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7 Essentials of a Great Place to Work

March 8, 2021 SHIFT

7 Essentials of a Great Place to Work: A cozy group photo of employees

After receiving the award for Inc. Best Workplaces for the third time in 2019, we decided to take a look back and examine all the things we feel makes SHIFT a successful workplace.

Each year, Inc. Magazine surveys more than 100,000 U.S. employers to find the nation’s best places to work. For the third consecutive year, SHIFT has ranked among the best— earning national recognition as an Inc. Best Workplace.

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At SHIFT, we model the way for our clients — helping them build companies worth celebrating. Here’s a peek into our processes to help you create a truly great place to work (one that people can’t stop talking about).

The Seven Essential Qualities of a Great Place to Work:


1. A Culture of Care

In SHIFT’s Inc Best Workplace review, “caring” was the word most used to describe our company — and it speaks volumes.

Employees in a high-trust culture, who believe they’re part of a caring workplace, are also 44 percent more likely to work for a company with above-average revenue growth. Why such a dramatic correlation? A culture of caring is an engagement-trifecta:

  1. Leaders show employees they’re valued
  2. Employees care for each other and your clients
  3. The entire organization cares that their shared vision is realized

2. Promote Clear Definitions of Success

What does success look like in a certain role? What are the clear indicators of company success? What skills can help you become more successful? A great place to work will provide a crystal-clear definition for each. These benchmarks for success are found in quarterly or annual employee goals, departmental goals, and company goals. Timely reviews and regular syncs ensure employees feel their priorities match expectations. These progress checks should be backed by outlets for educational growth:

  • Consider offering tuition reimbursement or on-the-job training
  • Connect employees with online educational platforms (Udemy, Coursera, etc.)
  • Encourage managers to develop professional development plans for employees

When employees know what it means to be successful (and how they can get there) they feel empowered to show up as their best selves each day.

3. Leaders That Embrace a “Compass” Identity

Strong leadership is a given for a great place to work; however, it’s only effective when visible. Your leadership team should take a uniformed stance that is clearly communicated and accessible to employees. Institute open door policies, regularly sync as an organization (all hands, town hall meetings, etc.), and identify a shared vision that is authentic and consistent. Leaders should act as a compass and position their employees for what’s ahead.

Joe Mechlinski, CEO of SHIFT, records regular “CEO riff” videos to keep the team aligned and inspired by what’s ahead. They feature team member shout outs, the latest news and doses of inspiration and insight. 

4. Flexibility

Scroll through any list of “great places to work” and you’re sure to see flexibility. Employees lives are no longer dictated by the hands of the clock, the ability to embrace flexible work schedules and choose to work remotely is critical. With the advancements in technology, historic limitations to a flexible work environment have quickly dissipated.

5. Encourage an Intrapreneurial Mindset

Give employees the freedom to chart their own course within your organization. Encourage them to speak up when gaps arise or when their passions can breed way to innovation within your business. Let your people’s inherit skills and abilities guide their career path.

6. Robust Non-Compensation Benefits

In 2018, approximately 40 percent of employees left within 12 months of being hired (even though average salaries peaked that year). It was the highest first-year turnover rate in eight years. This trend has since dramatically increased to the point where research suggests more than one in three workers will voluntarily quit by 2023.

Here’s the hard truth: today, employees need more than a competitive salary to feel valued at work. They can find that almost anywhere. Comprehensive non-compensation, like regular recognition and strategic perks, are the new pulls for top talent. Here are a few practices we use at SHIFT, and within our clients, to ensure our employees always feel valued:

  • “Thankful Thursday” - a weekly practice where an employee is showered praise
  • Quarterly employee engagement surveys to ensure our initiatives
  • Bi-annual paid SHIFT You days, so our employees can focus on their whole self

 7. Stand for Something More

At SHIFT, we believe business can spark the change we wish to see in the world. As an organization, you can go beyond profits to create a shared experience that your employees and your customers are proud to champion.

This “something more” will show up in your mission, vision, and values. They establish a unified culture that’s driven by a clear understanding of what drives you. Your mission, vision and values act as a guide and add value to the employee experience while igniting new opportunities for your business.


Ensure Your Employees are Working Well

No matter if your organization is entirely remote or has already returned to the office, it’s important to foster engagement, performance, and well-being within your team. There’s no manual, however, on how to lead through change. That’s why we’ve put together the Working Well Survey—to help you better understand your employees’ work experiences so you can better show up for their current needs.

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