For many years, I have been hired to work with many great companies in their training and convention efforts. Analytical Graphics, Inc was one of the most memorable ever.
Recently, I conducted a sales presentation skills training for AGI, the Best Small Company to Work in America! (According to the Great Place to Work Institute and Society for Human Resource Management.) What a great environment! Perhaps you can adopt some of what AGI does in your company to add to your productivity and morale.
I wish you could have been there at lunchtime! Wow! Over the years I have eaten in quite a few employee cafeterias while training and coaching at client locations. However, I can honest say, I have NEVER had such great food in any company. Everyday, in the delightful employee dining room, all employees are welcome to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner…FREE! The chef and owner of the company, who provides the food, was telling me he has been providing the catering since beginning the company, which only had 30 employees. He changes the menu daily so nobody will get bored, and he enjoys the creative challenge.
After AGI was given the award a writer who was trying to take a negative slant on the company said to President Paul Graziani, “You only feed them to keep them here.” “No,” he replied, “They are always here…so we feed them.” She insisted she would only write the article if she could walk around by herself and talk to anyone she wanted to. At the end, she was converted! Everyone agreed, it is a great place to work. She naturally asked, “With all these benefits, you must have lower salaries?” “No.”
My four-hour sales seminar was to yes…real life rocket scientists! AGI’s amazing technology is used by the Intelligence Community and NASA. Analysis software for land, sea, air, and space. I hate the expression, but must say….it was “way cool!”
I walked over to the most state of the art conference room I have ever seen to deliver an hour talk for a women’s group. Naturally, in this environment there are a lower percentage of women, and yes, I met two female rocket scientists. They meet and have speakers and discussions of interest to the women. “Everyone is welcome,” said Lisa Velte, Director of Human Resources, “including the men. In fact many of them attended when the subject was financial planning.”
As the hour was stretching into 70 minutes (you know Fripp with a receptive audience, I did not want to leave!) I was concerned perhaps some may be late for work. “We treat everyone as adults, and they get their work done. We realize at AGI that creativity is not just from 9-5. In fact, people come to work when it is best for them to be productive. We have a few who do not come in until 2pm, and they are there at 11pm.”
Now I understood why dinner is served!
On a tour of the facilitates I saw their world-class gym, open 24-hours-a-day, and the laundry room where busy employees can bring in their laundry. Naturally, the company pays for all supplies.
They do not have a formal day care program. However, in school holidays and those “not quite well enough to go to school days,” there is a wonderful play room for kids of all ages. Like the laundry room this is monitored by the employees using them.
The engineers are in Heaven! There are two creative round rooms to relax and brainstorm, and yes, the walls are whiteboards and they can draw all over them.
I have never seen, or heard of, a “Virtual Water Fountain.” Not only can you see and talk to employees in the kitchen areas on each level but also in the kitchens in other locations and field offices. “This makes everyone in the field office feel part of headquarters,” said Lisa.
“One of the reasons I was excited to work here,” she said, “Is our President Paul. He believes in the open office layout.” As we turned a corner, there he was, in an office with no walls at all. Totally approachable.
I know what you are thinking…we have to cut all the frills out of our budgets. Organizations like AGI have to be concerned with the bottom line like every other company. Perhaps they realize that happy, appreciated, well-fed associates and rocket scientists thrive and are more creative. Hope you will join me and make a commitment to add to the enjoyment and creativity of everyone we work with!