Improving Lives, Improving Our Companies

I suspect that most of the firms on Fortune magazine’s annual list of the “Best Companies to Work For” would also make anyone’s tabulation of “Best Companies to Deal With.” It follows that employees who enjoy their jobs and are aware of their employers’ mission, capabilities and goals will do their best to keep customers satisfied and, thereby, generate repeat business and referrals. So, the next logical assumption is that companies that are good to work for have happy, productive employees, which leads to satisfied customers and, therefore, are also the best companies to own.

What makes a company good to work for? Fortune scores firms in four areas: credibility (communication to employees), respect (opportunities and benefits), fairness (compensation, diversity), and pride/camaraderie (philanthropy, celebrations, etc.). Two-thirds of the total score comes from the employees themselves, in response to questions about such things as attitudes toward management and job satisfaction.

A significant finding has been confirmed with each annual survey: While inadequate compensation is definitely a turnoff for workers, what they value most is the satisfaction of being recognized for their individual contributions within the framework of a congenial team, not the perks that come with the job.

Therefore, in my company, we capitalize on every growth opportunity by encouraging and supporting the talents and potential of our employees. I know other success-oriented contractors do the same. Keeping employees informed about developments and trends that affect the company is part of empowering creativity and creating an environment for continuous improvement. Obviously, providing appropriate professional development opportunities plays a big role.

But the little things that show we care about employees as human beings and that we recognize they have lives outside the work environment count, too.

In last month’s column, I told you about one of the little things my company does. At the end of each year, around the holiday season, we give each employee a list of ways to improve their lives. It’s nothing earth-shattering, just a collection of random common-sense suggestions. But, I think it helps show that we care. I also think it provides food, or at least some tasty tidbits, for thought.

I presented a few of these morsels last time. Before I resume commenting on the more serious aspects of electrical contracting next month, please enjoy, in no particular order, the remainder.

• Play more games and read more books than you did in 2010.
• Take a 10–30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate antidepressant.
• Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
• Buy a DVR and record your late-night shows, so you can get more sleep.
• Dream more while you are awake.
• Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat fewer foods that are manufactured in plants.
• Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed-out charge card.
• Realize that life is a school, and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away, like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
• Smile and laugh more. It will keep the blues away.
• Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
• Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
•You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
• Make peace with your past, so it won’t spoil the present.
• Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
• No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
• Forgive everyone for everything.
• What other people think of you is none of your business.
• However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
• Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
• Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
• Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
• No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
• Call your family often. (Or e-mail them to death!)
• Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: “I am thankful for ______.” “Today I accomplished ______.”
• Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
• Your goals and your “comfort zone” will always be in conflict.
• Commit to writing your personal and professional goals; 94 percent of written goals are accomplished.
• Live with the 3 Es—energy, enthusiasm and empathy.
• The best is yet to come. ]

About the Author

Rex A. Ferry

NECA President
Rex Ferry was president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) from 2009 through 2011 and contributed the President's Desk column monthly.

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