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Learn From the Best - Lessons of America’s Best Workplaces

culture Dec 12, 2017

In this blog, we talk a lot about how to make your workplace exceptional. At this point, you know that developing a high-trust, high-integrity company culture is huge in attracting the best talent and reducing voluntary turnover.

This month, I wanted to approach the topic from a slightly different lens. It’s one thing to talk about these values in the abstract, but I think it might be even more valuable to look at companies that are consistently ranked as the best workplaces in the country.

Your business may not be as large as some of these, but no matter your size, you can still apply the principles these leaders have used to great effect.

Zillow — Empowering Employees

Lloyd Frink and Rich Barton started the online real estate company Zillow in 2005. Today, the company has over $3 billion in assets.

Frink and Barton both have previous experience in the tech world, and they knew from the start that many companies in that sector have a tendency to grind down their employees. With Zillow, they wanted an entirely different culture.

Beginning in 2016, they created the role of head of people and culture, hiring Dan Spaulding to lead the way. [pullquote align="normal" cite="Dan Spaulding, Head of People and Culture- Zillow"]“Trust has to be at the center of everything we do, but it also comes back to treating people like adults, giving them choice, and living with the outcomes of treating people like adults.”[/pullquote]

Zillow’s six core values —

  1. Act With Integrity
  2. Move Fast; Think Big
  3. Own It
  4. Zillow Group Is a Team Sport
  5. Turn On the Lights
  6. Winning Is Fun

— all reflect on the pride the company takes in empowering its employees. If you’re not letting your employees act like talented adults, you’ll never get the best work from them.

Quicken Loans — Creative and Inclusive

Quicken Loans has been on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work list for 14 consecutive years. That doesn’t happen by accident. In the Great Place to Work institute’s ratings, they’ve scored above 90 percent in every category.

CEO Bill Emerson attributes their success to “hiring great people” and “setting them loose to create and innovate.”

Quicken also puts a real emphasis on diversity and never misses an opportunity to hype up their homebase of Detroit.

Another important factor in Quicken’s company culture is the value employees get from their work. Getting people into homes is important work, and Quicken is also a company with many philanthropic initiatives.

Emerson regards these qualities as paramount in creating a standout culture. “It is that passion for doing the right thing and caring about others,” he notes, “that lays the groundwork for our success.”

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. — Putting Employees First

The turnover for full-time employees at the beloved grocery store chain Wegmans is a staggeringly low 4 percent, nearly seven times less than the average retail establishment. Wegmans is a family company, and they treat their employees as such, with robust scholarship, employee development, and wellness programs.

They also offer an above-average 17 days of paid time off after one year of employment. Large retail chains are not generally known for treating employees so well, making Wegmans stand out in their sector. Their belief is that by putting employees first, customers will have a great experience in turn. There’s no denying that the philosophy is working.

The three companies above all work in very different industries and are spread across the country.

What they have in common, however, is their desire to define who they are and to create a high-value work environment from the top of the executive ladder all the way down to the employee starting their first day.

If you’re not thinking about how to do the same, you’ll never create a winning culture.