Ask, then listen – then grow

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Knowing that they are being heard and being seen, and that they can make a difference in their firm, are major sources of employee engagement, but the Best Firms to Work For know that the value runs both ways, with input from staff often offering innovative ideas for moving the business forward.

“Each person … has the ability to provide input to make MGA the best place to work,” says Houston’s Miller Grossbard Advisors. “Our team members are each part of the puzzle here, building something greater than the sum of its parts.”

Input is a great place to start – gathering staff opinions on everything from breakroom snacks and ways to improve tax season to new service offerings and new markets the firm should explore. After-action reports, suggestion boxes, employee surveys, competitions, and staff committees of all shapes and sizes are just some of the more common approaches the Best Firms take to get valuable input from staff.

St. Louis’ Mueller Prost, for instance, hosts an employee competition called “Last Idea Standing,” while in New Jersey, Wilkin & Guttenplan uses a Future Council and Innovation Committees to elicit employee ideas “to help shape ‘their' firm.” And at Maryland’s Santos, Postal & Co., the NextGen Council allows the younger generation “real input into the future of the firm.”

The range of areas staff can be involved in is as wide as management is willing to allow, as Kentucky-based Best Firm Rudler reports: “Groups from each level/year of service are involved in: strategic planning that identified new practice areas, process improvements by sponsored Lean Six Sigma Black Belts, and a Focus Group [that] brings solutions to issues directly to president.”

That last part is crucial – staff ideas must be given a proper hearing at the top levels. The firm doesn’t need to implement every single suggestion, but it does need to give them a due consideration.

“Everyone has a voice,” says Michigan’s Brink, Key & Chludzinski, and then nails the second half of the equation: “If something is important, it will be considered.”

For more ways to become a workplace of choice, visit 20 Days to a Better Firm.

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