Entrepreneurial

Top 50 small business workplaces

June 14, 2011

Creating a workplace where employees love to be has been a key factor in the success of Firespring. The Lincoln, Nebraska-based marketing company recently made Inc. magazine and Winning Workplaces’ 2011 Top Small Company Workplaces .

“From the beginning at Firespring, we focused on making sure the employees felt a sense of empowerment and entitlement,” said Jay Wilkinson, CEO of Firespring. “If an employee doesn’t feel like they’re taken care of, then they’re not going to take great care of the customer.”

Besides Firespring, other winners include Cal-Tex Protective Coatings, training company TRX and audio firm Skullcandy. Bob LaPointe, president of Inc. magazine believes it’s important to recognize the commitment of the companies to creating work environments where employees are as important as customers.

“Given their commitment to a higher purpose we felt recognizing these companies for their passion and for how they’re building their companies can be a worthy cause for others to follow as an example.”

Besides empowering employees, exemplary workplaces allow them to make decisions affecting the companies’ profitability. LaPointe has noticed the CEOs of such companies have “been open and articulate in communicating the business strategy in how he/she wants the business to be run to the point where employees are empowered to make great decisions.” He added: “It’s another piece in competing and building a better company.”

The criteria used to choose the top 50 companies included business metrics, employees’ access to financial information and ways in which the companies’ leaders are committed to creating engaging workplaces.

As for companies that want to create engaging workplaces, LaPointe suggested they look at other companies on the list such as Winning Workplaces or Small Giants.

Firespring is constantly working to improve its workplace from its Culture Club (with an honorary Boy George) to its daily 11:11 a.m. staff meetings, dubbed the “Firestarter.” Improvements implemented by the Culture Club have ranged from buying a popcorn machine for the office to a bowling tournament.

“A lot of respect goes towards making sure we love being here,” said Wilkinson.

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