Chamber Blog

Nov 28, 2016 — by: Chrystal Vaughan

You may or may not have heard that tickets are on sale to the 96th Annual Chamber Awards Gala. If you haven't, then you have probably been living under a rock!

What you may not know is that we are currently accepting nominations for local businesses, organizations, or individuals that fit the criteria for our awards categories. Today, let's discuss this one:

Best Place to Work: Presented to an organization that, through its innovation and dedication, provides employees with an outstanding positive, healthy and productive workplace. Two categories: business with 15 or less employees and business with 16 or more employees.

Honestly, what does that REALLY mean? I know some places let you wear your pajamas, but are they really doing you a favor? What does constitute a "Best Place to Work"? Let's break it down.

Are you allowed to take a break once in a while? Does your boss have an "open door" policy? Does your company give you paid sick leave and then not make you feel bad for using it? Are you allowed to post Star Wars memes to the organization's social media page and they pay you for it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be working for a nomination-worthy place.

According to the Harvard Business Review, truly great places to work find ways to engage their employees. Great employers allow their employees to climb the Maslow pyramid; that is, their hierarchy of needs have been met. Once a person has their needs met, the sky’s the limit on how much of themselves they can give to their work, their families, and even to themselves. Yes, that's a real thing.

So Maslow has five basic tiers…survival (physical needs); security (physical/mental/emotional); belonging (emotional/mental); esteem (mental/emotional); and self-actualization (spiritual). I'm sure someone else with a psychology degree might be able to explain them better, but I'm an English major. Instead, here’s how they break down for employee engagement:


Thanks for the graphic,!


What can companies do to help make this happen? Listen up, all you employers; I'm about to lay down some truth up in here:

  • One of the best ways is to provide a living wage. Don’t make your employees live in poverty. That meets none of the categories on the Maslow pyramid.
  • What about giving the employees some stake in the success of your company? If you do well, they should do well. That’s a security tier, yes?
  • Safe, comfortable, happy work environments go a long way in employee engagement. We’ve all heard stories about how Google does it. I wonder if I can lobby for a nap pod in my office?
  • FOOD! Feed them, and they will follow you forever. Wait, that’s dogs. EMPLOYEES, however, need to eat too. Have vending machines? Make them cheap AND healthy, and you’ll get more out of your employees. Or, at the very least, provide a lunch period where they can get some nourishment. I don’t know about you, but I’m not myself when I’m hungry…
  • NAPS! Harvard Business Review reports that afternoon naps fuel higher productivity in the several hours that follow said nap. If it's good enough for Harvard, it's good enough for me. SLEEP POD HERE I COME!
  • This is less exciting to me, but pretty important: exercise. Not all employers can afford to give their employees a gym membership, or even have exercise equipment on site. BUT you can give your employees a couple of breaks during the day and even encourage or join them in a walk.
  • What does success look like to your employees? Do they know what you expect? If so, do you micromanage them to death? Inquiring minds…
  • Two-way performance reviews allow employees to feel as though they have a say in what they are doing that feels good to them, and allows them to give feedback in return for yours. Unless you’re like Al Capone or something, in which case maybe you need an anonymous suggestion box. Cause no one wants to criticize an Al Capone clone.
  • Give employees the TIME they need to perform the work you are asking of them. Seriously. I’ve worked at jobs where I had fifteen different conflicting tasks and the boss said they were all equally important. Great. I’ll just rip myself into pieces and hope each piece can get something finished.
  • Water them like flowers. With knowledge. Provide opportunities for them to GROW and learn!
  • Don’t focus so much on your bottom line; remember, without your employees, you have no one to help you run your business.

SO: Do you work for a place that meets your hierarchy of needs? If you do, NOMINATE THEM! There's a shortage of great employers these days; it would be a shame not to recognize them.

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