She was serious, and she wasn’t taking no for an answer.
She was an executive of W.W. Grainger Inc., the worldwide industrial supply company based in suburban Chicago. Grainger had just been named one of the Chicago Tribune’s Top 100 Workplaces, a project the newspaper had undertaken with WorkplaceDynamics, the nation’s largest surveyor of employee satisfaction.
Grainger executives and employees were thrilled to have made the list. They wanted to celebrate. I had headed up the project at the Chicago Tribune. My Grainger friend wanted me to attend their celebration and present the award to Grainger CEO James Ryan, who had just flown back from Asia for the special occasion. But I was recovering from a bout of bronchitis, and no other Tribune editors could be found to do the job.
“You don’t understand,” my executive friend said. “You have to be here.”
The Grainger headquarters was close to my home. Only after arriving did I realize how important this really was. Hundreds of balloons floated in the building’s bright atrium. A band was tuning up. Video equipment stood ready to record the moment. And everywhere I looked there were dozens of large sheet cakes bearing the image of the front page of the Chicago Tribune heralding the good Grainger news.
Hundreds of employees filled the auditorium and cheered loudly as I presented Ryan the award.
The experience reinforced what we had written in our special section just a few days earlier honoring Grainger and other Top Workplaces. A healthy working environment isn’t just a fun place to be. It’s a place that feels right. You know it. You’re a part of it. You commit to your company and your job in special ways because of it.
And you don’t take no for an answer when your company has important plans.
My small interaction with Grainger that day said a lot about the force and determination behind the company. No wonder that Grainger has been successful for 85 years and operates in 157 countries.
My experience with the Top Workplaces project was so positive that I now help WorkplaceDynamics show companies and employees what it takes to be a Top Workplace, along with the benefits that come from achieving that milestone.
WorkplaceDynamics has made it simple for companies to understand what their employees think and say about their work—and how to improve. They have developed a new concept called Organizational Health. Top Workplaces are organizationally healthy—headed in the right direction, with strong execution and employee feelings of connection. Not surprisingly, they outperform their peers financially.
I saw it in the healthy culture and environment at Grainger that day. I look forward in days to come sharing more with you here about WorkplaceDynamics’ findings, how other companies are succeeding as Top Workplaces—and how your firm can, too.