BIG IDEAS FROM A SMALL STATE
The co-authors of The Employee Satisfaction Revolution cleverly tie together the lessons taught in one business school program with the stunning successes of a single business, which profited and grew when those lessons were put into practice. This book by Goldey-Beacom College Professor Patricia Buhler, Ph.D. and Prestwick House CEO Jason Scott makes a clear connection between smart ideas and profitable actions.
Buhler has been teaching management at the Wilmington, Del.-based Goldey-Beacom College for more than 20 years. A decade ago, she met Jason Scott, an MBA candidate who was looking for better ways to lead his father's publishing company, Prestwick House, into the 21st century. After earning his MBA from Goldey-Beacom, he applied many of the lessons in human-resources management that he learned there into real-world successes. While moving from operations manager to CEO, he helped his company grow from a $1 million company to a company with more than $8 million in annual revenue. In 2008, Prestwick House was named the fourth-best publishing company in the United States to work for by Book Business Magazine.
The Best Place to Work in the StateOne of the goals Scott set for Prestwick House was to become widely recognized as the best place to work in the company's home state of Delaware. In The Employee Satisfaction Revolution, he describes how this aspiration was turned into positive growth when his company began to invest in its employee's satisfaction. This strategy was set in place by giving everyone within the company a thorough understanding of the company's strategic goals. The company's leaders then gave employees the tools they needed to reach those goals. One tool was a highly flexible workplace that allowed employees to manage themselves as much as possible within a high-accountability framework.
By using a common-sense approach that aimed to help customers reach their goals while creating satisfying work for employees, Prestwick House designed a system that encouraged employees "to feel that they are not simply doing a job, but that they are also helping to build a company," Scott explains. He adds that most people find this type of perspective on their job very rewarding.
On the academic side of the equation, Buhler presents an organizational culture model that describes a series of "levers" organizations can use to create greater employee satisfaction. That model, which works toward creating greater financial rewards, is built on a foundation that includes a variety of leadership, organizational culture and human resources strategies. The leadership lever of her model is based on appropriate strategic planning.
TransparencyThe high employee satisfaction culture that the company achieved, Scott writes, came about because transparency went deeper than open communication: It involved opening the company's financial records to the employees so they could see both income and expenses. Although payroll was kept private, Scott writes, the company opened all general ledger accounts, including rent and other expenditures, to everyone in the company. This way, they could see how much money was going to be available for their bonuses.
When Buhler writes about the importance of creating a company culture where employees are self-motivated, Scott backs up her research on the subject with his company's real-world experiences. While describing how he created more empowerment and innovation at Prestwick House, he explains that making sure all employees understand the company's goals, and their responsibilities in meeting those goals, helped him create self-motivated employees in his company. He points out that making each job rewarding and satisfying -- and hiring and placing the right people into those jobs -- helped him create satisfied employees who do quality work even when they are not being supervised by managers.
Throughout The Employee Satisfaction Revolution, the authors describe a complete formula for creating a people-centered culture that helps employees feel good about their work while improving the company's bottom line.
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