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Good companies know how to make work a better place [by Michael Kinsman] If creating great places to work was rocket science, there would be many more inspired workplaces.
But it isn’t rocket science. It’s much more complicated.
solution,” Owens says. “But we know from
lives while they’re working, it makes them ap-
surveys how highly our workers value that
preciate the job a little more,” Whiteley says.
benefit so we look for other ways to save money.”
Intuit also allows workers 32 hours of paid time off each year to contribute to community
That’s the thing every well-intentioned company learns when it sets out to create an en-
It is the attention to survey results and the
groups or causes they believe in. Whiteley
vironment that motivates workers to perform
later follow-up that help Qualcomm and oth-
says allowing individuals to choose the cause
at their highest levels and to entice others to
ers on the Fortune list stand apart. But no two
enhances the value of the benefit.
corporate strategies are alike.
There is no magic formula, no equation that
“We’re always looking for ‘differentiators,’‚“
can’t give them everything they want,” White-
logically computes success.
says Owens. “We look for the things we can do
ley says. “At our corporate office, we have a
that differentiates our company from others.”
farmers market twice a month. Our employees
“Sometimes you listen to the employees but
like it so much they want it here every day, but
“We put a lot of energy around the employee
that’s just not possible.”
experience and how we can improve it,” says
Sometimes, those can be surprising. Qual-
Ann Owens, a vice president at Qualcomm,
comm, long a proponent of carpooling, has a
which ranked No. 23 this year on Fortune
fleet of vehicles available during the day for
What successful companies seem to know
magazine’s annual list of “100 Best Compa-
carpool workers who need to run errands on
is that being attuned to employee wants and
nies to Work For.”
their lunch hours. The borrowed car program
desires is more effective than just throwing
gets high marks in employee surveys.
money into the benefit pool. Both Qualcomm and Intuit say that some benefits cost very
“Even with that effort, you’re never quite sure what will work,” she said.
Intuit, which has 1,000 employees in San Di-
little but have a big impact; neither company
ego, was No. 43 on Fortune’s 2006 list. Execs
revealed how much they spend.
San Diego-based Qualcomm has made
at the tax software company also say they pay
Fortune’s list before, as well as other similar
particular attention to employee surveys.
Even small benefits can make a difference.
compilations. “There’s a lot of two-way communication in
The environmentally sensitive shoe company
The wireless technology developer under-
our company, and we encourage that at all
Timberland offers workers a $3,000 subsidy
stands that it needs creativity to thrive and
levels,” says Sherry Whiteley, Intuit’s senior
if they buy a gas-electric hybrid car; drug
to do that it needs a workplace that inspires
vice president for human resources. “Our
giant Eli Lilly offers a month of paid vacation
employees and makes their lives easier and
employees definitely feel comfortable letting
to pregnant workers before they give birth
their voices be heard.”
and Worthington Industries offers $4 on-site
In its Jan. 23 print issue, Fortune identifies
Mountain View, Calif.,-based Intuit often
haircuts. Qualcomm as one of 14 companies on its 2006
responds to what employees want at individual
The secret to a great workplace seems to be
list that provide medical insurance cover-
locations. That’s why the San Diego location
respecting employees and valuing their ideas
age free of charge to employees and their
has access to dry cleaning, car washes and oil
on how to make work a better place.
changes on site during the work day - all at discounted rates.
health care, and you immediately think that
“We’ve found that if you can help remove
having employees share in the cost is a good
some of the chores people have to do in their
There’s no science involved, just an attitude that workers matter.
“From time to time, we look at the cost of
© Copley News Service
Published on Oct 31, 2012
We put a lot of energy around the employee experience and how we can improve it, says Ann Owens, a vice president at Qualcomm. Fortune magaz...