Thursday, October 22, 2015

Seeking Recognition as a Great Place to Work

Arlene Pietranton, Lisa Cole and I with Ron Friedman
at Washingtonian's Great Place to Work Event 10/22/15
Building your brand as an employer of choice goes a long way toward attracting talent. Seeking external recognition through an award program is an effective strategy for building your brand. Awards serve as external validation to potential candidates and some come with loads of free publicity. We don't count the resumes we receive, but companies that do report a 30% spike in the number of applicants they receive after being named to one of Fortune Magazine's lists. 

Once we attract these talented individuals, they stay. Our average tenure is 9.3 years at ASHA and our turnover runs half of the average in the DC metro area. Being deemed a great place to work enhances the pride we all feel in working at ASHA and that carries over to some degree to how our members feel about their professional organization. It enhances our sense of community.

The Lists
ASHA's sophisticated planning tool for
managing the application process.
I'm often asked what award programs are out there, so I put together this list. You can look at the applications and get a sense of what matters in each and then choose to complete the ones that align with your organization's values. The applications can be time consuming, so you want to carefully select the ones with the biggest ROI for your organization. At the Leadership Arlington event mentioned below, Michele Fantt Harris stressed that you should wait to apply until you get a strong message from your employees that you're ready. Most of these applications involve an employee survey.

The benefits of making a list that gets a lot of publicity greatly outweigh the ones that don't. In the DC area, it's hard to beat Washingtonian Magazine and the Washington Post awards for the publicity. Of course, this also makes them more competitive. At ASHA, we focus our energy on the first four listed. I'm proud to say we went four for four in 2015!
  1. Washingtonian Magazine's Great Places to Work (bi-annually)
  2. Washington Post Top Workplaces
  3. Alliance for Workplace Excellence (for employers in Maryland)
  4. Healthiest Employers
  5. Commuter Connections 
  6. Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)
  7. Working Mother
  8. Northern Virginia CARE (Companies as Responsive Employers)
  9. Best Places to Work in Virginia
  10. Fortune Best 100 Companies to Work For
  11. 50 Best Small and Medium Workplaces List
Please leave me a note in the comment section below if you think of an award I overlooked.

I recommend reading The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman. The book compiles the latest research from the fields of motivation, creativity, behavioral economics, neuroscience, and management to reveal what really makes us successful at work. I'd read many of the studies mentioned in the book and delighted in seeing them all pulled together to tell a real story about the science behind creating a great place to work. 

If you're looking for help getting started, Leadership Center for Excellence has gathered a panel of Washington Post "Top Places to Work" winners for an upcoming Leadership Workshop entitled, "How to Become a Top Employer." It's planned for  Tuesday, October 27, 2015 (flier below.) This workshop seeks to answer the question, "How does an organization stay on top with tough competition?" I'll be among the six Washington Post "Top Places to Work" winners that will share their experience with workshop attendees. I'd love to see you there if you're interested.

You'll also find good resources at

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