6 Ways to Sustain a Top Workplace for the Long Haul

How can employee engagement help your organization to maintain Top Workplaces status over time? We asked the leader of a company who knows.

top workplace

John Yanak is managing partner of Grossman Yanak & Ford, a certified public accounting and consulting firm that’s been a Top Workplace in Pittsburgh for a decade. Yanak, who cofounded the firm 30 years ago, shared what he considers to be some key contributors to the company’s performance and high level of employee engagement.

1. Lead by example

Yanak has always believed in leading by example, especially when it comes to focusing on quality client services. “We have to do a quality job for our clients,” he said. “I think it’s really from top to bottom, our employees can see we are engaged. The partners are not just a name on the sign. When they see that, they are going to buy in and be engaged.”

2. Show appreciation

Yanak pointed out that appreciation is personal and cultural—and both are important. Millennials, in particular, want more feedback about their work. They welcome positive feedback and constructive criticism. “It takes an effort to do that,” Yanak said. 

3. Value flexibility

His company has many part-time employees, including managers. The company understands when employees want to start a family, or go to grad school, or want to teach. Employees rate the company high on flexibility. “We feel that it’s in our interest and in the employees’ interest to be flexible,” Yanak said. “Our philosophy is that, essentially, by being flexible, we’re going to retain our employees on a longer-term basis.” 

4. Consider compensation

His firm closely examines compensation to stay competitive, and it also is a bit unusual in the industry because it pays overtime. Still, the company is mindful that some employees don’t want to be burdened by extra hours. So, the company works hard to find the right balance for staffing levels. “They may not be as interested in working the extra hours and having the extra money,” Yanak said.

5. Help people reach full potential

The firm values training, responsibility, and opportunity. Its survey results show high scores from employees who feel they are enabled to work at their full potential. Yanak said the company encourages increased responsibility and allows people to move to different positions within the company. “Sometimes for us, it’s a pain to do that. But if you take a longer-term focus on that, and you don’t want to lose that person, why wouldn’t we do that?”

6. Measure and react

Employee survey results have helped him make better decisions as a leader. The company shares survey results at partner meetings and gives feedback to managers. “We do get good feedback that either corroborates other information we have or shows us some things we want to focus on in the coming year to improve. We’ve made improvements over time, and I think the employees see we are focusing on that.”

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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