I Like Work.

January 21st, 2007

Ten years, one thousand companies and millions of readers later, FORTUNE’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” still has us running to the newsstands. Even though this year’s winner should come as no big surprise to loyal readers (if you haven’t read it yet, I’ll give you a hint – the company starts with “G” and ends with “oogle.”)

Now, stock prices and salaries certainly don’t hurt employees’ opinions of their employers. These companies do well, and their employees are paid well. But take a look at the profiles of the companies FORTUNE chose to highlight – not a single one focuses on salary.

Instead, we’re treated to stories about organizations where iPods are issued to employees to download training (or their favorite music!), financial aid is available to families trying to adopt and employees tattoo themselves with company logos. These companies will do whatever it takes to make their corporate culture as remarkable as their balance sheets.


The point is, while each of these companies has a strong business case at the core, it’s the cool cultural stories reporters latched onto.

Time and again, clients come to us with compelling facts about revenue increases, personnel growth and product breakthroughs, but to get media interested, we challenge ourselves to look deeper into their stories. Reporters might be impressed by the numbers, but margins comprise only a fraction of the story media wants to tell.

There’s a book called the Experience Economy that posed the theory that every business is in the business of “orchestrating memorable events” for consumers — not just selling products or services. Think of your employees as your consumers. What makes their everyday work experience memorable? Is it the cozy room you’ve built so they can comfortably brainstorm? Is it the “go team” voicemail they get from you every morning? Or is your workplace a cubicle farm bogged down by water cooler gossip and TPS reports?

In Mavericks at Work, which I’ve mentioned here before, the authors ask, “If your company were no longer in business, would your employees miss you?” If the answer is “no,” you may want to rethink the employee experience you’ve created.

Take a moment to think about your workplace experience from your employees’ viewpoint. And if it isn’t remarkable, then take steps to change it. It doesn’t have to be a multi-million dollar renovation of your office space. Start small – like having bagels and coffee waiting for everyone on Monday morning. Or create an Annual Meeting that entertains as well as informs.

After all, it’s your culture, your values and your employees that fuel your most interesting stories ­— not just making a lot of money.

Doing that doesn’t hurt, either.

Posted Under: Agency Insider, Storytelling
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