In Ten Words

15 Jun

At a recent Best-Places-to-Work award event each employer who was recognized for their exceptional level of employee engagement was given very specific instructions on what to say in their acceptance speech. As they came to the podium to receive their award they were each asked to respond to the following: “In ten words or less, describe why your company is a great place to work.”

Here are a few of the responses (not all in the ten word limit), but worth examining:

  • “Passionate, zany culture with remarkable service.”
  • “Great people who love brutally competitive athletic competitions.”
  • “Hire passionate people and unleash them.”
  • “Mission made possible by exceptional people.”
  • “Corporate social responsibility is alive and well.”
  • “Challenge each of our partners to the best every day.”
  • “Our team gets to live summer camp every day.”
  • “We exist to build great things through great people.”
  • “We’re 100% employee owned and don’t work for a rich guy.”
  • “Fun loving people with great interest rates. Call us!”
  • “An environment for great people to become exceptional.”
  • “Care for employees. They care for customers. The rest takes care of itself.”
  • “It’s an honor to serve our customers.”
  • “Golden Age of biology. What could be more exciting?”
  • “It’s easy to love your job when you get to help patients and do it in jeans.”

Mind you, these were all given impromptu, but they show a passion and care for their employees. The most applause went to the financial services firm who ended their statement with “call us”. Clever, but indicative of their culture.

You’ll also note they’re different. They don’t all focus on the same thing, which fits with what we see in the most engaging employers, those who take the building blocks of great workplaces and add their unique “spin”. We call this evolution turning “employee engagement universal drivers into signature drivers.” The great cultures we’ve studied have many elements in common, but they’re able to forge those elements into something that fits who they are. In doing so their culture is more bullet-proof, one that can withstand the elements.

How would you, in ten words or less, describe why your company is a great place to work? I’ve used this question in workshops and conferences since then, and I highly recommend you start asking it where you work:

  • Try it at a staff meeting.
  • Talk to the human resources recruiters who are out in the market and see what they’re saying to prospective employees.
  • Take a few minutes at a senior leadership meeting and see what kind of discussion you have.
  • Ask a few valued customers.

This exercise might sound straightforward, but don’t let its simplicity fool you. I’m guessing it might create worthwhile dialog. You might note, for example, that some of your associates have trouble coming up with any description about why you’re a great place to work-might that be a problem? Or how would you feel if you did this with a group of your leaders and they couldn’t agree with what makes this a great workplace-that’s a problem too, right?

I think companies with highly engaged workplaces do a lot of things right, and one of the outcomes of their efforts is they have a language about people stuff. It’s a language that aligns them. It’s a language that makes talking about certain things much easier.

Ten words to describe why you’re a great place to work. Try it.

3 Responses to “In Ten Words”

  1. Rich DiGirolamo May 23, 2010 at 6:42 am #

    Excellent article and exercise. I use something very similar with my clients and the dialog that it creates fascinates me.

  2. David Zinger May 23, 2010 at 7:19 am #


    I like the 6 word or 10 word story. I have used it over the years and found it gives focus and anyone can listen to a 6 word story. I loved Hemingway, who said a story could be 6 words. His story: For sale, baby clothes, never used.

  3. markhirschfeld May 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Rich and David, glad to see other folks have found this exercise useful. Continued best wishes, Mark

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