The Great Workplace 2.0: What It Is — an Introduction to the Future of Profit
By Admin

January 17, 2011

The Great Workplace 2.0 (TM): It is all about our trademarked phrase: Connect, Engage, Collaborate.

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Understanding what the next generation of NEW Great Workplaces have as core characteristics can propel your organization to greatness (Or being recognized as “Remarkable”) or leading a company toward a ride on the proverbial “slippery slope” of being forgotten or being in constant turmoil.

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The very nature of WORK, who does it, where, why and with whom has changed dramatically and forever.  It is in part, a result of the changing nature of those who do the work, why they do it, and from where they do it.

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The “Social Contract” between employers and those who do the work has been forcibly and irrevocably transformed. The “workplace” is no longer simply hired Employees, “Employer”…and then everyone else.

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Astute organizations have also discovered remarkable value in “non-employee participants”, whom historically, have been considered only necessary intrusions on the path to profitability. As quickly as larger organizations have discovered how to maintain vendors and suppliers at arm’s length, the smaller organization has discovered those same intrusions as invaluable collaborators in the success of their organization.

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Today, work resists being defined within a specific space of a legacy corporate structure. And that has dramatically changed the way participants (and executives) look at Great Places to Work, and in turn Great Workplaces.

A Great Workplace functions at a higher level of purpose and productivity and is a more interesting place to work than other organizations. It attracts great talent and it attracts great results…for the customer. It extends its intelligent self-interests beyond the executive suite into the depths of its own employment, into the rich treasure troves of vendor knowledge, the community and to all Participants. It reaches out to the crowd within its community for opportunities and solutions.

The Great Workplace 2.0 understands intrinsically that being “open” is an advantage. When it reaches out, it extends its hand in a positive manner both internally and externally looking for strengths and sustainable principles on which to further grow the business and the opportunities for participants. It simply does not adhere to the old model of corporate hierarchy, held power and confined ideas. The Great Workplace of today invites being benchmarked, but is always one step beyond being so static that its definitions have become fluid.

The Great Workplace 2.0 is in fact a fluid community. It interacts with its participants and creates communication avenues that foster the immediate interaction of questions, ideas, opinions and therefore opportunities and solutions. It has substantially removed the obstacles to Open Innovation and discouraged most linear or legacy ideals. It uses knowledge gained through more “open-invitation” processes and feeds upon the rich knowledge and input from all sources that touch the organization.

It is both created on and by purpose and has the ability to change its tactical or strategic directions quickly.

The corporate legacy model focused upon impressive-sounding “Mission Statements” and “shareholder return” (regardless of what that meant). In many circumstances, businesses were operated not because they really wanted to, but because they “should”. They sustained themselves because there were stock certificates and legacies to support.

That old model of success was built upon relative size and the ability to do things for ITSELF on a grand scale: benefits, bonuses, unions, giveaways, charitable donations, dividends and having employees see their company in print or in TV ads. If you work for Shell Oil or for General Motors you must work for a great company. We feted big companies as “great” workplaces because they flowed forth with great benefits, nominally gave away their services as charity and in general treated employees as cats in Pharaoh’s chambers. Just the mention of “I work for National City Bank” meant something impressive. It was akin to saying that you attended Notre Dame while the Fighting Irish were a national football powerhouse.  The “aura” was the value. The old model created strong Tribes and the reputation of that Tribe became the recipient of all things corporate.

But while employers reveled in being big and powerful, the very nature of work was changing and the values of its output were changing with it.

The focus, in a highly productive company, shifted to PURPOSE: both from an individual point of view and a corporate directive.

Walls and structures are coming down or are being made visible. Old lines of communications (Such as “Command and Control”) have been jettisoned and the concept of “New Ideas” is no longer just defined as internal. “Teamwork” is now more important than ever, but only when it has “Collaboration” at its foundation. “Teamwork” can be interpreted as a group of similarly trained or deployed people working for a single mission (Basketball Players: A linear orientation). “Collaboration” is geared toward having disparate talents working for a single outcome (even from different geographies), through different purposes (ex: the entire organization including the players: Non-linear input).

The core issue may be that we are still celebrating and making plans around the old model of great workplaces while the revolution representing what makes a Great Workplace / Great Place to Work has been quietly stealing our best people, their minds and talents, and vendors, just like John Galt in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

The purpose of The Great Workplace 2.0 ™ is simple: Change the way organizations look at creating a Great Workplace

The Fundamental Benchmarked Attributes of The Great Workplace 2.0:

Before we dive into each attribute, it needs to be noted that to be a Great Workplace/ Place to Work, an organization does NOT have to have each characteristic at equal levels. Based upon the nature of the organization, the products or services it offers, and the reason for the organization’s existence, the levels of these attributes can be different from one organization to another. Each attribute has deep explanatory sections to it, to further emphasize the Why and How. In the end, it may seem that there are at least 50 components to The Great Workplace 2.0, but our focus will be on the few that make the majority of the difference.

We have looked at the fundamental components of The Great Workplace as “Acquirable and Repeatable”: Principles and actions that can be built into a new company or that can be achieved by an existing company.

1)    The organization has a meaningful “Corporate Statement Of Purpose” that is the foundation for corporate culture and therefore provides meaning to employment and work opportunities. This statement is driven by the affects the organization has on their customers and the role each “Participant” can play in that directive. “Purpose” becomes an ethos that creates the very foundation for The Great Workplace.

2)    A Great Workplace is committed to fostering a collaborative, productive, engaging and rewarding culture that encompasses customers, prospective employees, employees, vendors, “Participants” (Stake/ Shareholders) and the community. The organization practices collaboration to the extent that “Internal and External” no longer have a distinction, and it recognizes that “Community” has no true boundaries.

3)    The Great Workplace 2.0 does not reach its ultimate definition by the use of physical or conceptual “Walls”. At the core of change from the Legacy workplace to the new, has been the idea that “The very nature of work, who does it (Participant), why they do it (Purpose versus Mission), and from where they do it. The social contract between employers and those who do the work has been forcibly and irrevocably transformed. The workplace is no longer simply hired Employees, Employer … and then everyone else”. The Great Workplaces of today and the future have embraced the notion that “Participant Assets” and the quality of those define the organization’s ability to achieve their Purpose, not geography, badges or even the employee numbers.

4)    The organization provides for enterprise sustainability as part of their core culture and is committed to educating the employee body, vendors, participants, customers and the community about their practices. “Sustainability” is defined in flexible terms for Ecology, Environment, Volunteerism, and Civic Engagement/ Charitable Offerings with the Community, Reputation, and Internships from the Community and Product Impact to future generations

5)    The Great Workplace has an operating plan to integrate Jobs, Careers, Participants and the Community in their (Organizational and Individual) pursuit of accomplishing their purpose. Intent or statements are not enough. This operating plan embraces the strategy and tactics of “Purposeful Convergence of Knowledge” where technology is employed, not for the sake of technology (which becomes a distraction) but for the customer, and where obstacles to the purpose can be eliminated or minimized.

6)     The organization has a financial focus on being “Intelligently Profitable”. This qualitative focus is founded in sustainability, the Values within their purpose and a view of “Intelligent Self Interest” for the organization and all participants. “Intelligent Self Interest” is defined as Self Interest that stands the test of “how will my plan affect others?” It defines who the customer REALLY is.

7)    The organization provides a sensible and tuned foundation of health and welfare benefits so that all employees can focus on their job purpose.

8)    The organization has a working plan for Immersion (onboarding) of all Participants: (new employees, contractors, VENDORS, promotions, teams/ groups, community, board, executives, consultants and families). The purpose of this working structure is to reduce the time to productivity and to facilitate the complete engagement of the Participant throughout that participant’s “lifecycle”.

9)    The organization provides the Tools for all Participants to properly execute their responsibilities relative to their assignments and the organization’s Purpose.

10) The organization emphasizes buying locally and promotes its region as a great place to live and work.

11) (Top) Management shows and invokes visible, tangible leadership that directly supports the organization’s Statement of Purpose and operating plan. This leadership preserves the integrity of the organization’s purpose, and is both duplicatable and repeatable…at any level.

12) The organization practices Transparent Integrity.

The ability of an organization to be “Great” should never rely solely upon being “Big” (Cashflow) or Rich. “Great” is a value, and VALUES can never be bought.

Jim Collins in “Built To Last” defines it this way: “It is dedicated to the idea that true greatness comes in direct proportion to the passionate pursuit of a purpose beyond money”.

One thing that all The Great Workplace 2.0 organizations have in common is this: They are in fact remarkable…worthy, noticeable and unique. Not because they have excessive benefits or bonuses or on-site daycare, or a slide that takes you to the ground floor, but because the entire organization has a purpose that is built around an ideal. And that ideal is for the customer.

The above definitions are only a part of an introduction to the entire research results for what makes The Great Workplace of today and tomorrow. The Great Workplace 2.0 is NOT static. It is updated and changed on a regular basis as we discover other fundamentals that are forming the benchmarks of success. We invite your comments and insights, directly to the author.

The Great Workplace 2.0 ™ is an ongoing research project sponsored by Champion Personnel System, Inc, A Job Near  and Work Is Good ®, Inc. All content, ideas and concepts © 2010 A Job Near Home™, The Great Workplace™, Work Is Good ®. For more information: Robert Schepens; 216.823.5900., Mr. Schepens is an unusually accomplished employment and business authority with over 30 years experience in Human Resources, Talent Acquisition and Entrepreneurship. He owns several award-winning companies and is co-author of the book: “The 9 Principles for Inspired Action”.