A recent article in Harvard Business Review entitled "How 4 Retailers Became 'Best Places to Work'” takes a look at the philosophies and practices at four leading retailers that consistently get high marks as employers.
While each company takes a somewhat different approach, there are a few common themes:
Maintain high expectations - All four retailers demand a lot from employees, but those demands are evident throughout the enterprise - executives are held to them as much (if not more) than front-line employees.
Empower employees - Employees that are empowered to make decisions and take action enable those employees to meet demanding goals.
Encourage teamwork and team success - A demanding work environment not properly managed could lead to competition between individuals that ends up being detrimental to the company as a whole. By encouraging team spirit, individuals' competitive energies are channelled in productive ways.
Pay people well - Ever wonder why shopping at Costco feels a lot different than shopping at Target? There are lots of reasons, of course, but one important difference is that Costco employees are paid well. In the words of Costco's CEO: "good pay means good things for the business."
Ping-pong tables and other quirky perks are great but, at the end of the day, feeling empowered and fairly compensated are much more valuable.