Leadership / Management | Organizational Development

Want to attract good people? Be good to your people.


Being a great place to work isn't rocket science. All it takes is an unwavering commitment to your employees' peace of mind.

That's the word from Crystal Williams, Robert Waller Jr., and Phillip Jones.

They lead organizations that have been named among the best associations to work -- Williams is executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Waller is president and COO of Association Headquarters, and Jones is president and CEO of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

What's their secret? As they told attendees at the American Society of Association Executives' 2012 Annual Meeting, it's all about the little things. Here are just a few of the cool things these folks do for their employees:

  • Match the time that employees volunteer to their communities with an equal amount of paid time off.
  • Grant six-week sabbaticals to those who have been on staff for 10 years or more.
  • Offer flexible schedules.
  • Give them free gym memberships.
  • Provide mass transit subsidies and stipends to offset the rising cost of gasoline.

The strategy here is simple, said Waller: "We don't want to lose good people."

Do you have to do those things? Absolutely not. They're just examples of how great places to work operate -- with their employees' best interests at heart. Being a great place work doesn't mean you have to come up with a trendy new benefit. It simply means treating your people well, and doing that can be pretty simple:

  • Pay them well and give them great benefits.
  • Engage them in everything -- in running your business, in giving back to the community, in having fun.
  • Make your office a safe place to take measured risks -- and to learn from failure.
  • Hire for culture first. Make sure every team member is a good cultural fit for your company. Why? Even the most talented jerk will be toxic to your company. "We often spend more time with our co-workers than our own families," Williams said. "They have to be people that we like."

I'd argue that we should all be doing these things as a matter of course, but the fact that we're talking about it means that we're not.

You want good people? Here's the easy solution: Be good to your people.

What kinds of cool benefits do you offer to keep your staff coming back for more?


Bill Sheridan