When Robbie Bell enters an office, retail store, healthcare facility, bank or professional firm, she can sense right away if it’s a good place to work. It’s a vibe that she says is equally strong in a negative atmosphere, “and that’s where I don’t want to be.”
“Associates in a department store who seem to hide so they can’t help you find your items? Not so great,” said Bell, vice president of business development for the Mississippi Business Journal and director of the EXPO. “I’ve often read in business publications that a successful business is 95% people and 5% product or service. I believe this is a good gauge and I’m confident that most employers recognize that having satisfied workers contributes a lot toward their success in satisfying customers.”
Part of Bell’s job is to conduct the annual awards programs for MBJ. Her team has been working since mid-year to make a change in the kick-off program for the Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO.
“The Salute to Business and Industry program has been very popular and successful,” she explained. “We’ve identified many outstanding companies in Mississippi for their good corporate citizenship. We may revisit this program in the future, but right now there is so much emphasis on building the strength of our workforce, it seems timely to recognize companies that stand out as good employers.”
Months of research
Adding the Best Places to Work program for the first time was challenging, admitted Bell. “We spent months researching the project as it had been handled in other states,” she said. “Our publisher, Joe Jones, and general manager, Ron Jones, both wanted to give this program a shot. We brainstormed on the best approaches for our market and then determined to move forward.”
At the kick-off breakfast, beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 18, at the Mississippi Trademart, three companies in each of the four size categories will be recognized as attaining the pinnacle of workplace success. Southern Research Group, a program partner, will provide a free analysis of the data gathered for these top winners, who will be profiled in an upcoming issue of MBJ. Other listed winners will be able to purchase their results and analysis at a greatly reduced fee.
“The Best Places to Work idea is national in scale,” explained MBJ publisher Joe Jones. “We’ve admired the program for several years and decided to bring it to Mississippi this year. The thrust of the Best Places program is it lets management know how employees feel about their work environment. As managers, we make decisions about personnel matters and assume that we know how employees perceive those decisions. The Best Places program provides valuable feedback on how employees really feel about their employer and the environment where they spend their work time.”
The Mississippi Society for Human Resource Management also partnered with MBJ to encourage member companies to participate. Special thanks to U.S. NetworX for the design and maintenance of the Best Places Web site, said Bell.
The event, which features a buffet breakfast to allow top executives from around the state to better network, and music by Raphael Semmes and his band, is sponsored by Trustmark National Bank, Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and SuperTalk Mississippi 97.3 radio.
“We know that Mississippi is a great place to live and work, so we thought it was natural to look at where the best places to work in Mississippi are,” said MDA spokesperson Scott Hamilton. “We like to think that MDA is at the beginning of a lot of good things that happen in Mississippi, so being at the beginning of the event seems to fit.”
‘Employee loyalty means everything’
Paul Gallo, talk show host and general manager for WFMN-FM, the flagship station for the SuperTalk Network, said “being in the business of helping other businesses succeed through marketing, I’ve seen over the years where employee loyalty means everything.”
“When you have a staff that looks forward to coming to work on Monday morning, it means the formula for success is in place and is as important as any business plan,” he said.
For more information on the Best Places to Work in Mississippi program, visit www.bestplacestoworkinms.com.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at Lynne.Jeter@gmail.com.