(ENTREPRENEUR.COM) Google, Facebook and Salesforce Consistently Rank as Best Places to Work. Here's Why.

Empowering each employee is the key to building an amazing culture.

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Yuri Kruman

GUEST WRITER

Employee Experience Consultant | PR Strategist | Author | Speaker

July 26, 2018 6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Talent is still king and tech is Teflon. Despite a host of scandals in the industry, including #MeToo, diversity, data privacy and even fraud, the Googles, Facebooks and Salesforces of the world still draw the best and brightest to their door.

Job and recruiting site Glassdoor, as well as many others, have consistently ranked these three companies as Best Places to Work, with each of the three at or near no. 1 for the last few years. Granted, the respective data mining scandals plaguing both Facebook and Google have not played out entirely, and talent is often a lagging indicator, but none of this has hurt profitability or massive reach for either. In fact, their prowess in attracting talent has gone undiminished despite record low unemployment and a job market that strongly favors talent and giving it the terms it demands.

Since our three companies are seen as standard-bearers in their own right for how to build a great employee-centric workplace culture, it bears to understand how they actually do this -- prestige, hype and Kool-Aid notwithstanding.

At first blush, it would seem logical to expect the best places to work to have the highest employee loyalty. Yet, with tech having the highest employee turnover rate of all industries (13.2 percent), it’s clear employee loyalty is neither expected nor rewarded highly in Best Places to Work rankings.

Imagine an engineer or two on your team giving notice in the middle of a coding sprint, a seeming nightmare for project timelines and strategic planning. Yet, the relatively short average tenures (2.5 at Facebook, 3.1 at Google and 3.5 at Salesforce) seem to have had little to no impact to date on profitability, prestige or the ability to consistently attract top talent.

Culture is still the key to attracting top talent. So what are these companies doing to build and maintain such an amazing culture? There are five main pillars that underpin their success.

1. Values.

In the spirit of moving quickly and breaking things, all three companies have found it critical to maintain transparency about where the company is going, what it’s doing and how through regular town halls and office hours by the CEO. All are big believers in open communication and regular two-way feedback between employees and managers. All three are at least nominally committed to work/life balance, which includes letting employees work remotely at least part of the time, although they remain campus-centered companies.

2. Impact and vision.

There are few things as strong as the outsized impact of working on a product or service that impacts hundreds of billions of users around the world, that bring young, bright-eyed talent to work for the three companies.

What’s more, all three company CEOs -- two of whom are charismatic cofounders (Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Mark Benioff of Salesforce) and one is a company lifer with an inspiring life story (Sundar Pichai of Alphabet/Google) -- have a big vision of connecting the world, not being evil and improving the state of the world by empowering business. As such, everyone working for these three companies is connected to a mission much greater than himself.

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3. Mission and innovation.

Never underestimate the power of the mission statement. When people are sacrificing their best year to work crazy hours for you, your mission better be crystal clear and constantly repeated, lest you lose people to the minutiae of their code or job. At all three companies, the mission statement is repeated and espoused as often as possible throughout the company, both internally and out to the world, from the top on down, starting with their leaders.  

The mission of Facebook, although recently changed, is still clear in its focus and thrust. As Zuckerberg has said, this is “to develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.” Google’s is “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Salesforce’s is to enable “everyone who wants to change the world … [with] the technology to do so.”

And the fact that all three hire incredibly intelligent and motivated people to work on big world problems results in all of them having a great feeling to work together on products with massive impact, which in turn makes these three firms top innovators in their fields.

After all, as Steve Jobs once famously said, “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

4. Financial growth.

A rising tide lifts all boats; we learn early on in life. This couldn’t be more true for companies whose breakneck growth can fuel innovation, a great culture, a big vision and personal and professional development for all employees, to say nothing of a large range of perks by now standard in tech companies.

It all starts with paying all employees a highly competitive salary and offering a basket of health and financial benefits, as well as adding short-term perks like free food, gym, transportation and dry cleaning to keep employees from having to worry much about errands. Google and Facebook are even working on building and running employee housing to take away the anxiety of high real estate prices in Silicon Valley.

5. Leadership’s focus on maximizing human potential.

Brilliant CEOs often get sidetracked by crises or the launch of cool products. But at Facebook, Google and Salesforce, leadership isn’t just focused on product launches and crisis management, but since the beginning, on maintaining trust and making their company employee-centric. They also make sure to listen regularly and with sincerity, show that they actually care by facilitating necessary changes to keep employees happy and act quickly and decisively to control crises.

In practice, taking great care of their people means ample opportunities for professional and personal development, clear expectations around promotion and pay increases, constant feedback to stimulate regular on-the job improvement, as well as mentorship, guidance and coaching. All of this starts with facilitating open communication in both directions between management and employees.

And in the end, despite tech’s late troubles, the track record these three companies have built will continue attracting top talent, unless and until their actions no longer match their stated values. The companies will sink or swim with the quality of their leaders.

(FORBES) Eight Steps Fortune 500 HR Leaders Must Take To Embrace The Employee Experience

Yuri Kruman

CEO / Founder of Master The Talk Consulting. Career/Business/Life Coach. Startup Exec/Advisor/Investor. Published Author.

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Though 2018 has been dubbed "The Year of the Employee Experience (EX)," many Fortune 500 HR leaders are still playing catch-up in understanding and embracing that EX is just as important — if not more so — to their bottom line than customer experience (CX).

Behind buzzwords like "war for talent" and "employee engagement," and beyond slick PR and on-campus recruiting campaigns and short-term perks, EX is the totality of interactions between employer and employee from well before the start date until long after the exit interview.

As Maya Angelou once said, "People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel." How much truer this is for companies and their leadership? One look at Glassdoor company pages shows fanatic praise mixed with horror stories.

With record-low unemployment and record-high employee mobility, it's never been more important for companies large and small to critically evaluate, plan out, optimize and improve every stage and component of their EX. Enterprises find themselves with little room for error and tight deadlines to transform their HR and communication practices, or else.

The cost of losing an employee too early (the average tenure of millennials in a job is 24 months) can run up to twice or more the employee's average salary, given the cost of recruiting a new employee plus training and the time it takes to onboard them. Knowing there is no magic bullet, Fortune 500 C-suites are looking for incremental change to stem the tide.

In my own work on both sides of the equation, as a consultant for several Fortune 500 companies then as an executive coach helping hundreds of mid-career Fortune 500 execs transition to their dream jobs, I've seen a fuller spectrum than most of the practices that work and others that fail miserably.

Here are the best practices I've found.

1. Help each employee proactively "find themselves," then extend the experience to candidates.

Empower each employee to figure out his or her life mission, values, ideal client outcomes and preferred role. Then, help them create a detailed career action plan and a clear priority list of ideal incentives, including compensation, appropriate health and financial benefits and other perks to help them thrive. Preemptive alignment between projects, people and goals on personal, team and organizational levels gives the enterprise a win-win.

Going one step further, provide the same tools to potential hires, helping them filter themselves out organically up front. Showing you actually care is great for your brand, even while it helps your bottom line by investing in the right — not just the best available — talent.

2. Listen to each employee carefully, thoroughly and regularly, rather than dictating to them.

Poor communication is the main reason employees become stressed, burned out and gone, regardless of how good a job is otherwise.

Lend an ear, not a survey. Make them feel safe, healthy, focused and empowered. Ask what makes them tick, what they want out of their career and life, and their personal development priorities. Then give them work they like, and the pay and personally relevant incentives they want. Help them progress quickly in their career through personal development and constant opportunities to grow. Be transparent about everything going on in your company, and treat everyone like an adult. If you fail at that, you'll find they quickly leave.

3. Understand all the various motivations and mindsets of each person in your organization.

The C-suite most wants to maximize financial performance, set and evangelize the vision and empower everyone else to execute on it. Middle management looks to steady the boat through enforcement and consistent performance. HR filters out candidates, negotiates incentives and avoids compliance problems. Each has its own incentives and disincentives in communicating or holding back.

An effective internal communication strategy acknowledges and leverages each of these sets of incentives and continually seeks transparency around the organization and mutual alignment on vision and mission.

4. In your HR strategy, embrace and leverage structural shifts happening quickly in the economy.

This includes automation by artificial intelligence (AI), outsourcing and increased mobility between jobs and industries. Acknowledge the writing on the wall. And if you love them, let them go. Enable rotation programs, apprenticeships and secondments to other firms. Create an internal innovation lab and funnel top talent and serious resources to making it thrive. Provided you make a later return an attractive option, these are actually great ways to retain and grow your investment in each employee.

Create a consistently great EX, and top talent will come back with additional training and experience from elsewhere. Word travels fast, whether it's good or bad.

5. Treat employees like VIP customers.

Create a safe environment for giving and receiving feedback, and make sure the feedback is regular. Make both anonymous and direct feedback available. Celebrate wins both big and small and help team members recognize each other publicly for both.

6. Help each employee become the best version of him or herself professionally and personally.

Help them work smarter, not harder. Get them the best tools they need to work quickly and flexibly. Create a tech and learning-and-development budget, relevant software, and other tools to help them continue to improve themselves. Streamline, automate and outsource to improve quality, save time and costs.

7. Make remote and flexible work easier, beyond the usual 9 to 5 face time.

This is a must to keep millennials around longer, save on transit costs and improve morale, family and personal life.

8. Set apart dedicated time for everyone to work on outside projects, be safely vulnerable when needed and fail forward and iterate quickly to get better.

All people need autonomy, trust, health and financial well-being, plus mental safety from their bosses and management to do their best work continuously.

Instead of "letting the inmates run the prison," the best HR strategy is giving professionals everything they need to thrive, then getting out of the way and letting them make you look good.

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CEO / Founder of Master The Talk Consulting. Career/Business/Life Coach. Startup Exec/Advisor/Investor. Published Author.