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Is America’s Corporate Culture In the Dark Ages?

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Is America’s Corporate Culture In the Dark Ages?

American work habits can seem downright oppressive when viewed from afar.

Various reports and studies show that Americans experience a more burdensome work week than many of their peers abroad, spending interminable hours at the office, wolfing down lunch at their desks, letting vacation days expire unused, and answering emails after hours and on weekends.

It’s practically the dark ages compared to the rest of the civilized world, where 20 to 30 days of vacation are the norm, the maximum length of the work week often is set by law, paid parental leave is mandated, and some countries have even tried to legislate the “right to disconnect” for workers besieged with after-hour emails and phone calls.

This divide between America’s doggedly industrious approach on the one hand, and the less-relentless global approach on the other, might make it seem that a corporate culture developed for a U.S. company would prove a poor fit beyond our borders.

But that’s not necessarily so, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the upcoming Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampionspodcast.com).

“Yes, there are differences, but there are also commonalities,” Higgs says. “There are people in every corner of the world who want to serve others, do high-quality work, collaborate closely with others, and have fun while doing it. Where they live or where they’re from has nothing to do with those traits; they come from the person’s character, not his or her nationality.”

Higgs knows from experience. He is a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering, and from 2005 through 2014, Mustang opened several international offices.

“Our first was in Woking, England, about 30 miles southwest of London, and it grew to about 450 people,” he says.

Within the next few years, Mustang added offices in Melbourne and Perth, Australia; Mumbai, India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Bogota, Colombia; Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia; and Norway.

“That’s a lot of different cultures around the world,” says Higgs, who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast, which was named a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes.

Higgs says certain principles that make for a winning corporate culture are universal. Why? Because they all relate to people, and people are the crux of any organization’s success. A few of those principles include:

Open communication is critical. Higgs believes in encouraging employees to speak up if they spot a problem or have a suggestion. A corporate culture that promotes such open communication can work well anywhere in the world, he says, because it spurs people who have a different take on things to share their thoughts. If employees feel comfortable speaking out, that can help a U.S. company operating in a foreign land avoid missteps.

Smart hiring practices make a difference. It’s possible to take a new hire and train them to fit into your corporate culture, but it’s even better to hire people who are a good fit to begin with, Higgs says. “Whatever your values are, you want to make sure the new people you hire share those values, and that’s important both at home and abroad,” he says. A bonus is that, once you bring on good people, they often know other good people and can help you recruit.

A spirit of belonging helps promote a passion for work. People want to belong to something, which is why they buy the jersey of a favorite sports team or bumper stickers supporting a favorite cause, Higgs says. “For some reason, though, this sense of belonging rarely happens where people work,” he says. “But you can go a long way toward making people passionate about their work if you organize activities where they can get to know each other as people, not just coworkers.” In many cultures, people already like to spend time with coworkers outside of work, so for them it comes naturally.

“You really can break down the barriers that some think separate people in different parts of the world,” Higgs says. “Respect their local cultures, but invite them to belong to yours as well.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the author of the upcoming book Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (www.culturecodechampionspodcast.com), where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc., which he and two partners started in Houston, Texas, in 1987 to design and build offshore oil platforms. Over the next 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide; since then, it has grown to a $2 billion company with more than 12,000 people. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship.

happy

How To Keep Good Employees Happy And Reap The Business Benefits

While many business owners say that the first rule of a successful company is keeping customers happy, studies show that also keeping employees happy is critical to the whole process.
The better a business owner and upper management treat good employees, the more committed and engaged they will be to perform at a consistently high level and do their part to help make the business successful.
“The big key to business success is the productivity level of your employees and the culture in which they operate,” says Paul Trapp (www.eventprep.com), founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc., a full-service meeting planning and management company, and co-author with Stephen Davis of Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams.
“Employee happiness results directly in success and goes hand-in-hand with company culture. The primary focus of leadership in that culture should be making sure their employees are happy, safe, respected, and making a competitive wage.”
If you get it right with your employees, Trapp and Davis say, they’ll get it right with the customer.
“It’s simple, really,” says Davis, who is EventPrep’s founding owner/president/COO.
“The folks you bring on board are going to spend a significant amount of time with their work family, so why wouldn’t the people running the business want it to be a cool place to work, and why wouldn’t they want it to be the most productive place they could possible make it?”
Trapp and Davis explain the key factors that find the right employees and keep them happy and productive:
Recruiting. “You’ve got to get the right people first, the people with the qualities that make for a passionate, productive worker who contributes to a positive culture,” Davis says. “Recruiting is about connecting with people and connecting them with their passion, their purpose, and enabling them to reach their potential. Recruiting isn’t an event, but a process, and sometimes finding the right person for a particular job can take months or even years. You’re always looking, listening, assessing and asking questions — and really getting to know the person you may hire.”
Establishing a culture. “You want people to want to come to work, and to do that you want people to work in the culture you’re creating,” Trapp says. “Culture is created at the top and cascades downward. What values and ethics do you have as a business owner that can make employees passionately want to be a part of that culture?”
Investing in them. ”Investing in your people raises their performance and strengthens their commitment, but it means far more than giving them raises,” Davis says. “It’s about making them feel like a part of your family, including giving them compassion and understanding when they need it most. Employees in turn embrace that kind of culture and own it. That’s what you want — a self-perpetuating work culture where everyone feels cared for and important.”
Recognizing them. “Keeping people happy and encouraging them to want to stay isn’t magic,” Trapp says. “Just as important as recruiting the right talent, business owners and leaders need to make the culture attractive and sustainable in order to retain the right talent. Retaining is about recognizing and celebrating, showing gratitude and appreciation. Recognizing employees for exceptional work, and giving them a cash bonus or special trip, is a key element toward retaining them.”
“A happy employee who’s engaged and connected, who wants to be there every day, makes the workplace a better place and a stronger business,” Davis says.
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About Paul Trapp
Paul Trapp is a founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc. (www.eventprep.com), a full-service meeting planning and management company that supports 16 franchises across the U.S. He is co-author of the book Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Trapp is a former senior military leader who served as chief of recruiting for the Army National Guard and holds over 30 years of experience in contract management, event planning, and organizing conferences, seminars, and meetings.
About Stephen Davis
Stephen Davis is a founding owner/president/COO of EventPrep, Inc., and co-author of  Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Davis is a multi-state operations director who focuses on conference development, implementation, management, and conference design. He currently serves as a chief warrant officer and CID special agent in the Army Reserves. Davis deployed twice in support of the global war on terrorism. In 2016, Davis and Paul Trapp launched  Federal Conference, Inc., which provided professional event planning and management services to the government and commercial marketplaces. Federal Conference, Inc., twice was a two-time Inc. 500 award recipient and executes over 3,000 events annually around the world.

3 Ways to Finding Happiness at Work

“Which do you think comes first? Success or happiness?” That was the question I posed to a group of student athletes at UC Berkeley. I was there to talk about using humor for mental health, an important topic for all students, particularly those in high-stress situations.

There were a lot of mumbles and then a booming voice from one of the basketball players in the back. “I think it’s success. Once you get something, it makes you happy.”

It’s a common belief, that once we achieve a certain goal or reach a certain status, we’ll be happier. If only we got that raise, or landed that job, or had that car, or this, that, or another thing, we’d be content. But that’s not how happiness works. Happiness is not a result: it’s a way of being.

The truth is happiness precedes success. Those who can find joy in the work they do will be more successful. As Shawn Achor shares in his book, The Happiness Advantage, people who are happy at work see an increase in sales, are more creative, and are 39 percent more likely to live to the age of 94.

So how do you be happier?

Your Happiness Setpoint

In positive psychology, there’s a concept known as hedonic adaptation. The idea is that we all have a base happiness setpoint, where our general demeanor returns, regardless of what happens to us.

When we experience something negative, it will lower our mood for a period of time, but we will eventually return to our base. This is called resilience. The same is true for when we experience something positive. We will be happier for a period of time, but we will eventually return to our base. It’s why success doesn’t lead to long-term happiness—when we get that raise, job, or car, we will be happier for a bit. And then we’ll adjust to the new norm and the positive effect wears off.

Research suggests that 50 percent of our happiness setpoint is determined by our genes. That we can’t change. Ten percent of our happiness is determined by what happens to us. The remaining 40 percent is determined by how we respond to what happens to us. Meaning: we are in control of that 40 percent.

Research has shown that there are three primary ways to raise that 40 percent of happiness that we control:

1. Increase Your Gratitude

Being grateful helps remind you of the positive things in your life while also improving your relationships with other people. The key to know here is that the bar doesn’t have to be high in terms of what you are grateful for.

Studies have found that writing down the things you are grateful for at the end of each day, can increase the number of positive emotions you feel and improve your overall mental health.

2. Find Happy People

Which do you think would make you happier: receiving a $4,500 pay raise or a stranger being happy? You’re a bit a torn, aren’t you? The obvious answer seems to be the money but then you’re thinking, He wouldn’t be asking this question if it were the money.

A team at Harvard Medical School recently analyzed more than 5,000 people and more than 50,000 of their social connections. They found that if a friend of a friend of a friend (a.k.a. someone you’ve never met) was happy, you were 6 percent more likely to be happy. That’s triple the 2 percent chance of being happier because of a $4,500 pay rise. And the closer the connection, the bigger the effect. If it’s a friend of a friend who’s happy, the odds jump to 10 percent, and if it’s a direct friend, 15 percent.

Whether at work or home, surround yourself with people who are positive and make you happy.

3. Use Humor

The third way to increase happiness is by using humor. In a longitudinal study done at Harvard, researchers found humor was one of the healthiest adaptations to being happy in life.

When it comes to using humor at work, it’s not about making the workplace funny but about making the workplace more fun. This means opting for positive, inclusive humor rather than sarcastic or aggressive jokes. One easy way to do that is to think: one smile per hour. What is one thing you can do each hour of the day to bring a smile to your face, or the face of someone else.

For example, if you’re giving a long presentation, add a few images to your slides that will make people smile; if you’re sending emails, add a joke at the bottom to thank people for reading; if you’re sitting in traffic, listen to a comedy podcast to relieve stress and show up more present for your family when you get home.

Success and Happiness at Work

By finding ways to enjoy your work–or in the case of the student athletes, your classes and practices–not only will you boost your happiness, but you’ll also increase your success. To get started in your pursuit, practice finding things to be grateful for everyday, surround yourself with positive people, and use humor in the workplace.

Andrew Tarvin is the world’s first humor engineer, teaching people how to get better results while having more fun. He is the author of  Humor That Works: The Missing Skill for Success and Happiness at Work and CEO of Humor That Works, a consultancy for human effectiveness. For more information, please visit, www.humorthatworks.com and connect with him on Twitter, @drewtarvin. andrew@humorthatworks.com.

5 Tips For Going From Bench Player To Star In The Business World

Sports history is filled with the heroics of substitute players coming off the bench and playing a big role in a victory.

Likewise, in the working world, being a dedicated and consistent role player can prepare someone for a promotion that entails bigger responsibilities. The key, as in sports, is being ready when called upon.

“Understanding and fulfilling your role as you await your opportunity is a critical aspect of truly growing so you are prepared to make good on that opportunity when it happens,” says Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com), a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown.

“Athletics is filled with role players ready to meet the demands and the game speed of competition. The mental preparation is equally important in the workplace for those aspiring to climb the ladder and be continually successful.”

Parr offers five ways to spend time wisely while waiting in the wings and how to be well-prepared for the next, bigger opportunity:

Maximize your role. The path to promotion, Parr says, starts with the right mindset in lower positions. “Training the mind for success is essential,”  Parr says. “It begins with fully understanding and embracing your role. Doing that consistently gets you ready for the next one. Your role will be what you make of it — a launchpad for future success and a support to others while you learn, or a holding pattern leading toward stagnation and frozen development.”

Set achievable goals and commit. “How you approach your goals matters,” Parr says. “You need to write them down, including all the tasks required to accomplish them, and you need to visualize the feeling of reaching them.”

Remove negatives. “These invariably come up,” Parr says. “Be aware of the obstacles, people, and thought processes that can derail you, demotivate and distract you from making the most of your opportunity. That way, when those things appear, you are prepared to manage them and stay on track.”

Lead and set an example. “In sports, always being one of the first to practice and among the last to leave, and being the one who always encourages others — all those qualities stick in your teammates’ minds as a disciplined, winning example they can count on,” Parr says. “In the business world, your chances of reaching the next level are greatly enhanced when you exemplify a team-first, cheerful attitude on a daily basis, always being helpful to the levels above you as well as your own team, and going the extra mile.”

Study good examples/role models. It certainly helps in sports, and the corporate office is no different, Parr says, when it comes to the benefits of learning from mentors or reading up on achievers who had humble beginnings. “Watch, listen to, read, and learn from the advice and experiences of those who have excelled,” Parr says.

“Moving up in the world entails lots of things that can knock you down,” Parr says. “Embracing your role, whatever it is, means embracing the struggle to get where you want to go. You are working toward something higher, preparing for the unknown, and it requires diligence and commitment.”

Grant Parr (www.gameperformance.com) is a mental sports performance coach and the author of The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown. Parr owns and runs GAMEFACE PERFORMANCE, a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches. A recruiter and sales leader in the corporate world for 17 years, he now works with a wide variety of athletes including Olympians, professionals, collegians and high school athletes. His podcast, 90% Mental, provides a window into a broad range of athletes’ and coaches’ mental games and shares their insights around mental performance. 

How Technology Can Help Recruit and Retain Workers of all Ages

The big question in the minds of business managers–in warehousing, manufacturing, transportation and beyond–is not only how to retain a solid workforce, but how to attract a variety of skillsets and ages within the worker population. It’s not a surprise to imagine that old-school approaches are becoming a thing of the past. As Gen Z workers continue to increase representation in the workforce, employers are faced with the reality of adopting more innovation, technology and mindsets to successfully cater to both older and newer generations of workers. If the current strategy is limiting recruiting capabilities, companies are setting themselves up for failure and limiting their full potential in operations and employee expertise.

What some companies might not realize is the amount of visibility provided with modern technology and the capabilities enabled through automation. As the workforce changes, so does the method of recruiting and the level of technology necessary for successful staffing. Completed.com is a great example of how automation and technology take recruiting one step further through real-time, reliable feedback on employees seeking work in any industry.

“We saw a need to create a platform where one can review anyone in business,” explains Completed.com CEO Michael Zammuto. “One of the reasons employers haven’t had a successful platform like this before is because it’s inherently at risk of being used improperly. The technologies we’re starting to talk about are one potential and significant source of solution for that.

“Completed.com at its core includes machine learning-driven technology which looks at and develops an internal credibility score for every reviewer and every review,” Zammuto continues. “This is one of the more important things that companies like Yelp have been working on, but it’s a difficult challenge. It starts with things like technology where the talent is validated, making it more credible. In addition to that, there’s a lot of pattern matching and sediment analysis that’s done to develop an internal credibility score. This is important because of constructive, professionally-focused reviews.”

So, how much is technology really changing the pace for employee recruitment? Quite a bit, according to Zammuto, who adds that the human element is still very much needed, just for a different role. It’s not about eliminating the human element in recruiting, but reallocating it.

“Everybody in every industry has the same issue: finding and attracting the right talent,” Zammuto says. “We got to see it from the other side–the client’s issue about how they were represented online. We realized that hiring people has become complicated because of technology, but the important part of this topic is that one can automate 99 percent of something that’s content-driven and has a subjective element to it, but you do need people to review things that algorithms determine problems with.”

This insight confirms that technology is becoming more involved within the logistics world, creating even more of a dynamic between connectivity, visibility and efficiency. The secret here is employer and company information are just as valuable to recruiting the right kind of talent as is the available employee information. Just as companies want to learn about the candidates sent their way, employees are looking for an environment that offers more than just a paycheck. If a strong candidate is subjected to a miserable climate, outdated practices and lack of recognition, they’re more likely to visit with competitors that meet their expectations.

In the modern workforce, competing companies are willing to offer tempting salaries with promising career incentives to win over another great employee. Recognition is just as much of a factor as the dollar amount on the paycheck. “Part of this process is ensuring great employees receive recognition they seek while others are held accountable,” Zammuto notes. “This gives you a chance to hold people accountable and celebrate the employees and managers that do great work, and you can take it at face value.”

Taking it even further, regular internal reviews are highly encouraged to successfully maintain talent retention. Not only do these regular checks reiterate accountability for management and the employees, skills development is evaluated and encouraged, ultimately eliminating the mundane aspect of a job. Workers are encouraged with feedback and become motivated to polish their skillset while voicing concerns and addressing redundancies. This is a critical element that goes beyond recruiting and retention as it impacts all aspects of company operations. At the end of the day, your employees are the backbone of the company.

“Most of the traditional methods have either disappeared or been weakened in some way,” Zammuto says. “The remaining method that’s useful is direct referrals to jobs. This is the only remaining valid strategy for getting good candidates to your company, but it’s very slow and doesn’t always scale very well. Companies are having trouble finding people because of the mechanisms for doing so have weakened a lot. With people being more mobile than before, but the information about that mobility shielding the good from the bad performers, how is anyone supposed to hire the right candidates?”

Technology is the common denominator in solving this problem. As companies learn about automation integration for maximizing workflows, this same method should absolutely be considered for selecting the best and preferred types of employees. This approach challenges the old-fashioned methods and takes a granular look at the talent pool, saving time, money, resources and energy invested.

The bigger picture shows that recruiting methods are changing and directly impacting retention. Any company can fill a position, but retaining that position is where the challenge is. What benefit is it to hire a candidate if they don’t contribute and end up leaving? There is no benefit. A company that fills three roles but only retains one isn’t fulfilling its bottom line. Something is missing and technology is the answer to solving this issue. Preserve company resources and time by investing in technology that can identify the best candidates that are looking for long-term careers. The investment upfront will pay off in the long haul.

3 Keys to Become More Resilient: How Mindset, Skillset, and Ability to Reset Empowers Leaders

Building resilient organizations requires resilient leaders. Being resilient enables you to overcome setbacks, build effective teams, and stay focused on what really matters in your life and company.

Resilience is our ability to recover when we are faced with obstacles, difficulties, and setbacks. It allows you to tap into your strength and courage so you can persevere when things don’t go as you had planned.

Research finds that resilient people excel in problem solving, positive communication, emotional intelligence, and emotional regulation. They are also more hopeful and optimistic, and have higher levels of self-esteem. These are vital skills for leaders, both for their own health and happiness and to inspire their teams.

The people who work for you pay close attention to how you deal with challenges. Resilient leaders look at failures not as crushing defeats but as opportunities to grow and move forward. Resilience allows you to set a powerful, positive, effective example.

When I speak to groups, I sometimes begin by asking: “How many of you have survived the worst thing that has ever happened to you?” It’s a way of demonstrating that we are all, by our very nature, strong and resilient.

At the same time, resilience is not static. It is a set of habits, beliefs, and behaviors we can cultivate and practice proactively, so they are there when we need them. And whether we like it or not, life gives us plenty of opportunities to practice!

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for a major setback or traumatic event to begin building your resilience. You can start today by focusing on three areas: your mindset, skillset, and your ability to reset:

Mindset includes your habits, emotional intelligence, and beliefs. Your mindset is the story you tell yourself about yourself, including how you think about stress. When we are under stress, the emotional center of our brain lights up, shooting the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline through our brain and body. This was originally intended to help us freeze, run away, or fight an impending attacker; the same process happens when we face an emotional setback or threat. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a real or perceived threat. When you identify how you respond to stress, you can begin to proactively manage it. The bottom line: Our beliefs drive behavior. And beliefs can be changed.

Skillset includes our ability to cultivate gratitude, optimism, and other positive emotions; to manage stress; to mitigate negative self-talk; and to engage in activities that are good for us like humor, social connection, mindfulness, and self-care. Some skills you can start practicing today include:

GratitudeNumerous scientific studies have shown that practicing being grateful on a regular basis lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, improves heart health and sleep, and lowers our levels of stress. People who practice gratitude have improved sleep, mood, decision-making, and relationships along with fewer aches, pains, and bouts of depression. The benefits are almost immediate. You don’t even have to find anything to be grateful for. The simple act of looking releases the feel-good neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine and lowers the stress hormone cortisol by 23%.

Optimism also lowers cortisol and increases dopamine and serotonin. People who practice optimism have fewer aches and pains, along with better physical and mental health. It has also been linked with higher income and more successful relationships.

Mindfulness is simply being where you are when you’re there. Mindfulness trains your mind to focus on the moment instead of worrying about what occurred in the past or what might happen in the future. This makes you less likely to hit the panic button, and reverses stress-related changes in the brain.

Laughter is good for your soul and your brain. Studies show a genuine smile (one that involves facial muscles around the eyes) sparks a change in brain activity related to a good mood.

Social connection is the greatest predictor of longevity. Surround yourself with people that lift you up, celebrate, and laugh with you.

Reset is getting out of being busy, being deliberate about where you invest your energy, and making sure that your actions are in line with your intentions in terms of your priorities. Taking the time to reset is imperative for leaders to keep their focus on what matters most. For instance, it can help you identify your high-payoff activities.

A high-payoff activity is an activity that brings the greatest result for the time invested. Twenty percent of the tasks that we do on any given day generate 80 percent of our results. By identifying the tasks and responsibilities that bring the greatest return for time invested, you can focus on planning and prioritizing these activities.

What do you wish you had more time for? Where is it scheduled in your calendar? If you tracked your time would it be representative of what you say is most important to you? Take the time to make sure your actions match your intentions. It’s all about focusing on what’s important.

About the Author: Resilience expert Anne Grady is an internationally recognized speaker and author. Anne shares humor, humility, refreshing honesty, and practical strategies anyone can use to triumph over adversity and master change. She is the author of “Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience, and Triumph” and “52 Strategies for Life, Love, & Work.” For more information, please visit www.AnneGradyGroup.com.

Maven Wave Earns Spot on 2019 Best Workplaces in Consulting & Professional Services List

Google Cloud Premier Partner, Maven Wave confirmed this week its place on the 2019 Best Workplaces in Consulting and Professional Services list compiled by Great Place to Work and FORTUNE. The rankings on the list come from over 39,000 employees evaluated and providing feedback on elements such as leadership relationships, respect, fairness in workplace decisions, and team camaraderie.

Placing 30th on the list for small and medium-sized companies, the Chicago-based company prides itself in its positive culture and identifying the ‘X Factor’ among its employees. Maven also fosters an environment supportive of charity involvement and employs a Community Outreach Program matching employee donations to non-profits and sponsors employee-nominated charitable events.

“At Maven Wave, we always look for the ‘X-factor’ when hiring and then work hard to develop these employees,” said Jeff Lee, Partner & Founder at Maven Wave. “Having ‘X-factor’ means that in addition to technical expertise, an individual brings an element of likeability and charisma to the table. As a natural influencer, everyone wants to be on his or her team. Consulting is a human-to-human business, and X-factor is a cornerstone of our success.”

The digital solutions provider is no stranger to such recognition, however. Back in 2018, the company was named “Chicago’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For®” and placed on Crain’s Fast 50 for five consecutive years. Additionally, the Maven Wave has been awarded the Google Cloud North America Services Partner of the Year twice.

“Consulting and Professional Services companies operate in some of the most competitive spaces and endure the challenges of unpredictable and rapidly changing markets,” said Michael Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work. “The Best Workplaces on this list have invested in the professional development and personal care of their employees; which have become crucial parts of their value proposition that separate them from the competition in recruiting and retaining talent.”


Forbes Recognizes Hub Group in 2019 List of America’s Best Mid-Size Employers

Leading supply chain solutions provider Hub Group has made the Forbes List of America’s Best Mid-Size Employers for the second time in a row, placing at number 18 out of 500 companies in the Transportation and Logistics category.

This list highlights companies that support a culture that makes employees feel secure, understood, needed and inspired. Hub Group placed number 22 overall in 2018.

An anonymous employment recommendation and satisfaction survey conducted on over 30,000 employees determines which companies make the final list. The consecutive recognition reiterates the company’s focus on employee wellness and growth through mentorship and career advancement training, and rewarding its top talent.

The company currently has 4,377 employees and is the only transportation and logistics company listed within the first 50 in the overall list. Landstar System and USA Truck are the only other companies that made it within the first 50 placements with the same category.

“We believe the employees of Hub Group are our most valuable asset. We are continuously evaluating and improving our strategy for employee engagement through training, professional development programs and internal growth. Our goal is to encourage a corporate culture that is collaborative, empowering and inclusive,” said David Yeager, Hub Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “We are honored to be recognized by Forbes two years in a row.”


IT Job Satisfaction: 6 Keys to Keeping Your Top IT Talent

Technology roles are among the most difficult to fill. Demand exceeds supply in the industry, so talented tech workers can afford to be choosy when looking for work.

For IT teams, this makes retention crucial. When you struggle to replace employees who voluntarily leave the company, there are negative impacts to productivity, customer service, information security, and profitability. Employee loyalty is essential to your success.

So what inspires loyalty? Job satisfaction. Satisfied employees are less likely to look for new work and less likely to consider other opportunities. The latter is especially important in IT because the average IT pro receives 32 job solicitations each week.

To improve retention and loyalty and avoid the struggles that come with recruiting new employees, focus on boosting job satisfaction. We reviewed more than a dozen surveys and research studies to uncover the most important factors that contribute to IT job satisfaction. Here’s what we found.

Strong coworker relationships increase job satisfaction

In a survey conducted by Spiceworks last year, IT professionals ranked how 10 different factors contributed to their happiness at work. The results: strong coworker relationships have the biggest positive impact on employee satisfaction. Survey respondents rated coworker relationships as even more important than pay, stress levels, and work hours.

Unfortunately, improving coworker relationships is much more complicated than improving pay, work hours, or vacation time. Employees evaluate their coworkers independently, forming relationships based on compatibility of personality, shared goals and interests, and many other highly individualized reasons.

You can’t simply decide for everyone to become friends, but you can create an environment that encourages employees to form friendships. A few ways to do that is to:

Hire people you can see yourself being friends with. By hiring people compatible with your own personality, you build a team of people who are more likely to share interests and values.

Change your seating arrangement. Even if employees don’t have enough in common with their coworkers to form friendships, changing desks occasionally gives them an opportunity to meet people from other departments that might be worth befriending.

Provide opportunities for interaction outside of the office. It’s hard to get to know your coworkers on a personal level when all of your interactions center around work.

Boredom increases dissatisfaction

survey conducted by TEKsystems found that only 48 percent of entry- to mid-level IT professionals feel as though they’re doing the most satisfying work of their careers. And while the numbers are trending upwards—from only 39 percent in 2014—more than half are not as satisfied as they could be with the work they’re doing in their current positions.

To prevent job dissatisfaction resulting from boredom, provide employees with plenty of opportunities to do interesting, meaningful, or challenging work:

Change things up.  If employees aren’t challenged in their current roles, consider moving them onto a team where they can do something different or learn a new technology.

Encourage them to pursue other interests. Provide professional development funds that employees can use to learn something new, give them time to focus on pet projects that are outside of the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities, or make your employment contracts more flexible so they can work on a side gig in their own time.

Give them more responsibilities. When employees outgrow their current roles and find themselves bored and unchallenged, their natural inclination is to look for a new position.

Funding and awareness play a part in IT job satisfaction

survey by Campus Technology looked at job satisfaction for IT professionals in higher education institutions and found that inadequate funding for projects and new technology and administrators not understanding what they do both created job dissatisfaction.

Lack of funding is often the direct result of poor communication between IT and the individuals who make funding decisions. If leaders don’t understand how investing in technology will benefit the entire organization, they’ll never sign off on the investment.

For many organizations, IT operates in a silo—and often with an us-versus-them mentality. This is usually the result of non-technical sponsors and leaders making unreasonable demands and failing to see issues from the perspective of those who understand the technology.

But eliminating employee dissatisfaction caused by these issues requires breaking down those silos and working as a team. Consider hiring someone to operate as a liaison between IT and non-technical departments and leadership. Choose someone who’s spent time on both sides of the fence who has the ability to present IT concerns in terms of overall business benefits.

Improving communication between technical and nontechnical divisions reduces the risk of IT employees becoming dissatisfied because they feel misunderstood and underappreciated. Additionally, it increases the chance that your department receives the funding needed to stay on top of technological advances and trends.

Salary matters, but not as much as you think

A survey conducted by TechTarget found that salary also impacts job satisfaction. However, the impact of salary on job satisfaction is much smaller than that of other, more important factors like work that’s intellectually challenging and a supportive work environment.

And while company culture and interesting projects may be more important than salary, you shouldn’t neglect the role that salary plays in keeping employees happy. Few people will stay in a job—even one that they love—if they don’t make enough to pay their bills.

If you’re concerned that employee salaries are contributing to dissatisfaction, follow the lead of other companies in the industry and take an innovative approach to setting salaries:

Pay Silicon Valley rates, even if you’re not in Silicon Valley. Basecamp’s headquarters is in Chicago, but the company employs people who live all over the world. While the company could get away with setting salaries based on cost of living where employees work—or cost of living in Chicago—all employees earn Silicon Valley rates.

Pay people to move somewhere with a lower cost of living. If you can’t afford Silicon Valley rates, consider an incentive for employees to move somewhere less expensive. Zapier offers its employees a $10,000 relocation package to move out of Silicon Valley and into an area with a lower cost of living.

Work with HR to personalize employee benefits. Even if you can’t increase salaries, there are opportunities to put more money in employees’ pockets with personalized benefits. For example, Student Loan Hero offers its employees student loan debt repayment matching. BambooHR employees get an annual $2,000 vacation stipend.

Job training is important for both employees and employers

survey by The Conference Board found that one of the areas employees are least satisfied with at work is educational and job training programs. Data from a survey from CompTIA shows that this concern is particularly important for IT professionals because one of their top concerns is that their skills quickly become obsolete.

Wish list items for IT professionals further highlight the impact that training, education, and advancement have on job satisfaction.

More than half of IT professionals choose their careers because of their “passion/interest in technology.” That interest doesn’t subside when employees master a particular technology. IT pros are hungry to continue learning, experimenting, and innovating. When their job enables them to do so, they’re much more satisfied.

At the same time, employers expect that one of the most difficult hiring challenges they’ll face this year will be “finding workers with expertise in emerging tech fields.”

Professional development opportunities, on-the-job training, and education stipends increase employee satisfaction. Plus, they limit the need for employers to seek new hires who have experience with emerging technologies; you’re able to fill new roles with existing employees.

There are a number of ways to provide IT employees with development opportunities:

-Provide funds for employees to attend industry conferences, earn certifications, take courses, or pursue additional degrees.

-Distribute a list of local mentorship opportunities, trade organizations, and community IT groups, and subsidize any membership fees.

-Hire industry leaders/experts to host an on-site seminar or training for your group once a quarter, or host monthly lunch-and-learn events.

When work is meaningful, other factors are less impactful

In both 2017 and 2018, Elon Musk’s SpaceX landed a spot on Glassdoor’s “employees’ choice” list of best places to work. The company has an overall 4.4-star rating, 96 percent of employees approve of Musk as CEO, and 90 percent of employees would recommend working for SpaceX to friends. By all accounts, SpaceX employees are satisfied with their jobs.

But a recent study from PayScale shows that SpaceX employees earn less than employees of other top tech companies and experience the highest amounts of stress.

So why are employees who are underpaid and overstressed so satisfied with their jobs? SpaceX employees feel that their work is meaningful. SpaceX earned the highest rating of all of the companies PayScale compared in the “high job meaning” category.

Of course, when your job is to build the technology needed to colonize other planets, it’s not hard to find meaning in it. But not all companies have such inspiring goals. Even so, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make the work your employees do meaningful.

According to Michael G. Pratt, professor of management and organization at Boston College, “Meaningfulness is about the why, not just about what.” Help employees understand the “why” behind their day-to-day responsibilities to help them find meaning in their work:

-Connect IT’s tasks to overall company goals.

-Share stories of how IT projects helped end users.

-Publicize the company’s mission, values, and contributions.

The most important factors for IT job satisfaction

Like any employee of any industry, IT professionals want to earn a reasonable living, avoid unhealthy amounts of stress, and access important benefits. But those things are just the starting point for IT job satisfaction. True satisfaction stems from filling more complex needs.

People seek careers in IT because they’re good at what they do and interested in using their skills to build innovative products and solve complex problems. They seek challenges, are motivated by learning, and thrive when collaborating with like-minded people. They don’t mind dealing with stress if they’re contributing to something meaningful.

The companies that win the talent war will be those that work to improve the more fundamental aspects of IT job satisfaction. They’ll attract and retain top talent by building a department where employees find true fulfillment with their teams, work, and future prospects with the company.

Jessica Greene is a staff writer at Spoke.