One Successful Company’s Advice on How to Win Over Employees

I recently had a conversation with a colleague at Education Data Systems, Inc. (EDSI) about talent management.  Now, this topic is quite timely because almost all respondents to my 2018 Confidence and Clarity Survey stated that retention of talent and finding well-qualified workers will be one of their greatest challenges in 2018.
When it comes to this topic, EDSI is a great resource.  They are in the business of Workforce Development, Talent Management, Employment & Training Programs, and HR Consulting.  In 2016 and 2017, it was the only Michigan company to win all of the following awards: National Best and Brightest® Companies to Work for, Crain’s Cool Places to Work, Detroit Free Press Top Workplaces, Metropolitan Detroit’s 101 Best & Brightest Companies and the Sloan When Work Works Award.  As a result, it is often looked at by other companies looking to get better, smarter and faster at how they attract, train and retain top talent.
During my conversation, they shared a story that speaks volumes about how you should think about your talent management and may even prompt you to think about one or two, relatively low-cost ideas you can do to endear yourself to your employees, and bank some goodwill throughout the organization.
Now, in the words of EDSI:
We started working with a company recently, and before we even walked through the doors several things jumped out to us.  As we drove through the (unpaved) employee parking lot, we had to zig-zag through the slush and mud to avoid potholes that were the size of small craters.  As we approached the office, we drove past several waterlogged employees, who had just braved the elements.   As we reached the entrance of the building, we noticed a row of “reserved” parking spots, where the cars sat on paved, parking pads. It is also worth mentioning that most of these cars were significantly nicer than the rest of the cars in the lot.  As we entered the building, we were offered some coffee, and taken to a break room (reserved for the “office staff”), with all the amenities.  A few minutes later, we toured the facility and noticed that the “plant workers” did not have a dedicated break room.  To compound this issue, the employees had 30 minutes for lunch and the closest fast food restaurant was over ten minutes away.
Over the next few days, we spent a significant amount of time with their employees, and almost every employee mentioned the “us vs. them” divide between the “office staff” and the “plant workers.” Furthermore, almost every employee mentioned the parking lot, and the fact that employees were blowing out tires on an almost daily basis.  For some of these employees, this meant not being able to make it to work on time, which meant running the risk of being fired.  For others, this meant having to make some tough decisions – do I pay my rent and bills on time, or get a new tire?
For this company it was the parking lot, and the breakrooms, for another company is was inadequate lighting, for yet another company it was oscillating fans, for another it was new chairs.  Long story long, sometimes some relatively inexpensive fixes can make a world of difference.
If you look at EDSI, our Chief Servant Leader, parks in the very last spot in the parking lot, rain, snow or shine.  We recently tore down the walls at our home office, to create a more collaborative work environment, and he was the first one to give up his desk. 
The morale of the story, whether you realize it or not, these are the things that people pay attention to.  They are also the things that endear you to your team, or drive a wedge between you and your team.
Your business may not have the same problems as the one in this example, but there can be no denying that there is always room for improvement.  We encourage you to think about one or two items you can change each month that makes your company more worker-friendly.  As I always try to pass along good ideas, let me know what you have done to attract and retain your talent [email protected] or 248-455-6500.

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