Building a Best Place to Work

For me, reading mail is usually a pretty mundane task. Most of the good stuff has already been sorted out, leaving me a pile of junk mail rarely deserving of more than a quick glance and a toss in the trashcan. So when I came across a single envelope laying face-down on my desk last week, I set it aside to read later and moved on to more pressing matters.

You can imagine the excitement I felt that evening when I opened that envelope to find a letter announcing Synapse Marketing Solutions was honored as one of Pennsylvania’s 100 Best Places to Work in 2012. Being recognized as a great place to work is, in a way, more personal than receiving recognition for our marketing campaigns or websites, because this award is based on how Synapse’s employees feel about working here. It means they believe our dedication to creating a positive, satisfying work environment is more than just a mission statement on our walls; it’s a commitment lived each day.

This is a pretty big deal for me as CEO, and for good reason. Not only does it mean that our employees are happy working here, it means they feel satisfied and that we are working toward our future together. I can’t think of better peace of mind for our clients than to know the people they work with closely are happy in their careers and empowered to help them succeed. And, it sure makes attracting top talent a little easier, too.

So, how did we create an environment that fosters creativity and innovation while managing the hurdles that come with tremendous growth? Here are a few nuggets:

  1. Define success. Share your vision with your employees. Do you want to be the biggest? The best? The cheapest? The fastest? How you define success for your company will color the lens through which your employees see their work world. Then preach it from the mountain tops. Strong beliefs are infectious.
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  3. How do I fit in? Employees want to know how their role and decisions impact the company, its customers, and its bottom line. If employees understand what is expected of them and how their actions affect others, they gain a bellwether for future decision-making. When people feel like they are part of a team, they act like teammates – helping each other when challenges arise and celebrating victories when goals are accomplished.
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  5. Embrace mistakes. No one likes to screw up. Yet, if no one in your company is making mistakes, you either employ robots or they are really good at hiding problems from you. Being a leader means being approachable, even when bad news is being delivered. Mistakes will happen anytime you embark on something new or cutting-edge – and the quicker you make mistakes (and learn from them), the better off you’ll be in the long-run. If you aren’t making mistakes, you may not be trying hard enough.
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  7. Give feedback and opportunities. Good employees yearn to know how to become great employees. By providing constructive feedback, adequate training opportunities and room to develop professionally and personally, you are investing in them as people. Our experience proves that the more you invest in people, the healthier (and happier) your company will become.
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  9. Build fun into your culture. Off-site events aren’t the only way to have fun. We’ve hunted eggs at Easter (for money!), thrown surprise baby showers, pigged out at ice cream socials, taken trivia breaks, hosted pot-luck lunches and fired up the grill on Fridays. Work is stressful, so take a break once in awhile and enjoy your co-workers’ company. It sure makes the long hours a little easier to bear. Take a minute or five each day to have some fun!
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  11. Show appreciation. Never miss an opportunity to recognize the things that your employees do to create a successful workplace. Whether it’s landing a big account or finishing a 5K, if it’s important to your employees, it should be important to you. Celebrate your successes!
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  13. Ask how you can be better. Everyone has a good idea or two, and when they let it out, make sure they know it’s heard. A good idea turns into a game-changer with a healthy dose of action. It’s satisfying for an employee to see an idea they offered then turn into a new product, fix an ongoing problem or make a process more efficient. Listening to your employees shows them that their opinions count, and that they matter.

For me, listing seven items can’t quite explain all the ingredients that make Synapse a Best Place to Work. We are humbled and honored to have been picked as one of the elite employers in the state of Pennsylvania. But far beyond the recognition that comes from being a part of this exclusive group is my unwavering belief that Synapse’s most important assets pack up every day at six o’clock and drive home to their families. Without the tireless dedication of a very special group of people – the Synapsians – we would just be a place to work.

They are what makes it the ‘Best’.

 

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