Companies That Inspire

The following is a guest post from Future Buzz community member Denise Wilson.

In these tough economic times, creating a culture of inspired employees can be especially challenging. While things seem to be turning around a bit many people are still concerned that their name might end up on a short list of job cuts.

The uneasiness in today’s job market presents a complex challenge for companies: how do we create a culture of inspiration, positivity and creativity at work in the wake of an unsteady job market? The success of a company, especially in these market conditions, requires that all employees be performing at top levels.

For those looking for inspiration and role models there’s good news. Despite tough times, there are a number of great companies who are cultivating inspiration in their employees. Here are three creative ways that companies are putting their employees first.

Zappos: Establish a Values System and Let it Guide Everything You Do

Known for their exemplary customer service and their zany, inspired culture, Zappos tops our list of companies that inspire. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and author of Delivering Happiness, explicitly defined the ten core values of his company and built it up always keeping these traits in mind. These values shape every move the company makes from hiring to business strategy. Hsieh understood a fundamental concept that others often lose sight of: the level of employee happiness directly correlates to the success of a company. If your employees are miserable, it will inevitably be reflected in their job performance. Especially in a business setting where employees are interfacing with customers on a regular basis and transferring their satisfaction in a hundred small ways directly to customers, it’s critical to keep morale high. In keeping with the core values list, Hsieh encourages a culture of family, positivity, fun, and good communication in the workplace. In doing so, he has built a billion dollar business known for its exceptional customer service.

Google: Find the Innovators – and Then Let Them Actually Innovate

Google is another great example of a company that has cultivated inspiration in the workplace. Similar to Zappos, one of the key elements of their success is their focus on creating a family in the workplace, where open communication is encouraged. Google Co-Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin conduct weekly hands-on meetings with their employees, encouraging their team to express opinions, share ideas, and engage in a conversation about their experiences at the company. By doing this, they have created a culture where their employees are comfortable expressing themselves, and feel as though their opinions matter. In addition to soliciting employee input at every stage of the process, Google’s employees are encouraged to pursue side projects, participate in Innovation Labs, and generally explore new ideas that could move the company’s mission forward.

Starbucks: Treat Your Employees Better Than the Competition

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz also understands that happy employees are good employees. Starting in 1988, the company began offering full benefits, including paid vacation, short term disability, stock options, 401k packages with employer contribution, and tuition reimbursement to full and part-time employees. Few other retail, hospitality, or food employers were so generous with benefits. By implementing these benefits packages, Schultz sent a message to baristas that he valued the work that they do for the company. By cultivating a sense of respect for his employees, Schultz boosted employee morale and effectively reduced the company’s turnover rates.

The leaders of these successful companies all have something very simple in common: they understand that people are what make a company great. While there is no specific recipe for inspiration, by creating a culture where employees feel valued, empowered, comfortable, and motivated, they have achieved success in even the toughest of economic times. They’ve conveyed a sense of respect for their employees by providing a community, incredible benefits, and ample opportunities for communication.

About the Author: Denise Wilson writes about Cloverleaf Innovation. She is fascinated by the psychology behind inspiration.

image credit: Shutterstock