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Trust, pride and camaraderie: Hallmarks of a great place to work

Experts give managers tips on improving their work environments and relations with their staff

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
Posted April 26, 2000

It takes more than good benefits, a big salary and a nice office to make a great place to work. There's a science to creating an exemplary place of employment, say the folks at the Great Place to Work Institute, an organization dedicated to researching this issue.

And according to Robert Levering, who founded the institute, the science is pretty simple -- employees must trust those they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with.

Sounds logical, but creating trust, pride and camaraderie can be challenging, said institute representatives who came to campus April 14 to lead a workshop for managers and supervisors.

"There are three requirements for creating a great place to work," said John Bouffard, who led the training with Molly Crotty. "Clear vision and commitment to improving the work place; leadership at all levels must continually embody and foster trust; and policies and practices must express and encourage trust, pride and camaraderie."

Improving relationships between managers and staff not only makes the workplace more pleasant, but it also increases productivity and profitability by enabling an organization to attract the best employees, foster innovation, produce high-quality products, improve adaptation to change and lower turnover, said Bouffard.

"In order to build trust," said Bouffard, "managers must be credible, fair and respect their staff. This includes showing appreciation for employees' efforts and contributions; being reliable, delivering on promises; and ensuring all staff have opportunities for rewards and recognition."

In addition to building trust, those in leadership positions must encourage pride and camaraderie among employees. Helping staff feel that their work makes a difference is one way, he said. Creating a cooperative work environment is another.

The presenters showed videos on the work environment at Federal Express and L.L. Bean, which were described as examples of great places to work.

The philosophy expressed by the chairman of Federal Express: treat employees as you would your best customer; put staff considerations on equal footing with service and products.

A special committee of employees recognizes the efforts of hardworking staff at L.L. Bean. Dressed in tie-dye shirts and funny hats, the group parades around the company's headquarters surprising peer-selected awardees with confetti showers, special hand-made medallions and a champagne toast.

Workshop participant Ken Uhl, with Information Systems & Technology, said his department instituted a similar program, called "Cheers for Peers." Unlike Distinguished Service Awards, a form of monetary compensation bestowed by top-level administrators, peer recognition is more sincere and meaningful, he said.

The workshop is part of an ongoing effort by the Chancellor, the Center for Organizational Effectiveness and Human Resources to build community and improve staff recruitment and retention.

"I got a lot out of the workshop," said participant Denise Oldham, with the staff affirmative action office. "We need to construct more opportunities for staff at all levels to learn together. That's how the change can begin and how it can continue."

"We hope this workshop will help guide us in creating the type of atmosphere that is representative of Berkeley," said Sandy Haire, assistant vice chancellor, human resources. "Just as we represent a hallmark of excellence in the academic community, our mark of excellence as an employer can be sustained only if we devote time and attention to creating an environment where staff are motivated to do an outstanding job."

"There is a lot the institute can help us with," said Assistant Chancellor John Cummins. "We want to re-instill in people a sense of why working here has value and is different from the private sector."

For information on the Great Place to Work Institute and its model, or campus efforts to improve organizational effectiveness, contact COrE at 642-0707.



April 26 - May 3, 2000 (Volume 28, Number 30)
Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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