In case you missed it – in a recent Talent Management article, Good Company co-authors Laurie Bassi and yours truly (with discussion from Larry Costello as well) explore how your organization can create additional value from your employee survey.
A few days ago, we held a webinar discussing the release of the 2012 Good Company Index, including an exploration of what every CFO should know about our research on the benefits of being a Good Company.
The video of the webinar is embedded below; feel free to check it out if you missed it the first time!
Slow may be the new secret to success.
That is, the greatest workplace productivity could come from taking our time on tasks and tuning out the pressure to do more at once.
So says Peter Bacevice, research director at consulting firm DEGW. Bacevice borrows the language from the growing “Slow Food” movement to coin the term “Slow Work.”
“Many of us recognize that constantly reacting to immediate demands distracts us from focusing on long-term goals and aspirations—and yet, we often feel starved for time to do so,” he says. “Today’s quick wins are undermining tomorrow’s performance.”
This rings true to me. I write and edit best when I carve out an hour and a half or two hours of dedicated work, ignoring IM, email alerts and even phone calls. And it’s the long-term projects that typically are most satisfying or move the needle most. A case in point is Workforce’s recent package on contingent labor strategy, where we stepped back and tried to chart a new course for how companies ought to work with contractors, temps and the like.
Bacevice’s tortoise-over-hare strategy has some strong evidence behind it. For example, research shows that “heavy media multitaskers” are less likely than “light media multitaskers” to filter out distractions and have a more difficult time switching between tasks. In other words, the people constantly answering texts, tweeting, posting to LinkedIn and checking YouTube videos aren’t ultimately as good at focusing on what matters.
Another study found that employees of companies with flexible work practices—defined by reduced working hours & work-from-home options—are more satisfied with their jobs and demonstrate escalated levels of commitment to the organization.
As my colleague Rick Bell points out, “Slow Work” also echoes the “persistence hunting” recounted in the brilliant book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Persistence hunting refers to running after antelope or other game for hours on end. Humans can actually out-run any four-legged beast over long distances, thanks largely to our ability to cool ourselves by sweating. And most of the chase is at a jogging pace, not a sprint. Armed with our cooling system and marathoner legs, one theory goes, our ancestors became deadly, efficient hunters and eventually rose to dominance as a species.
To be sure, there are times these days when we need to sprint like cheetahs or flit about like hummingbirds. But I think there’s a strong case to be made for remembering our inner marathoner, our latent persistent hunter.
Slow and steady can slay the antelope and win the rat race.
A version of this post originally appeared at Ed’s Work in Progress blog at Workforce.com.
We originally assigned Good Company Index grades to Fortune 100 companies in June 2010 (those grades were reported as the 2011 Good Company Index, reflecting the year in which our book was published). As we did last year on the one-year anniversary of the Index, this year we again examined all “industry-matched pairs” (two companies in the same industry) in the Fortune 100 in which the companies’ Good Company grades differed by one or more full grade levels (for example, a grade of B versus a grade of C).
Those companies with higher Good Company grades significantly outperformed their competitors in the first year and then further extended that outperformance in the second year. The stock price of the company with the higher grade outperformed that of its competitor with the lower grade by an average of 30.2 percentage points cumulatively over the 2-year period (see figure below).
In addition, we found that in 83 percent of the pairs (10 of 12), the higher-ranked company outperformed the other over the 24-month period. For example, the stock value of Verizon (grade of C+ in June 2010) outperformed AT&T (grade of D+) by 21.7 percentage points during that period, 76.5 percent to 54.8 percent.
Below is an excerpt from our recently-released report “2012 Good Company Index: It (Still) Pays to Be Good.”
Although Disney’s grade dropped, other Fortune 100 companies repeated strong performances on the Good Company Index™. In particular, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, American Express, Intel, Cisco Systems, United Parcel Service, and Best Buy all earned at least a solid B on both the 2011 and 2012 editions of the index (see table below).
Procter & Gamble stands out as a particularly worthy company, having achieved a B+ in both years. As with Time Warner, it had a neutral mark with respect to customers. But the consumer products giant earned high marks as an employer thanks to a Glassdoor.com rating of 3.8 of 5. P&G also made a solid showing as a steward, with a high score on the Newsweek Green Rankings and membership in the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index.
FedEx slipped some from an A- to a B. This was a rare year that the shipping specialist did not make the Fortune Best Companies to Work For list, which cost it a point in our scoring system. But FedEx did rate highly enough with employees at Glassdoor.com to earn one point as a Good Employer. It also stood out for good customer service at wRatings. And with a variety of environmental initiatives, a number of which we discussed in Good Company, FedEx scored highly on the Newsweek Green Rankings.
Apple bears special mention. Although it didn’t earn a solid B in both years of the index (it had a B- last year), it was one of the top three index performers this year along with Time Warner and P&G. Apple earned a B+, on the strength of a top good seller score, a high Newsweek Green Ranking, and lofty employee ratings at Glassdoor.com. Only a demerit for giving CEO Tim Cook the largest pay package of any company in the rankings prevented Apple from earning an A- grade.
Apple clearly has delighted customers with innovative products and services such as the iPad, FaceTime and Siri. But we find ourselves a bit troubled with the company’s high rating as an employer given evidence in recent years of less-than-decent treatment of Apple’s extended workforce in overseas factories run by partners. We have yet to find a reliable, comprehensive source of data on companies’ outsourced workers to include in our index calculations, though. Lacking such a data source, we can only rely on the enthusiasm direct employees have for Apple. And we also trust that the “technology-fueled people power” we discussed in Good Company—forces such as social media tools and a culture of personal disclosure—will continue to push Apple to improve the treatment of workers in its supply chain.