The July 2014 issue of Seattle Business magazine has a list of the top 100 Best Companies To Work For
as determined by a survey of employees run by Fieldwork Webwork
. As the magazine article itself states "Firms that make the list get there because the people who work at those businesses like their jobs, their bosses and their benefits." In other words, the top 100 businesses have great Total Rewards as expressed by their employees in this survey.
There are a couple of notable omissions from the first paragraph of the article which starts on page 35...
1) There's no mention of the sample size or how the sample was determined.
After some more digging there is a statement on page 44 that states that "thousands of employees" were surveyed on the topics of "benefits, communications, corporate culture, hiring and retention, leadership of executive, performance standards, responsibility & decision making, rewards & recognition, training & education and workplace environment." So benefits is specifically called out. I'm not sure what performance standards is supposed to relate to, is it employee performance, organizational performance, some other type of performance? I don't know. And I guess pay is lumped into "Rewards & Recognition".
In Total Rewards parlance, there are five key factors: pay, benefits, recognition, learning & development and culture & work experience. I believe the survey's "rewards & recognition" actually covers all the other items in their list. But I digress.
2) There's no mention of pay!
Holy smokes, no mention of pay in an article of the "Best Businesses To Work For".
Well, I guess I shouldn't be that surprised. Most recent surveys of employee satisfaction point to things like working relationships and benefits packages as more highly engaging than pay. I always think of pay as the keys to entry. In most cases the base pay has to be competitive before other things like work life balance and working relationships come into play.
The survey reports results for three major categories of business:
Small = 1 to 30 employees
Midsize = 31 to 99 employees
Large = 100+ employees
I'm thinking that "humongous" firms such as Boeing, Microsoft, and Amazon were not part of this survey if large is considered to start at 100 employees.
The listing of the top businesses begins on page 44. A "top scoring category" is included for each of the top businesses. Here's a tally of the "top scoring categories" for the small, midsize and large lists.
Interesting that two top scoring categories across the board are "leadership of executive" and "work environment". The "performance standards" category didn't show up once. Maybe they should define that category a bit more. Benefits shows up in third place a couple of times. "Rewards & Recognition" barely makes a blip.
Here's a visual breakdown of the top scoring categories by business size.
These surveys always catch my eye and I end up buying the magazine. So kudos to Seattle Business. They achieved their goal. Also kudos to the firms that are on the list. Seriously, great job, because you're doing something right. It's no small feat to get outstanding results from a survey of your employees.
So what conclusions can we draw from these awards. People that go to work for smaller firms definitely value a specific mix of total rewards. An emphasis on great leadership, charisma, vision mixed with a great place to work with like minded individuals is going to succeed in garnering great feedback from that group.
I would guess that as the organization grows in size and the access an employee has to "leadership of executive" diminishes then other factors come into play. Factors such as stability and affordability of benefits, consistent and meaningful performance evaluation, and setting of clear and achievable work goals and measures. There are lots of examples available in magazines, journals and on the web to support this thinking but I'm primarily giving you my reaction based on 20+ years of experience.
For me it all comes down to creating a mix of total rewards that expresses the business philosophy, culture, goals that will attract, retain, and motivate employees to drive success of the business. It's different for every organization. Every organization, whether it's stated or implied, has those factors in place. The key is to manage the total rewards elements in a way that actually does support and drive success.