Good companies know how to make work a better place by LawCrossing


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									CAREER CORNER                                                                                                                  1. 800. 973.1177

                                 Good companies know how to make work a better place
                                 [by Michael Kinsman]
                                 If creating great places to work was rocket science, there would be many more inspired workplaces.

But it isn’t rocket science.                         solution,” Owens says. “But we know from             lives while they’re working, it makes them ap-
                                                     surveys how highly our workers value that            preciate the job a little more,” Whiteley says.
It’s much more complicated.                          benefit so we look for other ways to save
                                                     money.”                                              Intuit also allows workers 32 hours of paid
That’s the thing every well-intentioned com-                                                              time off each year to contribute to community
pany learns when it sets out to create an en-        It is the attention to survey results and the        groups or causes they believe in. Whiteley
vironment that motivates workers to perform          later follow-up that help Qualcomm and oth-          says allowing individuals to choose the cause
at their highest levels and to entice others to      ers on the Fortune list stand apart. But no two      enhances the value of the benefit.
work there.                                          corporate strategies are alike.
                                                                                                          “Sometimes you listen to the employees but
There is no magic formula, no equation that          “We’re always looking for ‘differentiators,’‚“       can’t give them everything they want,” White-
logically computes success.                          says Owens. “We look for the things we can do        ley says. “At our corporate office, we have a
                                                     that differentiates our company from others.”        farmers market twice a month. Our employees
“We put a lot of energy around the employee                                                               like it so much they want it here every day, but
experience and how we can improve it,” says          Sometimes, those can be surprising. Qual-            that’s just not possible.”
Ann Owens, a vice president at Qualcomm,             comm, long a proponent of carpooling, has a
which ranked No. 23 this year on Fortune             fleet of vehicles available during the day for       What successful companies seem to know
magazine’s annual list of “00 Best Compa-           carpool workers who need to run errands on           is that being attuned to employee wants and
nies to Work For.”                                   their lunch hours. The borrowed car program          desires is more effective than just throwing
                                                     gets high marks in employee surveys.                 money into the benefit pool. Both Qualcomm
“Even with that effort, you’re never quite sure                                                           and Intuit say that some benefits cost very
what will work,” she said.                           Intuit, which has ,000 employees in San Di-         little but have a big impact; neither company
                                                     ego, was No. 43 on Fortune’s 2006 list. Execs        revealed how much they spend.
San Diego-based Qualcomm has made                    at the tax software company also say they pay
Fortune’s list before, as well as other similar      particular attention to employee surveys.            Even small benefits can make a difference.
                                                     “There’s a lot of two-way communication in           The environmentally sensitive shoe company
The wireless technology developer under-             our company, and we encourage that at all            Timberland offers workers a $3,000 subsidy
stands that it needs creativity to thrive and        levels,” says Sherry Whiteley, Intuit’s senior       if they buy a gas-electric hybrid car; drug
to do that it needs a workplace that inspires        vice president for human resources. “Our             giant Eli Lilly offers a month of paid vacation
employees and makes their lives easier and           employees definitely feel comfortable letting        to pregnant workers before they give birth
better.                                              their voices be heard.”                              and Worthington Industries offers $4 on-site
In its Jan. 23 print issue, Fortune identifies       Mountain View, Calif.,-based Intuit often
Qualcomm as one of 4 companies on its 2006          responds to what employees want at individual        The secret to a great workplace seems to be
list that provide medical insurance cover-           locations. That’s why the San Diego location         respecting employees and valuing their ideas
age free of charge to employees and their            has access to dry cleaning, car washes and oil       on how to make work a better place.
dependents.                                          changes on site during the work day - all at
                                                     discounted rates.                                    There’s no science involved, just an attitude
“From time to time, we look at the cost of                                                                that workers matter.
health care, and you immediately think that          “We’ve found that if you can help remove
having employees share in the cost is a good         some of the chores people have to do in their        © Copley News Service


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