The Makings of a Great Company
This issue, featuring “The 20 Best Book Publishing Companies to Work For,” is one of the most rewarding issues I’ve produced in my career. It not only was an unbelievably challenging project to undertake, but it’s a chance to recognize those companies, like Random House (story on page 14), that truly appreciate the people who help them succeed, and that provide great workplace environments to attract and retain talented employees. Also, if you’re in the job market, it is also an opportunity to glimpse inside some other publishing companies.
Sabbatical programs, 35-hour work weeks, flex time and other benefits geared toward balancing personal-professional life are obviously important today, perhaps more so than in decades past, especially in publishing. Employees today are pressured to do more and more with less and less, and faster than ever. It’s like pulling a rubber band as far as you can, slowly stretching it to the breaking point. Some of us are like the rubber bands that have snapped and then had the ends tied together to keep us working.
Plus, let’s face it, the majority of us work to pay the bills. We try to find a job we love, or at least like—or, for some, that at the very least won’t kill us. And we try to find a job that we’re good at, or at least somewhat good at—or some of us just think we’re good at—just to make the bill-paying pursuit more pleasant. But most of us also have lives outside of work—whether that means caring for or spending time with family, working out at the gym, taking classes for an advanced degree or personal interests, volunteering at the local animal shelter, watching professional sports games or “American Idol,” playing bingo or fantasy football, taking swing-dancing lessons, napping, curling up with a good book, attending Star Trek conventions, showing your dog in dog shows, flipping houses … whatever it is, there’s a lot that you can do with your time and not a whole lot of time to do it. (Don’t even get me started on house work, doctors appointments, car repairs, banking and all of the “must dos” outside of work.) If you find a company that makes it easier for you to do the things you want or have to do in your personal life, you are likely to be a whole lot happier at that company. Vacation time alone is a novelty item that is coveted by most executives. (When I read that Random House gives four weeks of vacation to employees after just one year of service, I admittedly did covet a bit.)
Areas for Improvement
Even those companies who ranked among the top 20 have areas in which they could improve though, according to the study. So, while the feature story shares positive comments about why companies were nominated, I thought it also would be helpful to share with you some of the recurring comments respondents made about things they find important that their companies could improve upon/benefits their companies could provide to make them better places to work:
• better, more competitive salaries
• flex time
• more vacation time
• more resources to do the work required
• a more realistic workload and goals
• better software/technology to improve publishing
• year-round summer hours
• seminars on what other parts of the company do and who does what
• fewer meetings
• better defined procedures for efficiency
• compensation for good work and dedication
• more support for women with children
• staff training, development support
• better communication of strategy and objectives throughout the company
• better health benefits
• listening to employees’ suggestions or asking for employees’ input when making decisions that will affect those who do the work
So, if your employees’ morale is low, you might keep this list in mind, as well as take a look at what areas some of the top companies rated highly in to help you make improvements. It’s easy to take your staff for granted, especially when your own personal-professional life balance leaves a lot to be desired, but it can also take just a few small things to make your staff feel appreciated, happier and more motivated. If a happier, more motivated staff is a more productive staff, why would any company not want to do anything it could to keep its valued employees happy?