Here you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding our products and services, and the case for creating a great workplace.

What is a Winning Workplace?

Why should I create a Winning Workplace?

You say that organizations with great workplaces financially outperform those that do not have such workplaces. Why would this be?

Winning Workplaces talks about “trusting” employees, but if I do, won’t employees take advantage of me?

I don’t have a lot of money to spend on workplace programs and practices. Can I still improve my workplace?

I’m an entrepreneur. Between trying to raise capital, get my product to market, and deal with a thousand other things, I don’t have time to spend on trying to develop a great workplace. Are there things I can do that don’t take a lot of time?

I’m a human resources professional who is concerned about my company’s workplace environment. How do I get senior management to pursue some of the practices that you advocate?

I’m interested in creating a Winning Workplace. Where should I start?

Do I need to implement all of the programs in the Tool Kit book?

What is a Winning Workplace?
A Winning Workplace is one that, for example:

  • Gives employees ownership over their work and empowers them to make a difference.
  • Creates and communicates a compelling vision for their people, providing employees with a sense of meaning and purpose in their jobs.
  • Recognizes and celebrates workers’ accomplishments.
  • Openly and honestly shares business information and challenges with employees, and engages them in the decision-making process.
  • Understands and addresses employees as whole individuals with lives outside of work.
  • Creates an environment of esprit de corps that boosts morale and an acceptance of change.

Each of these qualities embodies one or more of what our founders discovered, through research and personal experience, to be the six core Building Blocks of a Winning Workplace:

  • Trust, Respect & Fairness
  • Open Communications
  • Rewards & Recognition
  • Teamwork & Involvement
  • Learning & Development
  • Work/Life Balance

Winning Workplaces was created to provide small and midsized organizations with the tools and information necessary to strengthen these core components of today’s successful organization.

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Why should I create a Winning Workplace?
Aside from the obvious societal benefits of creating an employee-friendly workplace, there is a growing body of evidence which suggests a strong correlation between business performance and sound people practices. For example, between 1997 and 2003, the stock of the companies identified in Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” list outperformed that of the Standard and Poor’s 500 by over 430 percent. Other studies have revealed that investments in people yielded higher productivity gains than investments in capital equipment and a strong correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.

For additional information on the return on investment of progressive people practices, go to our Competitive Advantages section of the site. You can also find information on individual programs in the Research Studies  section of our library. Individual case studies are available in the Success Stories section of the site.

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You say that organizations with great workplaces financially outperform those that do not have such workplaces. Why would this be?
Organizations that view employees as an expense rather than as a valuable resource tend to incur a number of unintended costs. These include excessive absenteeism, higher rates of burnout, increased incidents of product defects, poor customer service and higher turnover. The cost of replacing a worker ranges anywhere from 50-150 percent of the employee’s annual salary when you factor in such things as a loss of intellectual capital, the fees associated with recruiting and training someone new, and productivity lost due to others having to pick up the slack for a departed employee.

Perhaps most damaging are the missed opportunities that result from a dysfunctional workplace — missed opportunities to introduce new efficiencies, missed opportunities to innovate and missed opportunities to attract key talent.

Conversely, organizations that make a conscious effort to invest in their people tend to benefit from higher levels of employee engagement. According to a 2001 study by the Hay Group, engaged employees exert more of what they call “discretionary effort.” In other words, they work harder. A 2004 Hewitt study found a strong correlation between employee engagement and growth. Finally, organizations that are known to have a good workplace tend to be viewed more positively in the marketplace.

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Winning Workplaces talks about “trusting” employees, but if I do, won’t employees take advantage of me?
In today’s economy, success depends on innovation and the ability to adapt to change. Neither of these qualities is possible if employees are not trusted to do their work. Micromanagement stifles creativity and fosters an atmosphere of rigidity. The best organizations create a partnership with their employees, engaging them in the problem-solving and decision-making processes. This, however, does not mean giving employees free range over your business. The most effective organizations create a culture of trust with accountability. You cannot have one without the other. Employees should know what is expected of them and be given the autonomy and tools necessary to meet those expectations. At the same time, there must be consistently applied consequences for not meeting expectations. For individual examples of organizations that have benefited from creating an atmosphere of trust, see our Success Stories.

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I don’t have a lot of money to spend on workplace programs and practices. Can I still improve my workplace?
Yes. One of the most common misconceptions about creating a great workplace is that it costs a lot of money. In fact, there are number of improvements that cost little to no money. These include such things as:

  • Creating and communicating a compelling vision for your company that provides employees with a sense of meaning and purpose in their work.
  • Sharing information with them about the company’s goals, strategies, challenges and financials.
  • Involving employees in decision-making processes.
  • Recognizing employees in non-monetary ways for their contributions and accomplishments.
  • Celebrating individual, team and organizational successes.

In addition, there are a number workplace programs that are either inexpensive or provide enough return on investment to pay for themselves. For example, a 21-year study by the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center found that wellness programs produced cost savings of $3 for every dollar spent, positively impacting workplace stress, absenteeism and employee morale. Childcare and eldercare benefits have been found to reduce absenteeism and turnover while increasing productivity. Studies of other work/life programs such as flexible scheduling and convenience services have yielded similar results. Programs addressing issues of trust, respect and fairness; open communication; rewards and recognition; teamwork & involvement; and learning and development are known to improve retention and employee engagement, saving your organization money while making it more effective.

Of course, creating a great workplace is a fluid and ongoing process. Our Tool Kit book contains a grid which details the costs of each program. Start with the programs you feel you can most readily afford and best address your workplace needs. You can always add additional programs at a later date.

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I’m an entrepreneur. Between trying to raise capital, get my product to market, and deal with a thousand other things, I don’t have time to spend on trying to develop a great workplace. Are there things I can do that don’t take a lot of time?
Running a small or midsized business is incredibly demanding. Many workplace changes will require an investment of time and commitment, though some of the most effective improvements are cultural in nature and require adjusting how you do things rather than what you do. As “best practice” companies have demonstrated time and again, it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference. Perhaps the biggest step is creating an environment of trust and you can do that by sharing more information with your people and involving them in the transformation of your workplace. Ask them their opinions on those issues that most affect their work, and thank them for a job well done.

It is also important to remember that creating a winning workplace can lead to new efficiencies, which could save you time going forward. Finally, it is important to prioritize. Talk to your people and find out what issues are most important to them and will best help them in their jobs. Winning Workplaces can assist you in determining the most pressing issues in your workplace through Employee Opinion Surveys or Employee Focus Groups. We can also advise you on how to best implement any of our Tool Kit programs.

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I’m a human resources professional who is concerned about my company’s workplace environment. How do I get senior management to pursue some of the practices that you advocate?
It is important to show senior management that workplace issues are not soft, but an integral part of running a successful business. Provide your senior managers with the return on investment of improving the workplace by gathering metrics that demonstrate the costs of employee turnover and the correlation between employee satisfaction and quality of service. We offer a seminar on this issue entitled “Demonstrating Value: Making the Cold, Hard Business Case for Creating A Great Workplace.” You can find additional information on the return on investment of progressive people practices in the Competitive Advantages section of the site. Our library includes Research Studies and Articles that can help you make the case for individual practices and programs. Finally, a number of case studies are available in the Success Stories section of our site.

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I’m interested in creating a Winning Workplace. Where should I start?
The best place to start is by soliciting feedback from your employees. They are on the front lines and understand better than anyone what is and is not working in your workplace. Employee Opinion Surveys and Employee Focus Groups are great ways to gather honest feedback from your people. Employee Forums can be an effective means of creating an ongoing dialogue with your staff about how to create a workplace that best suits your organization’s needs.

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Do I need to implement all of the programs in the Tool Kit book?
No, but it is important to remember that no single program is a silver bullet that will create a great workplace. What’s most important is creating a culture where employees feel engaged and are empowered to make a difference. The programs described in our Tool Kits can help in creating that kind of culture, but it takes commitment on the part of management and communication with employees to affect meaningful change in the workplace.

Our collection of Tool Kits is organized according to what we have identified as the six fundamental Building Blocks of a great workplace:

  • Trust, Respect & Fairness
  • Open Communications
  • Rewards & Recognition
  • Teamwork & Involvement
  • Learning & Development
  • Work/Life Balance

Because the six Building Blocks work together to support a great workplace, you may wish to do an audit of the programs and policies that you already have in place to determine where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Focus your investment in shoring up the weakest programs or policies.

We strongly recommend gathering feedback on your organization’s strengths and weaknesses before you begin to offer new programs. Winning Workplaces can help you gather that data through our Employee Opinion Survey or by conducting Employee Focus Groups with a representative sample of your staff. Our survey is designed around the six Building Blocks, and the results can help you direct your actions and identify tool kits and programs that will be helpful to you.

If, based on these assessments, you want to enhance a particular Building Block, review all of the Tool Kits that support that issue and select one or two that would work best in your organization. If budget is a concern, you may want to start by considering the most affordable Tool Kits to implement. Any initiative can enrich your organization, but we recommend that you be mindful of the various Building Blocks and develop programs that complement one another.

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