Building The Best Place To Work – Strong, Employee-Centric Core Values
Building a best place to work is easier than you think. With the right people and the right formula, any company can have the type of corporate culture that fosters employee retention and makes recruiting top talent easy.
I know because the company I’ve been helping build as director of business development for the past six years, Confirm BioSciences, has consistently won Best Place to Work awards on a local and national level from the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and Inc. magazine, respectively. It’s also grown by 300% in that time from 15 to more than 60 employees.
To build a best place to work, establish strong core values that put employees first and then stay true to those values.
Let’s take a closer look.
You need passion, trust & teamwork.
In startups, all employees must share a founder’s mentality of all hands on deck, meaning everyone has to be passionate about what the company does, they have to trust each other, and they must respect the value of teamwork.
Your company should have employee-centric values that allow for development and eschew micromanagement. Always put employees first, especially during times of rapid growth. Your team is the heartbeat of the entire organization and will set your pace and placement in your industry. Putting the focus on your employees and trusting them to make decisions will promote retention and help you with recruitment. If you take care of your employees, they’ll be the service-oriented representatives that your customers deserve.
Hand-select employees that embody the right corporate culture.
Every employee you hire should fit your corporate culture, especially when your company is still small, because the smaller your company, the more of your workforce each individual represents. For example, if you have four people in your company, each of them is 25% of your entire workforce. When an individual is one quarter or one-fifth of your workforce, you want to make sure that person is completely on board with your culture.
Hiring is one of the most important tasks for a young company and it should be given the time it deserves, so be intentional to ensure you are getting the right people. In time, these key hires will be senior leaders and stakeholders who represent your company on all levels.
Transparency is key.
Be honest with your employees, both when things are going well and when they aren’t. Be transparent about your company’s profitability and how it will affect them. Imagine that your company has a particularly profitable year. Your employees might be expecting a larger end-of-year bonus than the prior year. However, as a business owner, you might feel the extra profit could be better used to build a new facility to support growth or to expand employee benefits. Communicating throughout the year on this means they will value reinvestments to the company.
And when your company isn’t doing well, it’s much better for employees to hear not so great news from you, so as a team you can pivot and change tactics collectively to impact the organization. An open door (or inbox) will help solicit feedback and creative solutions that are fundamental for innovation and growth.
Empower your employees, allow flexibility & provide support in shifting roles.
Employees love new challenges and growing into expanded roles. Allow your team the flexibility to do that instead of trying to keep them in rigidly defined roles. They are the ones who have to fulfill the roles, so if they see a more efficient way of doing a task or they have a suggestion about something within the business, they should be encouraged to contribute their thoughts.
Support them with training and education so they can become experts in the roles and departments they are passionate about. Confirm BioSciences did not have the budget to hire seasoned veterans early on, so we had to develop our own experts internally, and it’s paid off for us. When you ensure the framework is in place, that makes it possible for knowledge transfers, increased training and education. You build a brain-trust of passionate and enabled specialists who will make it their mission to drive company growth in multiples.
In conclusion, remember that by establishing a strong and employee-centric corporate culture early on and fostering individual growth among your team members while keeping an open and transparent workplace, you can develop the type of company that wins those coveted Best Place to Work awards. Culture is not static, so encourage your team to evolve and reshape it within your mission to articulate the unique value your company represents to people. Keep your eyes forward and the collective engaged — you will have a truly amazing team founded with cultural foresight in mind, that lingers in the air whether you are present or not.
This guest post was authored by Sara Holtmeyer
Sara Holtmeyer is the director of business development at Confirm BioSciences, where she oversees all business development initiatives involving strategic market plans, product and platform development, launches, business and organizational operations, as well as partnerships.
Sara’s top interests include building relationships with customers and growing Confirm’s distributor base in key markets with customized client solutions across products, services, and technologies. As a key spokesperson of Confirm, Sara represents the company on the public front with a presence at national conferences, trade shows, and speaking engagements.
Additionally, with a passion for sustainability, she serves as Confirm’s Green Eco Ambassador. Before her career at Confirm, Sara worked in client services and project management at ENCO Pharmaceutical Development, Inc. Prior, Sara studied anthropology at the University of North Florida, and is also certified in business strategy and competitive advantage from Cornell University. Outside of the office, Sara is likely to be on a new adventure traveling, dancing, hiking with her dog, or enjoying a glass of sweet iced tea.