Measuring Employees to Ensure a 'Great Place to Work'

Just as RDO measures its performance with their customers, it also measures how it’s faring with employees. The firm participates in the “Great Place to Work Survey,” a benchmark employee evaluation method from the same company who manages Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” list. The voluntary survey routinely gets response rates in the mid 90%, compared to a 70% national average.

What consultants say sets RDO Equipment Co. apart — and what is largely responsible for the continous improvement in scores — is the dynamic action plan process. After receiving the individual store results, each store creates its own action plan that managers update on a quarterly basis. “There’s a sense of positive energy around the survey companywide, given that employees own the action plans and commit to working on them with their managers,” says Jean Zimmerman, vice president-organizational development.

Keith Kreps, vice president, Northern Agriculture, says the surveys have brought meaningful change to the company. “A lot of issues involved communications and a perception among some employees that they didn’t know what was happening. So now we have monthly open-book meetings — where we buy lunch for everyone — and quarterly meetings where everyone is involved and share what’s happening in the business.” Stores have also incorporated 10-minute daily huddles where the immediate workday is discussed.

“RDO also knows that an employee’s direct supervisor is the most important key to workplace satisfaction. As a result, managers are required to meet face-to-face with their reports weekly or twice a month. “It isn’t much, maybe a half-hour,” says Iverson. “They can’t say they’re too busy to spend that one-on-one time. The meetings consist of 3 agenda items: what’s on the employee’s mind, the manager’s mind, and then a discussion surrounding future growth and training needs.”