WDEV Interview: Smart Business Wednesday 2.8.12

Socially Responsible Human Resource Practices:  Building a Team with Limited Resources!

Many folks think building a good, loyal, fabulous staff is all about monetary compensation.  Both scientific and empirical research say this is simply not the case.  For start up businesses, or even established businesses in the current economy, there are many HR policies and practices that can assist a company to enhance and retain its most important asset:  its employees/staff, or as we say at LineSync Architecture, our TEAM.

Early this afternoon (2.8.12) I was interviewed by Carl Eitner of Equal Time Radio regarding Socially Responsible Human Resource (HR) Practices, which is mainly about empowering employees, honoring the people who assist CEOs and Owners grow businesses.  The honoring, it turns out, does not necessarily need to be centered around financial incentives nor rewards.  The number one factor is empowerment, a staff member’s control over her/his own life.

When we started LineSync Architecture almost 23 years ago, the only benefit we could offer was a Paid Birthday Off.  We had just one employee who understood we were a start up company, and he was thrilled that we came up with something we could offer!

For the last 10 years or so, the Team participates in the decision making process whereby a new benefit is added annually.  This team participation in the decision making creates an even more significant impact, according to Team members.

Some our Team inspired Benefits, in order of their arrival:

• Flex Time and/or Condensed Work Week

• Ski Pass Contribution

• Emergency Ski Days

• Annual Appreciation Dinner

• Paid Vacation Time

• Continuing Education/Conference Costs

• Paid Sick Days

In an effort to support healthy lifestyles in our resort community, as well as offer an end of the year bonus, the Ski Pass Contribution came early on.  It was then quite logical for the next Benefit to be Emergency Ski Days  wherein the Studio empties out onto the slopes!

Often decisions are based on the financial situation of the company at the time. Once a Benefit is established, however, it is for perpetuity.

One year the decision to institute an Annual Appreciation Dinner was the most sustainable choice.  Those first few Dinners were in our home with the boss chef and architect server.  We graduated to a catered dinner and finally an event at a local establishment, always with significant others included so people know who folks are referring to!

Often the choices are predictable, as with the year we were able to establish Paid Vacation Time.  Other years the decisions are surprising such as when the Team chose Paid Sick Days over Retirement Accounts, a benefit that  continues to be passed over.

The biggest draw for our Team may just be the awesomely aesthetically pleasing well lit and well ventilated space to spend 6-to-sometimes-10 hours a day in overlooking our vegetable garden and into the woods, contributing to a desirable workplace environment.  However, there are other policies and practices we follow to enhance the work experience of being on the LineSync Architecture Team:
• Company Policies on Equal Pay, Harassment, Ethics
• Job Secure Policy for Improvement Suggestions or Complaints
• Open Book Management on all LineSync Architecture projects
• Participation in New Hire Interviews, choosing new Team members
• Mentoring Opportunities
• Participation in LineSync Architecture Philanthropic Decisions
• Regular Performance Evaluations
• Weekly Wednesday Tea at Three
• Kitchen & Break Room (with fridge, microwave, cooktop and popcorn maker)
• Celebrations of Employee Anniversaries with LineSync Architecture
• Active Search for Diversity among Team Members (including folks facing barriers to employment)

These HR Practices, and our consistent monitoring of them, keep the LineSync Architecture Team thinking about what each of us can do to create a better workplace environment, a better firm as a whole, and how the firm can contribute to a better world.

The Interview:  http://equaltimeradio.com/?q=audio/play/408                       www.equaltimeradio.com

Resources:
• The Livable Jobs Toolkit is available through Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR.org)  This amazing workbook guides a business to which benefits are most realistic for your particular company using worksheets and data.  The three sections offer a guide to benefits that are:
1. Creative with little or no cost;
2. Cost more, offer more;
3. More cost and substantial return.

• BCorporation.net has useful resource suggestions (www.bcorporation.net/services/resources) as well as the B impact assessment tool to assess your company’s impact on each of its stakeholders and improve your social and environmental performance using the Tools and Best Practices embedded in the Survey.
Results from the assessment are displayed in easy to read B Reports with specific scores for environment, community, employees, etc.  These results are transparent to the public for all Certified B Corporations.

My newest Business Venture:  ReWiring Success: Socially Responsible Strategies that Work.  (www.rewiringsuccess.com)  This is a new business venture for me and my colleague, Ellen Meyer Shorb.   Our evolving consulting practice does, and our eventual book will, assist companies with strategies for becoming more Socially Responsible.  For now, the blog holds a collection of essays based on interviews of successful Socially Responsible business people.

Julie Lineberger
8 February 2012

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Explore posts in the same categories: LineSync Architecture, VBSR, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility

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