How and Why A Company 1/3 Your Size Is Going to Have Your Marketplace for Lunch

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Editors Note: We like to celebrate innovation and thought leadership in the human resources world even if it doesn’t address background checks and employment screening. Robert Schepens, CEO of Champion Staffing recently wrote the book, “The Great Workplace 2.0” and we think you’ll enjoy this excerpt as well as the overall concept of tomorrow’s great workplace.

Excerpts from the Book: The Great Workplace 2.0™ by Robert Schepens

A Great Workplace functions at a higher level of purpose and productivity and is a more interesting place to work than other “normal” organizations. It attracts great talent and it attracts great results…for the customer. It extends its intelligent self-interests beyond the executive suite into the depths of its own employment, into the rich treasure troves of vendor knowledge, the community and to other “Participants”. It reaches out to the crowd within its community for solutions. It simply does not adhere to the old model of corporate hierarchy and held power. The Great Workplace of today invites being benchmarked, but is always one step beyond being so static that its definitions are fluid.

The Great Workplace 2.0 is in fact a fluid community. It interacts with its participants and creates communication avenues that foster the immediate interaction of questions, ideas, opinions and therefore solutions or opportunities. It has substantially removed the obstacles to Open Innovation and discouraged most linear or legacy ideals. It uses knowledge gained through more “open-invitation” processes and feeds upon the rich knowledge and input from all sources that touch the organization. It is both created on and by purpose and has the ability to change its tactical or strategic directions quickly. The corporate legacy model focused upon impressive-sounding “Mission Statements” and “shareholder return” (regardless of what that meant). In many circumstances, businesses were operated not because they really wanted to, but because they “should”. They sustained themselves because there were stock certificates to support.

That old model was built upon relative size and the ability to do things for ITSELF on a grand scale: benefits, bonuses, unions, giveaways, charitable donations, dividends and having employees see their company in print or in TV ads. If you work for Shell Oil or for General Motors you must work for a great company. We feted big companies as “great” workplaces because they flowed forth with great benefits, nominally gave away their services as charity and in general treated employees as cats in Pharaoh’s chambers. Just the mention of “I work for National City Bank” meant something impressive. It was akin to saying that you attended Notre Dame while the Fighting Irish were a national football powerhouse. The “aura” was the value. The old model created strong Tribes and the reputation of that Tribe became the recipient of all things corporate.

But while employers reveled in being big and powerful, the very nature of WORK, who does it, where, why and with whom has been changing dramatically and forever. The “Social Contract” with employers and workers has changed. The “workplace” is no longer just hired employees and employer. It is no longer a space confined to a legacy corporate structure. And that has dramatically changed the way people and executives look at Great Places To Work, and in turn Great Workplaces.

The focus, in a highly productive company, has shifted to PURPOSE: both from an individual point of view and a “corporate viewpoint”. Walls and structures are coming down or are being made visible. Old lines of communications (Such as “Command and Control”) have been jettisoned and the concept of “New Ideas” is no longer just defined as internal. “Teamwork” is now more important than ever, but only when it has “Collaboration” at its foundation. “Teamwork” can be interpreted as a group of similarly trained or deployed people working for a single mission (Basketball Players: A linear orientation). “Collaboration” is geared toward having disparate talents working for a single outcome, through different purposes (ex: the entire organization including the players: Non-linear input).

The core issue of this is that we are still celebrating and making plans around the old model of great workplaces while the revolution representing what makes a Great Workplace / Great Place to Work has been quietly stealing our best people, their minds and talents, and vendors, just like John Galt in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

The purpose of this treatise is simple: WHILE IT IS HAPPENING, show what core changes there are in Great Workplaces so that start-ups, small and mid-size companies can by example, grow in a healthy and sustainable fashion and return to our economy great dividends in revenue, value, innovations and sustainability. The big companies will get bailouts (ever hear of a $10 million ASV company getting a federal bailout in 2009?) and due to having created market niches for certain products (Jet Engines, Gasoline, Money/Branded Banks, Hospitals) will continue to survive. They will provide workplaces for people who want “big”, who want to work for “Mom”. There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH A BIG Great Workplace. Our work will show what is happening in the companies that employ 95% of our workers and create new jobs and businesses that aren’t in the news or on TV: The Great Workplace 2.0.

This document is a fluid expose’ on the topic, as the concept of employment and what makes The Great Workplace has now taken on the characteristic of morphing at “The Speed Of Thought”.

The 9 Fundamental Attributes of The Great Workplace 2.0:

Before we dive into each attribute, it needs to be noted that to be a Great Workplace/ Place to Work, an organization does NOT have to have each characteristic at equal levels. Based upon the nature of the organization, the products or services it offers, and the reason for the organization’s existence, the levels of the 8 can be different from one to another. Each attribute has deep explanatory sections to it, to further emphasize the Why and How. In the end, it may seem that there are at least 50 components to The Great Workplace 2.0, but our focus will be on the few that make the majority of the difference.

We have looked at the fundamental components of The Great Workplace as “Acquirable and Repeatable”: Ones that can be built into a new company or that can be achieved by an existing company.

1. The organization has a meaningful “Corporate Statement Of Purpose” that is the foundation for corporate culture and therefore provides meaning to employment and work opportunities. This statement is driven by the affects the organization has on their customers and the role each “Participant” can play in that directive.

2. A Great Workplace is committed to fostering a collaborative, productive, engaging and rewarding culture that encompasses customers, prospective employees, employees, vendors, “Participants” (Stake/ Shareholders) and the community. The organization practices collaboration to the extent that “Internal and External” no longer have a distinction, and it recognizes that “Community” has no true boundaries.

3. The organization, through its culture and flexibility, provides for an intelligent work-life balance for all participants. This attribute can be defined individually and as a group but is the product of the organization’s purpose.

4. The organization provides for enterprise sustainability as part of their core culture and is committed to educating the employee body, vendors, participants, customers and the community about their practices. “Sustainability” is defined in flexible terms for Ecology, Environment, Volunteerism, and Civic Engagement/ Charitable Offerings with the Community, Reputation, and Internships from the Community and Product Impact to future generations.

5. The organization has a financial focus on being “Intelligently Profitable”. This qualitative focus is founded in sustainability, the Values within their purpose and a view of “Intelligent Self Interest” for the organization and all participants. “Intelligent Self Interest” is defined as Self Interest that stands the test of “how will my plan affect others?” It defines who the customer REALLY is.

6. The organization provides a sensible and tuned foundation of health and welfare benefits so that all employees can focus on their job purpose.

7. The Great Workplace has an operating plan to integrate Jobs, Careers, Participants and the Community in their (Organizational and Individual) pursuit of accomplishing their purpose. Intent or statements are not enough. This operating plan embraces the strategy and tactics of “Purposeful Convergence of Knowledge” where technology is employed, not for the sake of technology (which becomes a distraction) but for the customer, and where obstacles to the purpose can be eliminated or minimized.

8. Top Management shows and invokes visible, tangible leadership that directly supports the organization’s Statement of Purpose. This leadership preserves the integrity of the organization’s purpose, and is both duplicatable and repeatable…at any level.

9. The organization emphasizes buying locally and promotes our (its) region as a great place to live and work.

The ability of an organization to be “Great” should never rely solely upon being “Big” (Cashflow) or Rich. “Great” is a value, and VALUES can never be bought.

Jim Collins in “Built To Last” defines it this way: “It is dedicated to the idea that true greatness comes in direct proportion to the passionate pursuit of a purpose beyond money”.

The above definitions are only a part of an introduction to the entire research results for what makes The Great Workplace of today and tomorrow. The Great Workplace 2.0 is NOT static. It is updated and changed on a regular basis as we discover other fundamentals that are forming the benchmarks of success. We invite your comments and insights, directly to the author.

The Great Workplace 2.0 ™ is an ongoing research project sponsored by Champion Personnel System, Inc, A Job Near Home.com and Work Is Good, Inc. All content © 2009 A Job Near Home™, The Great Workplace™, Work Is Good™.

For more information: Robert Schepens; 216.823.5900. ras@ajobnearhome.com, ras@championjobs.com

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