Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
Have you ever noticed that in every industry and in every town there are one or two companies that people want to work for?
|Heather McCune, Editor in Chief
Have you ever noticed that in every industry and in every town there are one or two companies that people want to work for? In the software business, for the longest time that company was Microsoft. In the computer industry, it was Apple and Intel. In the manufacturing business, General Electric attracted the best and brightest. For the news junkie and journalism graduate, the prize was The Washington Post or The New York Times.
What is it about these organizations that make them Meccas for job seekers? Is it that they are growing companies that offer plenty of opportunities for professional development and growth in responsibility and income? Is it the prestige — the wow factor when you proudly tell family and friends that you work for one of America’s most admired companies? Is it the charge that comes from knowing you’re part of a company that creates products that positively affect the lives of its customers?
As we put together the list of the 101 Best Companies to Work For in the Residential Construction Industry, employees told us that being the employer of choice means an organization delivers on all those things — growth opportunities, pride and a sense of purpose in the work, and more. What separates those companies that made the list from those that were nominated but didn’t make it was consistency. According to those who do the work, the 101 Best Companies score well in all 11 areas: corporate culture, workplace trust/management credibility, respect, fairness, pride, camaraderie, communication, job satisfaction, training/professional development, compensation (benefits/rewards/recognition) and customer satisfaction.
What is interesting is that in every company employees know where the weak link is. Scores in nine of the 11 categories are consistently high, and in the other two every respondent marks the employer as failing. Among the nominated companies not on the list, communication and job satisfaction are the category killers that kept them off. More often than not, job-satisfaction scores were low because employees didn’t feel they had the necessary information at the right time to do their jobs effectively.
As we plowed through the thousands of surveys received to compile the 101 list, the words of people management maven Martin Freedland echoed through my head. In advising Fidelity Homes owners Todd Menke and David Hunihan to improve their recruiting and hiring processes, he offered this illustration:
Builders in his seminars list on paper their salespeople from best to worst, and then do the same with construction superintendents and managers. Those lists are divided into quartiles. When we do this nationally, says Freedland, we usually find that the top quartile produces three times as much as the bottom. In sales, the top quartile does $9 million to $10 million in revenue, the bottom $3 million to $4 million — but they’re not getting fired. With construction supers, the difference in production is just as dramatic, but their earnings are much closer, perhaps only $15,000 separating the best from the worst. Yet the best deliver three times as many houses — on time, on budget, with high customer satisfaction.
“Our concept is that through superior hiring practices and training we keep raising the bar until our worst guys would be in the competitors’ top quartile,” Freedland says.
What this suggests to me is that working for an employer of choice — one of the 101 Best Companies to Work For in the Residential Construction Industry — carries with it the obligation to be an employee of choice. It means demonstrating daily curiosity — asking the questions to understand the why of a job and not just the how, with the ultimate goal being asking and answering the “what if” question. It means leading people, not managing them. It means creating a best place to work every day through the example we set.