READ TIME: 4 minutes.

NASA was just named the Best Place to Work in the Federal Government by the Partnership in Public Service. Bain & Company is the top-ranked 2019 Best Places to Work Employees’ Choice, according to Glassdoor. Great Place to Work announced that Hilton secured the top 2018 Best Workplaces for Diversity spot, as named by employees.

We all want to be the employer where people want to work. It can be alternately inspiring, disheartening and distracting to see other companies named to a Best Places to Work list. Take heart; there’s a list for just about any company. Said another way, there are many ways to be a great employer. It’s more important to be great at the things that matter the most to you. Once you are, it will be easier to recruit, develop and retain the kinds of employees that thrive in your workplace culture and drive success in your organization.

Great Employers Aren’t Great for Everyone

In a recent poll of the top 75 Fortune 500 companies, SurveyMonkey asked 18,000 U.S. adults to list the companies they are most excited to work for – and what they most admired. Not surprisingly different companies topped different categories:

  • Focus on success: Cisco Systems, followed by Intel and Boeing
  • Company stability: Microsoft
  • Diverse workplace: Apple

And the companies were differently rated by different demographics:

  • Women gave high ratings to Disney, Apple, Amazon and GE.
  • Republicans prefer heavy manufacturers and large brands like Boeing, Intel, Lockheed Martin and GE.
  • Democrats are drawn to iconic tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple.
  • Young People want fast-growing, young brands.
  • Baby Boomers tend to like traditional brands.

Bottom Line: A great place to work for one employee is not necessarily a great employer for another individual.

Are You Great at the Things that Matter (to You)?

Ask yourself what you’re already great at – and where you want to become great. Not simply how you want to be known (that comes later). Instead, think about what’s important to your company and what you stand for. Against the backdrop of your organization’s goals and strategy, define the skills, values and behaviors of the people you want to work with day in, day out to achieve success. Take note of your top performers to capture what it is about them that helps them thrive at your company.

RELATED BLOG: Why do Companies Commit to the Greater Good?

Know where your organization fits. Do you strive to be a top employer for companies your size in your industry? In your geography? For military veterans? For millennials? Do you value diversity of cultures? Generational diversity? Are you committed to supporting women in the workplace? Are you a fast-past, fast-growing organization with great career opportunities? Or is yours a stable, established company with a strong and capable management team, solid benefits, and strong learning and development program?

Bottom line: Be sure you are – or are becoming – great at the things that matter the most to you.

Does your Culture Reflect the “Best” of your Organization?

No company is top-rated in every category. But for those areas where companies shine, it’s usually palpable in the workplace culture. Companies that treat employees like family often support fun activities after work and family-oriented celebrations and events. A customer-service-focused culture takes pride in responding to customers quickly and thoroughly; employees are called out and rewarded for exemplary service. Innovative cultures are usually collaborative, intense and results-oriented.

“The Culture Engine” author Chris Edmonds outlines a three-part process for creating a strong company culture:

  • Define the company values and behaviors that reinforce them.
  • Align behaviors with the values. This is where managers become role models, educators, coaches and enforcers to shape behaviors that reinforce the culture.
  • Refine over time, to keep up with company growth and development or to accommodate changes such as a new leader, strategic partnership, merger or acquisition.

RELATED BLOG: How Top Organizations are Building Company Culture for Talent Retention

Review company profiles in some of the “Best Place to Work” lists to see what others are doing well. Learn about the companies who are recognized for the things that matter to you. Look for best practices that align with your company values.

Bottom line: To build a culture that brings out the best in your workforce, define, model and measure the values and behaviors that closely align with your core values.

Do you Develop and Celebrate the Right Things?

Building a great, sustainable culture requires deliberate effort and care. You need to identify, measure, develop and celebrate the elements that make it a success. Ultimately, it’s the behaviors, attitudes and skills – really, workforce competencies – that drive greatness.

Define and build these competencies into your job descriptions, recruitment efforts, learning and development plans, employee recognition programs, performance reviews and succession planning efforts. Look for behavioral, functional and professional competencies that matter.

RELATED BLOG: Building a Positive Company Culture with Competency Management

Is yours a learning culture? Are you committed to promoting women at work? Do you have a strong management team and a desire to promote from within? However you define your greatness, be sure your policies, practices and programs support it. Then, communicate and promote the connections, so every employee, manager, recruiter and customer is aware of them. For example:

  • “Because our company values lifelong learning, we require every employee to spend at least two hours a month in learning experiences. We also offer generous tuition reimbursement and student loan repayment benefits.”
  • “We believe in hiring and promoting women at work, so we offer flextime and job-sharing programs for all. Our woman-to-woman mentor program has garnered recognition for its innovative approach.”
  • “For career-oriented professionals, our company is a great fit. We offer learning plans, career paths and succession management programs that help individuals build the skills, experience and expertise to move up.”

The more you elevate and celebrate the things that make you great, the more those great things take on a life of their own to become a sustainable truth at your organization. Then, hey…if you apply for one of those Best Places to Work lists, you’ll have a chorus of voices and data that can authentically support your claim of greatness.

Bottom line: When you’re great at the things that matter most, be sure every stakeholder knows it. The more it’s evident to all, the more sustainable it becomes.

Any company in any industry can push itself to be great at something important. The Best Places to Work lists are one place to learn what other great companies do – if you don’t get bogged down by the number and breadth of the lists. Just select the best practices that matter most to you.

Are you looking to become a great company? Read our Energize Performance through Competency Management white paper. Or contact us to learn how a competency management system can help advance your greatness initiative.