Corporate Culture Guru Susan Conwell Says The Key To Asking For Job Flexibility Is Confidence

Susan ConwellSusan Conwell is very concerned with your job satisfaction. In fact, her entire company is formed around the premise that everyone should love their place of employment. Susan is the Global and US CEO of Great Place To Work, a consulting company that helps big and small companies create a positive corporate culture and happy, productive employees. Her company has been helping make the work world better for over 20 years and in more than 40 different countries.

So we sat down with Susan to talk about the aspects of a great company, how you can help make your business work with your life, and the growing concern of the 24/7 work culture.

According to Susan, the hallmarks of a great place to work don’t always revolve around perks and luxuries. Like Google recently realized when they regained their position as “Happiest Company,” it’s not all about the bonuses. Really happy employees feel respected by their bosses, confident in their job security and valued for their expertise. Susan tells me, “We use something called the ‘Trust Index’ and it’s two-thirds of the score we give companies. That index really is back to basics, and it’s about the trust between the individual and the company.”

I think as professionals, we all know the insecurity that comes when you don’t trust that your company wants to take care of you, or has the same goals as you. That’s a difficult way to work. It makes sense that trust is an important part of creating a positive work culture. But there’s even more than that.

“It’s important for employees to feel like, ‘I can be myself’,” Susan explains. “If you’re a mother, it’s important that you feel like you can be a mom without it hurting your standing at work.” And that concept goes far beyond parenthood. Every employee needs to feel like they’re accepted for the person that they are. They shouldn’t be hiding anything or putting on a show when they’re in the office. Accepting people for who they are seems like an easy and inexpensive way to create happy employees.

And it shouldn’t be overlooked that much of Susan’s advice won’t cost too much for companies to implement. “We work with large, medium and small companies,” Susan tells me, “And the expense of perks can be daunting.” Small businesses assume that they can’t compete with the likes of Google when it comes to making their teams happy, but that’s why it’s important to think about more than just the day cares and fitness centers. There’s so much you can do.

One big way to increase job satisfaction is to increase work flexibility, and it’s a topic that Susan is particularly passionate about. “Flexibility is good for the bottom line,” Susan states matter-of-factly. And she has some convincing research on her side. “85 of the Top 100 businesses in this country provide flexible work arrangements,” she informed me.

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