Becoming a “Best Place to Work”

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Editor’s Note:  In preparation of thinking about the end of the year and possible resolutions for the next, we’re posting the below entry a little early to give our readers a jump-start on the new year.  Have a happy holiday!

What makes a great workplace? In a multiyear study aimed at defining just that, the Gallup Organization identified 12 dimensions that consistently add up to high employee retention, customer satisfaction, productivity, and profitability. In 2012, my blog posts will focus on how financial advisors can put these lessons to use in their firms. Each month, we’ll highlight one of the 12 dimensions, with an emphasis on applying it in a small business environment.

Before we get started, it’s important to note a key finding of the Gallup study: “There are no great companies. There are only great workgroups.” While you might assume the 12 dimensions pertain only to big corporations, they lend themselves just as readily to the tight workgroups found in smaller organizations.

Dimension #1: “I know what is expected of me at work.”

A clear, specific job description that the employee understands lays the foundation for strong performance and job satisfaction. While a well-defined job description is critical when an employee first joins your office, remember that job expectations change frequently. A job description that’s current today will likely be partially out of date in a year and completely obsolete in three years thanks to technology advances, new compliance regulations, and general industry shifts. That’s why it’s important to update employee job descriptions annually.

Hint: As a reminder to yourself, include a “last reviewed” date at the top of every job description.

Gallup points out that setting clear expectations is not the same as “over-operationalizing” a job. The key is to ensure that your employees have a say in how they do their jobs. Just like job descriptions, your firm’s documented processes and procedures need to be updated every 12 months. Involving employees in revising procedures they use regularly has a dual value: it keeps the firm’s processes current while reinforcing employees’ understanding of their roles and giving them an opportunity to provide feedback.

Dimension #1 in practice                                                    

So, how can a small firm ensure that employees know what is expected of them? In a nutshell:

  • Keep job descriptions current.
  • Involve employees in updating the processes and procedures they use.

Small businesses can certainly do that!

Joni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.



Read Joni’s Feb. 10, 2012 blog “More on Becoming a Best Place to Work.”

One thought on “Becoming a “Best Place to Work”

  1. Pingback: More on Becoming a “Best Place to Work” « FPA Practice Management Center Blog

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