This week, we have Guest Comments from Mark Harbeke. He stopped by our Brag Basket a couple of times, so we’re letting him share some more. If you have something to share, email me!
Hello, Small Biz Survival Readers. My name is Mark Harbeke. I’m manager of content development for Winning Workplaces, a nonprofit in the Chicago area that helps small and midsized businesses create better work environments.
Your host, Becky, asked me to say a few words about Winning Workplaces. I read Small Biz Survival regularly and have posted on it a few times. Perhaps you will identify with what we do.
Winning Workplaces was founded in 2001 by the family that co-owned auto parts manufacturer Fel-Pro, Inc. from 1918 until 1998. Based in Chicago, from the early days Fel-Pro was recognized throughout the city as a great place to work. By the 1970s and 1980s, the company was using people-friendly practices to engage and empower employees – many of which were pioneering at the time. These included not just open book management and hosting regular meetings where employees could voice concerns openly and honestly, but great benefits like a summer camp, tuition assistance and a “time off to volunteer” program. Throughout the 1990s, Fel-Pro was featured as a great place to work in magazines like FORTUNE and Working Mother.
When the family sold the business, they wanted to create an organization that would serve as a resource for small and midsized businesses – a place for that audience, large and contributive to our economy but often underserved, to go to for help in improving morale, their work cultures, productivity and the bottom line. Thus, Winning Workplaces was born.
We have three offerings for small and midsized organizations:
A free information clearinghouse of workplace best practices via our website, WinningWorkplaces.org, and our monthly e-newsletter, Winning Workplaces Ideas;Affordable consulting and training services to help organizations realize their potential, including easy-to-use Tool Kits; andAn annual recognition program for exceptional small organizations.
I want to talk about this third offering a bit more, as it’s undergoing a transition. In the past, we focused on honoring, with a media partner, the Best Bosses of small and midsized businesses throughout North America. You can see all the past winners on our website. Along with announcing the list of winners through our media partner, we’ve held a Conference & Celebration in the fall to honor them in person. In fact, the awards ceremony at this conference is the culmination of a series of workshops where small business owners and leaders can learn directly from their successful peers.
For 2007, we’re shifting gears. We recently announced, in cooperation with The Wall Street Journal, our Top Small Workplaces recognition program for exceptional small organizations. Through January 2007 we are seeking nominations of businesses that fit our criteria. I encourage you to nominate your organization for this honor by visiting StartupJournal.com. You may also wish to forward this link to friends, family and colleagues. As a small nonprofit (we have a full-time staff of 5 people), we’re very excited about this partnership and are trying to assemble a broad pool of nominees.
Nominated organizations will be sent a formal application in January 2007, which will be due back to us in March. Our staff and a panel of judges will then do due diligence on the applications, and the winners will be announced in a special section of the Journal’s StartupJournal paper in October 2007. The same month, as we’ve done in years past, we will also honor these organizations at a conference. The conference will likely be in Chicago; the date will be announced soon.
If your small organization is struggling, whether at the management or employee level, we’re here to help. You can read more about what our Consulting & Training area offers on our website, WinningWorkplaces.org. You can also view a list of past clients on this page, many of which are nonprofits and academic institutions. If nothing else, you can benefit from our experience and research by registering to receive our free e-newsletter.
Thanks for listening, and for supporting the good work small businesses do every day by reading Becky’s Small Biz Survival blog, which, she recently announced, was named as the only blog of note on the Montana Tribal State Economic Development Commission’s website.
Here’s to creating and building enterprises that truly are “better for people, better for business”!
Music by Frenz, from Pod Safe Audio.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.