How the Best Companies are weathering the storm

How the Best Companies are weathering the storm

Last week we announced 2011 Best Small & Medium Workplaces list and I wanted to share some interesting observations about this year’s list makers.

It seems that despite the economic climate, the 2011 Best are weathering the storm quite well: companies in the small category saw an average of 14% job growth while those in the medium category had an average of 12% job growth. What's more, five companies on the 50 Best list are recruitment services/firms: Snagajob (#1 Small), DDI (#5 Medium), Talent Plus (#6 Small), Akraya (#14 Small), and Professional Placement Resources (#18 Small).

In addition to these trend-bucking statistical tidbits, we’ve also noticed some behavioral tendencies among the list makers. More and more, we’re seeing a deeper sense of employee involvement and ownership. Tactically, companies are relying on employees to drive new business initiatives, shape culture and contribute to the general direction of the company.

Senior Leadership 2.0 – humble and approachable
We’re seeing Senior Management leading with humility. CEOs are increasingly approachable and humble, willing to admit that they don’t necessarily know best.  A great example of an approachable CEO can be found at the helm of #6 on the Medium List, 4imprint. All 425 employees are given President Kevin Lyons-Tarr's home phone number so that they can call him for any reason. World-class CEOs provide the means for their employees to make the call on how they can better the organization. They appreciate that their employees are best poised to solve problems because they are on the front lines – closest to the clients, the processes, etc.

Smart recruitment and the value of culture
Companies are recruiting smarter. More and more, companies are recruiting through employee referrals. Case in point, Professional Placement Resources, PPR, #18 on the Small list recorded an amazing 100% referral rate. Companies are also recruiting with intention and strategy that reinforces the notion that the culture belongs to each and every employee. Shared value of Culture: Senior leaders and the HR department are sharing the job of shaping the company's cuture with employees. After all, employees with a vested interest in the culture will recruit people who will maintain and live out the values of that culture.

So what can we learn from these Best Companies?  In a nutshell, I think it's important to note that these companies face the challenges that all companies face yet these guys do so in a positive manner – they are weathering the storm together, with a deep sense of camaraderie and trust.