and/or Impart the Vision to your team threading it through all policies and incentives and using it as a tool to inspire them. It needs to become a clear goal for all.

2)    Offer Acknowledgement and Appreciation on a consistent basis

·            Email or Mobile Text blasts to acknowledge the accomplishments of team or individual goals. The technology now available for this kind of communication is fantastic and can also be used for announcements or even customer appreciation.

·            Webinars or Virtual Rooms offered on a weekly or daily basis for the first 10 -15 minutes of the day to inspire, excite, encourage and empower your teams. These tools have become so versatile in what can be uploaded on them and can access everyone on the team no matter where they are.

·            Be collaborative and interactive in all training, meetings and decision making as much as it is possible with your teams. Employees, who feel involved in the solutions, feel a part of the success making them highly motivated!

·            Hand written thank you notes or spoken words of encouragement frequently – Two important rules: be specificand be prompt to offer them or they will not be effective.

Obviously, salary, benefits and other perks are extremely important in motivating people to perform well. However, Gallup surveyed thousands of employees and found that 85% stated they long to be acknowledged and appreciated for their contributions. When people feel valued, the results always speak for themselves.

West Michigan truly has created some strong teams producing some amazing headlines in Grand Rapids and surrounding cities. But, I wonder, could we do more?

Michelle L Steffes
IPV Consulting