Friday, March 27, 2009

101 Best West Michigan Companies?

I've always wondered about the PR value of having your business or organization end up on a 'best (fill in the blank)'  list. Colleges and universities often tout their place on annual US News & World Report lists even as they debate the method used to create the lists. Are these lists accurate and meaningful, or merely marketing ploys by those who create and promote them?

So I was both curious and dubious to read about the Michigan Business and Professional Association's "101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in West Michigan" list. 

On the one hand, the companies  on this current list had to be nominated. So some worthy candidates don't appear on the list merely because they were not considered. That diminishes the worth of saying this list truly represents the top 101  companies in the region. In fact, I would love to know how many nominations were entered--to demonstrate rigor in the process, it would be instructive to know that some nominations were not considered worthy (without naming names of course). Also, in looking at the list, some 'winners' have their HQ outside West Michigan, which may be a minor point but it changes the meaning of "West Michigan companies."

That aside, I would argue that there is PR value in the list. The MBPA press release asserts that the list is the product of independent evaluation. Also, while they tout the companies  for exemplary human resource practices, from a broad perspective I would say the categories listed represent PR practice and evaluation as well: Communication, Community Initiatives, Compensation and Benefits, Diversity and Multiculturalism, Employee Education and Development, Employee Engagement and Commitment, Recognition and Retention, Recruitment and Selection, Small Business and Work-Life Balance.

While many outside  of PR don't recognize this, PR is one of the broadest management functions because it considers all publics, including employees. Therefore, one key objective of PR is to position an organization as an "employer of choice," meaning a place where people would love to work if given the opportunity. At a time when area business leaders are saying that recruiting and retaining talent is their number one concern, this is a vital management issue and matter for measurement. 

So, kudos to those of you who made the list. And for others, consider that maybe you should add nominating your organization to your list of PR goals for next year. Nominations for 2010 are being accepted now.

2 comments:

Craig Rich said...

I understand most companies nominate themselves for this award, but that the judging process is fairly extensive and fair. It seems fairly legit and takes a lot of effort to attain the award. They only gave out 30-some awards the first year, 60-some the 2nd year and are now finally getting many more nominations than the 101 they award.

Jennifer Kluge said...

Tim:

Thank you for noticing that there is indeed PR Value to the West Michigan's 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For program presented by us at the Michigan Business and Professional Association. Quite honestly, PR is not the reason why we do the program.

We want to shine a light on the positive impact that these practices have on the region as well elevate those companies that do well. Every community program that we do has that mission..to "Elevate Michigan" through business.

We agree with you that the process needs to be stringent and indeed it is. Ask any winner, they will tell you the process is quite elaborate.

We encouraged nominations, because we feel that is the more ethical and fair approach to finding companies that meet the criteria rather than us picking them. Customers can nominate, employees can nominate and the like.

The selection process is three fold, 1. nominations are received and employee rosters are required. 2. both the employer and employees are surveyed to ensure claims of the employer match employee perceptions. Those quantitative scores are then compiled by the Illinois Institute of Technology's Center for Research and Service. These scores are then benchmarked not only for West Michigan but all regions where we have the program. The survey and the scoring are extensive and reviewed annually 3. Qualitative Scores are compiled locally. Davenport University scores here in West Michigan. All of these scores are weighted and the winners are selected. If a company does not meet the minimum benchmark, they will not receive the award even if there are not a 101 winners as was mentioned.

Each year it is expected that the bar is raised to better the community as a whole. Our program makes companies better, the people that work there better for it and something for the region to be proud of.

So Tim, I hope this answers your questions. We value the program and the positive energy it brings to West Michigan. And oh yes, the PR value for the company.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at 586-393-8800 if we can answer any questions. As you can see we are proud of the impact we are making.

Jennifer Kluge
Executive Vice President, COO
Michigan Business and Professional Association