An acquaintance of mine who I had some work with gave me a call one to see if I could meet with him at First Watch. I said, “Of course.” This was the beginning of one of my most satisfying engagements.

He had explained to me that he just got back from a “Great Place to Work” convention and wanted to be a Great Place to Work. I told him he already had a reputation for being that. He said, “I want to be better.” Amazing that during a recession someone had the vision that the way to work out of the recession was to get better and engage their workforce.

We began by doing an iPPQ survey that measures statistically employee ‘Happiness at Work’ in five areas: Contribution, Conviction, Culture, Commitment, and Confidence circled by Trust, Recognition, and Pride. This is not a Job Satisfaction survey. We want to know how associates feel about working at that place of business. When we received the results, it did show that they were a very good place to work and had some areas that needed to be attended to. We addressed some of the issues and began systematic coaching and personal training where needed. The results the first year were very good. Improved sales and profitability through enhanced teamwork and better communication.

Year 2 we did another survey and again implemented the suggestions, which included an Intentional Corporate Culture Development and an Incentive program. We did this simultaneously and the results were amazing. Yes, sales increased as did profitability. So much so that every associate met their minimum for a bonus. It was quite moving. Mostly, however, all agreed that what we are building is special something very special beyond wages and benefits.

This year, year 3, we did another survey and there are still areas to address, which we are in the process of implementing. Prediction: Even better!