I had my mind opened a little wider today during a job interview. It was brought to my attention that there are companies out there that actually value the development and well being of their coworkers as high as they value making a buck. I'm not talking about the companies that turn their workspaces into rumpus rooms or their campuses into quaint midwest towns, complete with soda shops and BBQ joints. In my opinion, those perks just keep the workers from taking too long at lunch or from moaning about how hard it is to find a good foosball table in this town. What fascinates me are the places that realize that the people they hire today can be smarter, happier and more productive tomorrow with just a little effort on the company's part.
Every company gives lip service to the value they put on their people. There are a few that go as far as integrate that value into their mission statement and then into the daily culture. The concept of "constant improvement" can be daunting to some people, but when you see that everyone around you is immersed in positive steps to improve their skills and balance their work and personal lives, the resistance to change tends to lower. Instead of having to think back over what you did in the last year for something to put on your self-appraisal, it prompts you to ask yourself "how did I improve myself today", each and every day.
I'm excited to see how Zappos and Panda Restaurants not only prioritize employee personal development, but how they publish it in big, bold color on their web sites. Hopefully, these public displays of employee affection will nudge other less forward-thinking companies to reconsider their people policies and work to unlock the potential of their very human resources. As I am made aware of liked-minded companies, I will post their links up here, too.