Power Of Being A Team
By Andy Cohen

The leaders of companies on the Best Places to Work list know one thing more than any other: Their employees need to feel connected to something bigger than just their day-to-day jobs. To ensure this, they foster teamwork, share company goals and communicate with employees as much as humanly possible. Plus, they give staffers the ability to influence the company’s overall decisions.

It’s an approach that Metromedia Marketing (asi/268940), the number 14 company on the Best Places to Work list, definitely espouses. The distributor splits its more than 20 employees into committees that brainstorm ideas for corporate charities, fun activities, client events, and even a shopping club to source new items for the company’s salespeople to use as self-promotions. But the connection to the company for employees goes even further: Once a year, Metromedia hosts a weekend retreat for all of its employees and their spouses – it’s a time for celebration, learning and building on team spirit.

“Our company has a great culture; everyone comes to work with a smile and is happy to see their ‘second family,’” says Laura Banyai, who holds the title of Customer Exhilaration Officer for Metromedia. “Employees enjoy coming to work because they know it is a place they feel comfortable and is filled with people who make professional and personal connections.”

Employees also like coming to work when they know they have the respect and attention of management. Supplier Royal Crest Promotions (asi/83740), number five on the Best Places to Work list, makes sure that its employees know they are empowered to make decisions. The key is that staffers know that management trusts their decisions and wants them to take ownership of their specific parts of the business. “The thinking process behind this management style is that it eliminates the need to micromanage people to keep departments functioning,” says Traci Pegg, marketing representative for Royal Crest. “Management would rather spend time exploring other opportunities and goals. In this company, every person has the desire to continue to add value and contribute.”

To help foster that kind of environment, some companies on the Best Places to Work list, like Gifts By Design (asi/205947), number eight, even bring in outside consultants. The Seattle-based distributor hired a consultant recently to improve communication at the company. The consultant led a variety of exercises designed to identify any communication issues, and then provided tools to help staffers work through any challenges.

“This had a huge effect on the staff and it really increased the trust level, and helped us all feel even better about our workplace,” says Jamie Stone, owner of Gifts By Design. “It also seemed to have a direct effect on our bottom line, as our sales went up the following months. Every employee here has a voice, and knows that their opinion and their ideas matter. This gives people a lot of power and control over their work lives.”

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