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Best Places to Work in Illinois 2015

As it has for the past 10 years, the Daily Herald Business Ledger has published a list of the “Best Places to Work in Illinois” for 2015.  The “Best Places to Work” program is managed by the Best Companies Group (BCG) of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  BCG administers this program not only in Illinois, but in many other states around the country as well.  BCG provides detailed employee surveys to each participating company, tabulates the results of those surveys, and determines which of the participating companies scored high enough to be included on the “Best Places to Work in Illinois” list.  For the companies who choose to participate in the program, there is some time, effort, and expense involved, so I read through some of the comments from the “Best Places to Work” firms hoping to find out why they bothered.  What did they hope to get out of it?  I also wanted to find out if there are any cultural themes held in common by the “Best Places” companies.  Please read on and I’ll share what I learned.

Best Places to Work in Illinois 2015

First, as you might expect, there’s a certain amount of altruism at work here.  I spoke with several CEOs who put their companies into the “Best Places to Work” program and they told me they participated simply because it was the right thing to do.  However, there are some sound business benefits that come out of it as well. 

Better customer service.  Southwest Airlines believes that the best way to put their customers first is to put their employees first.  Their belief is that happy, engaged employees will provide a high level of customer service.  The participants in “Best Places to Work in Illinois” seem to share that belief.

Reduced turnover.  When people find a place they enjoy and where they are treated well, they tend to stay longer.  Simple as that.

Higher productivity.  With less turnover, you have more experienced people doing the work rather than trainees who are learning while trying to get up to speed.

Easier recruiting.  No mystery here.  When you have a reputation for being a great place to work, you’ll have a drawer full of applications and resumes from people who want to work for you.

So what, if anything, do these “Best Place to Work” have in common.  What cultural norms or belief systems do they share?  Of course, they are committed to providing the best employee benefits they can, but there are several other characteristics of “Best Places” companies that are equally important.

According to Radio Flyer (manufacturer of the iconic toy red wagon), it’s all about creating an environment where people can do meaningful work and have their contributions valued and recognized.  That seemed to be a common theme with many of the “Best Places” participants.

Many of the participants mentioned “creating a family environment” at work.  Through social activities, team-building events, and training exercises, they want employees to form close, lasting relationships.

A number of participants cited community involvement as something that contributes to their “Best Places to Work” stature.  This could be in the form of financial contributions to local community institutions, or it could be giving employees paid time off to do charitable volunteer work.  Either way, employees like being associated with a company that helps improve the communities they live in.

There are lots of other things companies do (or don’t do) to land them of the “Best Places” list, but these seemed to be the main recurring themes.  If you want to see the entire “Best Places to Work in Illinois” list, or if you want to learn more about some of the companies on it, see the June 22, 2015 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger.  Who knows?  If you think you have the right stuff, maybe your company’s name will be on the list next year.

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