Is your workplace taking these steps toward improvement?

The best workplaces always look to improve. It’s a journey, not a destination. Even top-ranked companies will find things to work on in a process of continuous improvement.

Is your workplace making improvements

To do that, employers need to know the differentiators that fuel success. Here are eight to consider:

Formalize your efforts: High-performing organizations put employees central to the company's success. They embrace a process for improving their culture. This starts with assessing what’s happening. Once leadership has data, they can collaborate with employees to discuss the findings and consider ideas for improvement.  This builds a sense of commitment and accountability to improvement.

Not all retention is created equal: Top Workplaces know how to keep good talent. Retention is a key differentiator -- as long as you also maintain a high bar for performance. Top Workplaces expect more from their employees. They create an exceptional environment, and there is a “ticket to entry” ─ a minimum expected level of performance ─ for anyone who wants to join them.

Be picky when hiring: Top Workplaces know the key is bringing aboard people who share their values, who fit within the carefully fostered culture. That’s just as important as skills and potential.

Pay attention to onboarding: Once someone comes aboard, onboarding should focus on key objectives: creating a great first impression, setting up the new arrival for success, and laying the groundwork for high productivity.   Senior leaders should welcome each new member of the team. This small investment makes an impact on new employees and keep leaders in the loop on who is joining the team.

Know what drives performance: Listening to employees and acting on feedback is the best way to create the right environment and provide the right support. Energage research shows the key factors that influence high performance are appreciation, direction, meaningfulness and leadership. People thrive in work environments where those factors are well-executed.

Keep on communicating: Employees want to feel well-informed. Organizations that fail to communicate with staff on a regular basis, substantively, will leave an information void. That gap will be filled quickly with rumors and speculation. It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers. Just let people know it.

Continuously listen: Employee survey data can yield plenty of insights. But organizations are dynamic, and things change rapidly.  Maintaining strong vital signs depends on a process of continuous listening. Find a channel for employees to provide input with anonymity. Organizations can dig deeper into problem areas, track the impact of engagement efforts, and identify blind spots.

Don’t benchmark; selfmark: So where is the best place to look for inspiration? Pay less heed to external benchmarks. Instead, invest in identifying barriers to success based on internal benchmarks (or “selfmarks”). Track personal progress. Year-on-year data provides a reliable measure of how far you have come.

These engagement efforts are key to every organization’s operating system. If done right, employees will know their workplace is special. Employers shouldn’t be shy asking for extra effort in return. Ensure staff remains active in the ongoing success of the organization -- with all the necessary accountability. And remember to celebrate along the way.

Doug Claffey is founder and chief strategy officer at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.

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