I have a few friends whose companies have won “best workplace” awards. Most of these awards involve self-nomination and self-promotion. Now I am sure the winners of these types of awards do indeed have great workplaces. However, I recently had an experience which is a much better Litmus test of whether I am doing a good job in creating an “award-winning” work environment.
One of our most valued employees, Giselle, was offered a higher paying job with a national organization. She wasn’t looking for a new position but a cousin who worked there recommended her and she was pretty much offered the job without even an interview. When she approached us about the opportunity, we had mixed feelings. We valued her as employee and didn’t want to her to leave, but also were happy for her that she had a new opportunity which could improve her standard of living.
Hoping she would stay, we tried to make staying here as attractive as possible. Ultimately, she decided to leave and we wished her luck and have a farewell celebration.
After one day (yes, that’s right one day) she called us up. Not only did she miss her work “family” but she was bored. The new, higher paying job was not intellectually stimulating and the day moved for her in slow motion. I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to make that call. We encouraged her to give it a few more days. But, the very next day, she called again. She had made a mistake. She missed her co-workers and her responsibilities. She wanted back and really hoped we would re-hire her. The earnest emotion in her voice was palpable.
As you can imagine, this was an easy decision to make. Our work family missed her as much as she missed us. Even some clients were disappointed to hear about her departure. So you can imagine how pleased I was to see her back at home just one week later.
I think she now has an even deeper sense of loyalty and commitment to our firm having experienced work life outside of 888 Red Light. When I hear about “best places or work” awards, I wonder how many of those places have employees who would return if it involved a pay cut and swallowing one’s pride. To me, that is what makes a great place to work!