SI Review: April 2011

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More than a Plaque

Landing on a Best Places to Work list boosts the bottom line

Forget the number seven; it’s the number nine that has been lucky so far for LiquidAgents Healthcare. That’s how many times the Plano, Texas-based staffing firm has won a Best Places to Work award. The firm landed on Staffing Industry Analysts’ “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” list this year and the previous year. In addition, it appeared seven other times on Best Places to Work lists produced by the Dallas Business Journal and other organizations.

The fact LiquidAgents earned a Best Places to Work award nine times in its seven-year history is music to CEO Sheldon Arora’s ears. His company has received other recognitions — fastest-growing company, for example — but Arora considers a Best Places to Work award the most important and holds it near and dear to his heart. “It’s the most important award anybody in the staffing industry can get,” he explains. Indeed, being on a Best Places to Work list has many advantages for a company.

Top Talent

“There’s something about employees saying they like working here,” Arora says. “It adds a huge amount of credibility.”

For example, SIA’s “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” list is based on what employees say about their company, and not what the executives say.

As such, being named Best Place to Work makes it easier for a company to attract and retain top talent. Ninety-two percent of companies that show up on a Best Places to Work list get seven times more qualified resumes per job posting

than companies that don’t, according to a study done by Quantum Workplace from 2004-2006 of companies listed as a Best Place to Work. Meanwhile, 57 percent reported reduced employee turnover, according to the study. SIA partnered with Quantum Workplace on this year’s contest.

Being branded as a Best Place to Work is its own attraction, says Quantum President Greg Harris. “It attracts people who are career-minded. The award creates pride and pride creates honor.”

Doug Ross, president of Synergis, one of SIA’s “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” this year, says such awards help people take a look at his company as a preferred employer. “People do want to work for great companies,” he says. “Most people don’t just want a job.”

Adds LiquidAgents’ Arora: “Our recognition attracts a talented staff. Plus, people who already work here don’t want to leave. Our employees feel respected, proud and happy.”

Productivity

And those feelings of pride in a company lead to higher productivity and gross margins. “Our employees are more productive because they enjoy coming to work,” says Dan Rodriguez, CEO of Veredus, another of SIA’s “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” winners. “It gives our employees a sense of pride. They feel like they’re working for a good company and that makes them more productive.”

Adds LiquidAgents Arora: “The more productive we can make them, the more efficient they are. That creates the margins we need. Gross margin goes up when you are named a Best Place to Work. When you are efficient as a company, the productivity you get is unbelievable.”

Companies that are honored with a Best Places to Work distinction also tend to have better attendance, lower medical costs resulting from fewer stress-related illnesses and fewer on-the job accidents, higher levels of autonomy, innovation and risk taking, and higher customer satisfaction. They also are better prepared to weather economic downturns, according to the Great Place to Work Institute.

Happy Clients

Winning such an award also can make it easier to keep your existing clients and land new ones. “It actually makes it a lot easier to have a conversation or business with a client,” Arora says. “They would rather use a company that has been named a Best Place to Work than one that has not. They know our employees are happier and do good work. If you love your job and are excited about it, clients are the beneficiary of that. We all want to be associated with great people, great companies.”

When Synergis landed a spot on the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Best Places to Work list last year, “It was gratifying to have customers talk to us, congratulate us and talk about how we have the same values they do as an organization,” Ross says. And with prospective clients, “They know that it is the difference between one company or the other,” he says.

A Marketing Boost

Landing a spot on a Best Places to Work list also is a great marketing opportunity. Most companies that receive the award send a press release to local newspapers and business journals. They also mention the award on their Web sites, social media sites, blogs, company literature, newsletters and voicemail messages. Additionally, staff note the award on their e-mail signatures. Hire Dynamics even puts its Best Place to Work status on golf T-shirts. “Everything we do, we plaster it on there,” says CEO Dan Campbell.

If your company is small, receiving a Best Places to Work award can help get its name out there. “We invest a lot of time and effort into hiring and training recent college graduates,” says Bob Siemering, co-founder and chairman of John Galt Staffing, which appears on SIA’s list. “Often these prospective employees’ exposure to the business world is limited and the only companies they recognize are major Fortune 500 companies or household brands. Having a third party, like SIA, validate us as a ‘Best Places to Work’ helps us overcome being a smaller company with an unrecognized name and makes prospective hires more willing to consider the opportunities we offer.”

More Trust

Another benefit of winning a Best Places to Work award is that people tend to trust you more. If you are a company that wins an award, you get the benefit of the doubt, LiquidAgents’ Arora says. “If you don’t know the company, but know employees are happy there, you give the company the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t take us so long to earn the trust from somebody because they actually are already giving us that benefit.”

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, it’s the bottom line that matters. And all of these benefits — the talent, the clients, the marketing and trust — lead to this: Receiving a Best Places to Work award boosts the bottom line. According to Quantum Workplace’s study, 87 percent of companies that received such an honor reported an increase in sales; 86 percent reported an increase in market share; and, among publicly traded companies, 90 percent reported higher stock prices.

Keep Working

If your company is named a Best Place to Work, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There is always room for improvement, Hire Dynamics’ Campbell says. “There are still things you can do better.”

And if your company has applied for the honor but didn’t make it to the list, don’t give up, Campbell says. Just keep trying. The first couple of times his company applied for the award in Atlanta, it didn’t win. Then, the third year, it went from not being on the list at all to being No. 1. “It takes time,” Campbell says. “It’s important to make it a priority. You’ve got to constantly reiterate it and communicate it and live all of the concepts that being a Best Place to Work means.”

If your company happens to win a Best Places to Work award, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t apply again in the future, Campbell says. Keep applying for the award year after year, because your company may just win it again, and that will make it stand out even more and add more credibility. “Winning it a second or third time makes it more impressive than just winning it once,” says Campbell, whose company has received such an award seven times, twice from Staffing Industry Analysts.

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