Top-down decision-making is all too common in workplaces, and often, employees are left in the dark about major company breakthroughs as a result.
But two companies, FedEx Ground and Turner Dairy Farms, stood out in this year's Top Workplaces survey for encouraging employees to share their business ideas with senior management and for fostering confidence in the company's future well-being.
Turner Dairy Farms, a family-owned Penn Hills company that produces dairy and other products, took the top spot in the "Direction" category, meaning that many of its employees believe the company is headed in the right direction.
Chuck Turner, president of the company, said the fact that his business is family owned has influenced the way he and his relatives run the business: Every employee of Turner Dairy Farms, he said, is treated like a member of the Turner family.
"It's great working with our family. We're dads and brothers and sisters and cousins, and everybody gets along," he said. "I think that transfers down to the whole company."
Mr. Turner and his cousin, human resources director Cathy Turner, have adopted the practice of regularly sharing information about the private company's financials and future plans with employees, despite not being required to provide any such information.
Knowing more, Mr. Turner and Ms. Turner said, allows employees to become more confident and invested in the company's well-being.
FedEx Ground, a FedEx subsidiary based in Moon, ranked highest in the Top Workplaces survey's "New Ideas" category, which ranks businesses based on how effectively they encourage employees to pitch business ideas to their managers.
Kelly Gray, FedEx Ground's senior vice president for human resources, said the entire FedEx company has been built on a culture of openness, in which employees are encouraged to discuss issues about the company's operations with any other employee, regardless of rank.
She added that management will sometimes solicit ideas from employees when attempting to resolve operational problems.
"We put our employees first and we ask them to really get involved, and we want them to be open with us," Ms. Gray said. "There's not this problem of not approaching anyone because you don't have a particular title."
In particular, last year a team of employees came up with an idea for reducing the processing time on packages with incorrect addresses and on packages whose recipients had moved. The idea proved successful and was implemented companywide.
Ms. Gray added that many employees feel so comfortable communicating with their managers that some even write letters to Fred Smith, the chairman of FedEx, the Memphis, Tenn.-based parent of FedEx Ground.
First Published September 12, 2013 4:00 AM