Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Navy is already one of the Top 100 Best Places to Work in America

Now, how do we get it on the Fortune Magazine list?

A year ago, the Chief of Naval Operations’ first monthly RhumbLines update was appropriately focused on making the Navy a “Top 50 Place to Work” during his tenure. This goal is both admirable and achievable.

Each year since 1998, Fortune Magazine has published its list of the Top 100 Best Companies to work for in America. How do we get the Navy on this list by 2011? We’ve got to get started today and the CNO has energized the process through his personal commitment. In a way, it’s almost like winning the lottery – you’ve got to buy a ticket to have an opportunity to win. Buying the ticket in this case means engaging The Great Place to Work ® Institute.

To be considered for the list being published in 2009, this had to be accomplished by the 10th of March 2008. We missed that boat !!

Officially, government agencies are precluded from entering the competition. In my opinion, the Navy is already a Top 50 Best Company in America. So much so that I have been bold enough to recommend to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Director of the Navy Staff that they approach GPW Institute and ask for a waiver, or at least an informal evaluation based on GPW Institute’s criteria.

Looking at the 2008 list of top 100 companies, the Navy is a legitimate contender for a rightful place on the list. We may not necessarily be at the level of number one GOOGLE ® in every competitive category, but we’ve come a long way over the past 10 years in all the areas of ‘Best Company’ criteria: benefits, job growth, pay, turnover, women, minorities and, in particular, something the GPW Institute calls the Trust Index©. This index consists of 57 statements that cover credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie - the five dimensions that correspond with the Great Place to Work® Model©. Their trust index provides the basis for the majority of the score for companies being evaluated for consideration as a top 100 company. Central to being recognized as a ‘Best Company’ is meeting the GPW Institute’s definition of ‘a great place to work’. The Navy must be a place where employees “trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with”. I think we meet their demanding criteria today.

A great workplace is measured by the quality of the three, interconnected relationships:
  • The relationship between employees and management.
  • The relationship between employees and their jobs/company.
  • The relationship between employees and other employees.
That being the case, Navy scores very well in each Trust Index© area and works every day on further self-improvement through Lean Six Sigma and other similar processes. For credibility and respect, various Zogby International and FOXNEWS surveys of the U.S. population found that the military is viewed as the top profession for credibility and respect with a 27% favorability rating, while businessmen and women earned only 2%.

For fairness scoring, one need look no further than the Navy’s promotion processes which, in the enlisted ranks, tests and promotes Sailors without regard to race, sex, religion or ethic origin. Chief Petty Officer and officer promotion boards make great effort to ensure that women, ethic and racial minorities are all properly considered and represented by promotion lists. We have a myriad of Equal Opportunity and diversity programs across the Navy which demonstrates the EXTREME lengths to which the Navy goes to ensure a fair working and promotion environment.

Our EO and diversity programs are equal to or better than any found in industry today. For pride and comaraderie, consider the closeness of our various warfare communities and other Navy commands. Who can argue with the pride or camaraderie found in the SEAL, Navy SEABEES, SWO, submarine, CPO or aviation communities; not to mention all the ships at sea? Nowhere is that pride and camaraderie more evident today than on YOUTUBE™. Check out the pride shown by Navy Carrier Aviation Squadrons ‘numa numa’ or ‘pump it’ videos, the Women of CVN76 - USS Ronald Reagan or USS ESSEX LHD-2 ‘Iron Gator’. These are but a few of the hundreds of examples which show people who, despite the most demanding personal circumstances imaginable, take great pleasure in their work and in the Shipmates they work with. This pride and comaraderie is pervasive throughout the Navy – at all levels of command. Any of these Navy communities could challenge GOOGLE for the #1 spot in pride and camaraderie.

Still not convinced that the Navy is a Top 100 Best Company to work for in the United States? Consider the following:
  • We have a total volunteer force of 640,000 selflessly dedicated and professional people willing to deploy around the world at a moment’s notice. Only the military can attract these numbers of committed career professionals.
  • Our career force retention levels exceed those of industry, despite the considerable personal sacrifice demanded of our employees.
  • Our benefits package (as a whole) is among the best available. We areworking to extend our benefits packages to include: Telework, extended pregnancy and parenthood leave, sabbatical programs, flex-work schedules, career on ramps and off ramps, 24 hour extended child care, 3 tour geographic stability, life coach pilot programs, and greater flexibility in job selection.
  • What other company regularly reaches out to the world community during natural disasters and other crises?
  • What other company can get similar industries to agree on a strategic plan to carry all those companies forward through the 21st century as our Maritime Strategy is doing?
Are we in the Top 100? Damn right! Add us to the list. We belong there!

P.S. This note was rejected by USNI PROCEEDINGS magazine about a year ago. I am NOT bitter !!

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