Having fun should be taken very seriously if you want a sustainable business. Trust me on that.

Having fun should be taken very seriously if you want a sustainable business. Trust me on that.
by Robin Eichert of PeopleSense Consulting LLC

Picture in your mind the workplace culture that demands the best from their employees. These employers task their staff to bring highly innovative products to market on a competitive time schedule, to provide exceptional quality service, and to ensure ample and consistent financial security.wirebelt_bwtb20140001_640x299_0.jpg

One might immediately think these highly-driven organizations require their employees to have their nose to the grindstone all day, every day, slaves to their work in order to achieve these high standards. You’d be wrong.

New Hampshire companies, several of them NHBSR members, are creating new and exciting paradigms for the workplace. These are workplaces where having fun rules. Seriously. These companies understand an employee is more than just the engineer or line worker that clocks in from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday. These exceptional employers see the whole person, one who has a family, friends, outside interests, and an array of needs, that when nurtured, provide a wealth of goodness in return.

Each year, NHBSR partners with Business NH Magazine to identify “The Best Companies to Work For.” It’s an enormous effort to whittle through the impressive programs offered by dozens of organizations to determine those that are the cream of the crop. These aren’t just the big companies, either. Significant ideas are implemented successfully at small companies, with as few as 10 employees.

There are plenty of your tried-and-true offerings, such as gift cards and pizza parties, even a Nacho Bar, and champagne toasts for achieving established milestones.  But lots of meaningful (and of course, fun) programs are also provided, such as paid time to volunteer at a favorite non-profit organization of the employees’ choice, generous tuition reimbursement , and free memberships to health clubs, even onsite gym facilities and access to yoga classes and massage therapists (hey, sign me up!).

It doesn’t stop there, though. I find the truly amazing examples are of policies that speak volumes of the mutual and deep trust that exists between the leadership and employees, at all levels. This kind of trust and autonomy can leave your run-of-the-mill executive feeling quite vulnerable and uneasy.

Imagine an organization that purposely has no policy on how much vacation time is allowed. The leaders at this organization aren’t thinking in terms of who will abuse it, instead they focus on the expectation of each employee to make appropriate decisions on how to balance their work schedule.

Picture the leadership that encourages all junior managers to spend up to $10,000 on customer-related projects or internal research -- without any approval. It’s clear than empowerment and trust are at the forefront of this culture.

This is more than having fun (though there is always a boatload evident in these organizations). The best companies demonstrate trust.

hypertherm_bestco20130001_0_0.jpgExecutives in CSR-minded companies are constantly seeking best practices for engaging employees. Look no further: there are numerous, impressive examples that could easily be happening in your own neighborhood. Nothing in New Hampshire is that far away, and we have the enviable opportunity to share and learn from each other to achieve our shared goals of doing well by doing good. 

Want to be a part of the movement? There are two immediate ways to get involved. First, leave a comment here about something you are doing at your organization – or even something you’ve considered but have questions about. Let’s learn together and help each other to be our best.

And secondly, come to a fun event on Valentine’s Day!  Join all the award-winners, including NHBSR members, Wire Belt Company of America, W.S. Badger Company, and Hypertherm Inc. for Breakfast with the Best. They will be sharing their stories of what they love at their companies, and you can enrich the conversation with your ideas and questions.

What’s not to love about being inspired by our fellow business leaders? Held at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester at 7:30 a.m., you can register here

These companies demand the best from their employees. But first, they offer trust. I’d love to see you on Valentine’s Day so we can all learn from the best.