GLASSDOOR NAMES US THE BEST MEDIUM-SIZED COMPANY TO WORK FOR IN THE US (AGAIN!)

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Have you heard the exciting news? Glassdoor has named us the #1 company to work for in America – for the second year in a row! Out of more than 125,000 companies eligible to win, The Motley Fool was ranked highest by those who know best – our Foolish employees.

Winners were determined based entirely on accurate and approved company reviews submitted to Glassdoor between November 13, 2013 and November 2, 2014. All of the reviews remain absolutely anonymous, and The Motley Fool took the top spot on the list for companies with fewer than 1,000 employees.

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What makes a company the best place to work? Besides a motivating company mission, employee engagement and workplace culture are also major factors. Head People Fool Lee Burbage adds,”We don’t believe perks drive our employee engagement, but feeling like your leadership team cares about you and what you want or need to be happy does drive engagement.” Our CEO Tom Gardner and a few other Fools share more in this exciting video:

 

Thanks to Fools near and far that contributed to our success. Fool On!

Coffee Brews Conversation

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I hear a lot of chatter about coffee at FoolHQ, but the buzz doesn’t always revolve around the need for caffeine. As an opportunity to connect, Fools are encouraged to request Starbucks gift cards sponsored by The Motley Fool. In return, Fools must treat a fellow coworker – ideally one they don’t know well – to a drink. Though there’s definitely a monthly card limit, some Fools don’t mind to fund Starbucks runs on their own dime every once in a while. You could say that coffee meetings are a popular part of our culture, to say the least.

Our CEO Tom Gardner envisions more to this benefit than just a free soy latte. Introducing the idea at a company-wide huddle last year, Tom encouraged using the cards as a chance to learn about others’ projects; identify best practices Fools use; and collaborate on challenges or ideas. Fool Amy Dykstra approximates that she hands out around 10 gift cards per month.

Jerry Seinfeld also recognizes room for great communication in a cup of coffee. In fact, it’s the focus of his successful Emmy-nominated web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld explains, “…why it’s great to meet someone for a cup of coffee — the ease, the simplicity, the compactness. And that it also obviously gets people talking. You have coffee and for some reason it makes you talk a lot.” Whether or not you order coffee, tea, or a glass of water, it’s the conversation that counts.

While Jerry Seinfeld hosts his guests in cars, Tom and David Gardner hold a monthly event at FoolHQ called “New Fool Coffees.” Spending an hour together with our founders, recent hires are able to learn more about our company and ask tons of questions. Conversations can travel anywhere from Tom’s favorite drink to what inspired his team’s latest stock pick. Starbucks – or FoolHQ conference rooms – are hot spots for Fools, but the location shouldn’t stop you from incorporating this idea into your company’s culture. And it doesn’t even have to be about a coffee drink, either. Simply encourage employees to leave their desks, welcoming the idea that a fresh environment can inspire new and valuable thoughts.

Engaging others through stimulating conversation – caffeinated or not – is important. A quick sit down can allow for new concepts to brew and employees to mesh together, both of which will benefit your organization. Steven Johnson reinforces, “We take ideas from other people, from people we’ve learned from, from people we run into in the coffee shop, and we stitch them together into new forms and we create something new. That’s really where innovation happens.”

Why Companies Shouldn’t Limit Sick Days

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Here’s a simple idea from our CEO Tom Gardner: Stop providing limited sick days for your employees. It’s flu season, so Tom’s thoughts are all the more relevant – and urgent – now.

Match our yearlong approach at The Motley Fool: if an employee is feeling sick, tell them to please stay home. It seems like common sense, but Tom outlines four reasons why an unlimited sick policy is worth it in case you’re on the fence:

  1. Protect Your People.
  2. Extend Trust.
  3. Review Your Purpose.
  4. Manage to High Performance.

Instead of the flu, make freedom and trust contagious at your organization. To read more on Tom’s points, view his latest LinkedIn Influencer post here. And don’t be afraid to forward this information along to your CEO or Head of HR! Allowing employees to stay home when they’re ill will ultimately make your organization stronger – and much healthier.

Fool Speaker Series: Chris Guillebeau

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It took 11 years for Chris Guillebeau to complete his quest of visiting every country in the world. This staggering journey – which he viewed in the beginning as “really difficult but not fundamentally impossible,” led Chris to all 193 countries. The first 100 countries he visited – not counting layovers, by the way – cost $30,000. Though there was certainly a financial element involved, Chris prioritized his travels and reached this incredible goal by his 35th birthday.

Chris met an amazing community of people and gathered a treasure trove of stories, many of which are shared in his latest New York Times bestseller The Happiness of Pursuit. He features the quests of people like Lisa – the youngest person to circumnavigate the world by sailboat at age 16 – to a man who pursued a 17 year vow of silence. Check out what you can take from Chris – including his top pick for travel destination – in 60 seconds or less below!

*This post’s image was taken from Chris Guillebeau’s blog, The Art of Non-Conformity

PYOD: What’s That Mean?

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By Marshall Mabie

A few years ago, my then-boss Jeff was reviewing our IT team’s procedures for upgrading our users’ equipment. Traditionally, we would research the latest technology available, select the set-up that provided the most solutions for the largest numbers of our user base, and deploy a standard computer to Fools.

There was not a lot of initial personalization, which ended up causing a lot of later personalization after the machine was already in the user’s hands, which cost them time, and therefore money. Further, and more importantly, we weren’t serving our individual users’ needs as well as we could – they weren’t always empowered to use the technology that most helped them do what they want to do.

With that in mind, Jeff considered the possibilities, and decided to embrace a relatively new solution – Pick Your Own Device, or, as we call it, PYOD.

Instead of selecting a standard technology package and customizing it later, what if we treated every case as an individual, unique configuration? Moreover, what if we worked with each Fool individually to find the best technology tools for them? As a Windows-using office, what if Fools could use Apple products if they wanted to?

PYOD was born. Budgets were drawn up. Lists of test groups were created. Then Wave One of test groups. Then Wave Two. All in all, the first year of PYOD, we worked with 100 Fools to select their individually-tailored computers and tablets. We’re currently working with the next 100 Fools. Next year? Yup, 100 more Fools, ensuring the entire company will have new machines every three years.

It was a hit. And still is.

Fools have strong input as to what choices they have to do their work the best way possible, and we get a chance to sit down with the people we support and learn more about their jobs, how they do them, and how we can help them to do even better.

It also has provided our team with an opportunity for not just a deep knowledge-base about the technology our company uses, but also has allowed us to broaden our knowledge-base. No longer do we service only Mac or Windows machines; we work with both, providing us lots of opportunity to learn.

It’s an ongoing process that we refine and change as necessary, but at the heart of it, nothing has changed. Fools get a choice in selecting them to help them work the way they want to work. Our customers are served better, our company is served better, and that’s a win-win.

Does Your Company Host Health Fairs? They Should.

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Over the past few years, the drive to improve Fools’ overall health has become a top priority. In fact, I’d argue that “Health” could rightfully be added to our list of core values. The benefits behind employees’ positive mental and physical well-being are endless, not just in the office but outside, too. We’ve been fortunate enough to employ a full-time “Wellness Fool” since 2010. These folks have inspired even the unhealthiest of our employees to make smarter, better choices, with several success stories to prove their impact.

One of our most-popular fitness-related benefits is our annual health fair…and it’s quickly approaching again. Health fairs have been described as effective ways “to provide valuable health information and screening services to large numbers of employees in a convenient ‘one-stop shop’ format.” This year, Wellness Fool Sam Whiteside hopes to take our wellness fair to a new level, incorporating not only flu shots and biometrics, but also massage therapy; athletic shoe fittings and running analyses; discounted gym memberships; healthy food samples; acupuncture; fitness demonstrations; and a blood donation van.

Though everything at our wellness fair will be optional, participation is always highly encouraged. It was reported in 2013 that only 43% of American organizations hold health fairs and 50% offer screenings. These statistics should be much higher, but it’s never too late to invest in your employees’ health. Whether you want a downsized wellness fair or a huge function, aim to begin the planning process at least four months in advance. These events usually happen during the fall when flu season begins to creep into the picture. Take the first step by talking to your Human Resources manager, and your organization’s health insurance providers, to locate vendor options. And if you choose to offer them, it’s necessary to reach out to the appropriate professionals while flu shots are still available. At a glance, 61% of companies in the US offer on-site flu shots.

Employer-sponsored health days can be life-changing. Just last year, Amy Robach of ABC News agreed to have the first ever live television mammogram for Good Morning America. Robach had delayed her annual mammogram for more than a year and, a week after the live event, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Even her doctors admitted that the mammogram had saved her life.

If your company doesn’t put employee health on a pedestal, maybe they should. It’s definitely worth the research. A healthy employee is a happier one, and who knows – an event like a health fair could possibly even change a life.

Rewarding Your Employees: Try This New Method

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Earning recognition for a job well done can give any employee a shot in the arm. When a boss or colleague shows appreciation, it ignites the drive and motivation for continued success. On a broader level, there’s believed to be a strong correlation between company reward programs and employee engagement.
 
Creating a fully engaged work environment is what every organization should aspire to achieve, but evidence suggests many workplaces are lacking en engaged employees. Gallup’s Global Workplace Report defines engaged employees as “psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.” These employees drive innovation and company growth, plus it’s no surprise that they’re considered to be the best colleagues. Problem is, only 30% of the working population in the United States meets that threshold.
 
Over the past year, we’ve implemented a new employee-recognition program to boost our engagement levels. We started using a company called YouEarnedIt that provides a software platform for peer-to-peer gratitude. Our “Fools” can reward their co-workers with “Gold” for any action they feel worthy – helping with projects, hitting a major deadline, etc. Earned gold can be redeemed in a catalog of prizes that span from gift cards to cooking classes and travel experiences.
 
Kara Chambers, one of our People Strategy Fools, is a strong advocate of employee recognition in the workplace and has been pleased with how “Giving Gold” has caught on at the company. In addition, she likes that YouEarnedIt’s live feed allows employees to read all posted compliments. Kara believes the feed increases companywide communication about what projects Fools are completing. 
 
Being acknowledged in front of your entire company is awesome, but more research shows that the smaller, daily recognitions can also lead to deeper employee engagement. Each month, a small group of Fools are selected to attend an offsite event, whether it’s a soccer match or fun concert. An exclusive outing makes the reward even more special, and there’s a strong sense of collaboration in bringing different Fools together.
 
Trust us: rewarding your employees is a good idea. The success of your organization greatly depends on positive employee performance. Whether it’s a verbal compliment in passing or implementing an advanced tool like YouEarnedIt, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at the benefits of employee rewards.

You Don’t Have to Hate Your Job (Really!)

Employee Engagement

Employee EngagementBy Laurie Street

The Motley Fool isn’t the only company that has built a fantastic culture, but sadly there aren’t enough of us. Countless studies show that employees are lacking engaging and healthy work environments. An interesting New York Times piece, Why You Hate Work, digs deeper into these disadvantages, mentioning faults that stem from the rise in digital technology, increased competitiveness, and our post-recession economy.

Author Tony Schwartz argues simple solutions that, if introduced, could make a huge difference in corporate environments. His suggestions ring true during a time when workplaces actually have the opportunity to evolve. It’s not necessarily a world of suits, ties, and strict regulations anymore.

In Schwartz’s opinion, companies should measure employees not hourly but by the value that they create. He explains, “To the extent possible, let them decide where to do their work, and when to do it, as long as they meet deadlines.” Trust is a huge component, and The Fool’s flexible scheduling speaks to Schwartz’s point. We throw traditional 9-5 calendars to the wind by allowing our employees to manage their own time. With this flexibility comes the expectation that employees are striving to produce their highest quality of work. Because everyone has different work styles, we also offer quiet spaces that offer a break from our open office, as well as the tools to work from home.

We believe in transparency, a point that Schwartz addresses in his column. He notes, “…seek to define all jobs in ways that feel meaningful and significant to people.” Fools are encouraged to establish honest relationships with their managers, making it easy to communicate about goals, projects, and ideas. If a Fool isn’t happy, our People Team wants to help. We organize feedback sessions to connect with Fools about their job path and progress, and recently implemented an internal reward service that allows Fools to publicly recognize others with “gold” for a job well done. Gold can be spent on gift cards for a variety of stores, and the entire process makes receiving Fools feel happy and valued.

However, it’s an unfortunate fact that all workplaces can’t — or will not try — to implement a progressive culture for employees. In addition to cynicism and anger, decreased energy is a common symptom of workplace unhappiness. To combat these signs, Schwartz suggests using 15-25 minutes for rest or an outdoor walk to increase productivity and alertness. The warmer weather has inspired a Fool Walking Group, which takes 30-minute outdoor strolls twice a week. We also have the Reading Room, a quiet space for better concentration that doubles as a place to take a power nap. Our culture encourages Fools to be comfortable enough to always take the necessary time for rest.

Schwartz’s article is one of many that shows how corporate cultures are changing. The Fool is on top of preserving Foolishness, from showing appreciation to our employees to trying out new, fun ideas in the office. Hating your job is the last thing The Fool would ever want, and we’re constantly on the search for ways to top the happiness scale.