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How Your Organization Can Leverage Business Certifications to Attract and Retain Talent

The Difference is the Purpose. This tagline sums up why Buckner International earned the Great Place to Work (GPTW) designation for two years in a row. The first year we applied for the GPTW certification for Buckner Retirement Services and achieved it. The second year we attempted to achieve this designation for all three divisions of Buckner: Buckner International, Buckner Children and Family Services, and Buckner Retirement Services. While it was a team effort to go through the process to submit for all three divisions, the hard work paid off when we earned this certification across the board. The required trust score was 60; Buckner came in at 85. At 85% of employees agreeing Buckner is a Great Place to Work, we scored almost 30 points higher than a typical U.S.-based company at 57%.

How do business certifications impact job candidates and existing employees?

Businesses should care about its reputation among its work force for many reasons. One, it’s important to do the right thing and treat employees well. You’ve probably heard the saying, "happy employees, happy customers." I believe this is what led Buckner to achieve its GPTW certifications. Happy employees hopefully take great care of clients because they feel valued and understand their unique roles in the organization. A lot of times in business, service is the main distinction for clients in competitive marketplaces. When you stop and think about your employees and clients as human beings, more empathy and true servant leadership can prevail in your business.

About 94% of employees said working at Buckner produced a sense of pride, made them feel good about the ways they are contributing to the community, and made them feel welcome when they first joined the organization. About 93% said they were able to take time off work when necessary and their work has a special meaning beyond being “just a job.” Anytime you can score high on these kinds of issues, you are a GPTW.

What can an organization do to earn business certifications, like Great Place to Work, to attract new talent and retain existing employees?

According to Jamie Birt of Indeed, there are 15 things that make a company a Great Place to Work. Here's how these areas translated at Buckner:

  1. Competitive compensation. Buckner strives to compensate its employees fairly with competitive salaries and benefits, not just within the nonprofit sector but within professional fields. Buckner employs a variety of professionals working in IT, finance, human resources, communications, social services, nursing, and more. We also have a menu of more than 65 benefits to choose from.

  2. Company culture. Culture is a critical factor and probably the most important at Buckner. Leadership has worked on the issue of transparency among others for several years, and I can see the benefit. Buckner is a purposeful and fun place to work. The difference is the purpose.

  3. Community. There is a sense of teamwork, healthy work relationships, and a sense of community at Buckner.

  4. Trust. Trust is critical. I've developed a level of trust first among my executive leadership team and then throughout the organization. We say what we mean, mean what we say, and say it often.

  5. Fairness. We all want fairness, including me. So, this is what I strive for when making decisions that affect my team. I want to do what is fair and to be known as a fair leader.

  6. Communication. Communication is critical. Open, honest, clear, and consistent communication about what matters is essential. I do this through CEO updates, town halls, devotionals (we are a faith-based nonprofit), skip-level conversations, and other customized avenues. Listening is just as important, if not more important than sharing information.

  7. Innovation. I want Buckner to be known for its innovation. We build on 144 years of innovation, since 1879, and are constantly looking for new ways to serve vulnerable children, families, and senior adults.

  8. Professional Development. About four years ago, I recruited Kelly Cockrell to join Buckner as a Director of Talent Development. She has done an outstanding job creating ways for us to develop our talent at all levels of the organization. Developing our talent through coaching, mentoring, training, education, and succession planning is a high priority at Buckner.

  9. Engagement. We enjoy a high level of engagement on the part of our employees because they believe in our mission to follow the example of Jesus by serving vulnerable children, families, and seniors. It’s a mission not just a job.

  10. Caring. I personally care about all our employees and their families. As a faith-based nonprofit ministry, caring is an integral part of our organizational DNA.

  11. Desirable employer. I believe Buckner is a desirable employer because we have strong brand presence and identity. Fourteen decades later, Buckner is still a strong brand in the field of social services.

  12. Transparency. I operate as an open book and talk about our challenges as well as our victories. We set goals and report on results. I have four answers when asked tough questions: I give a truthful answer; I say I know the answer but cannot share it yet; I admit when I do not know; or I admit when the matter is confidential.

  13. Honorable mission. Buckner takes the cake here! Period. Our mission is not only honorable, but also admirable, transformational, and makes a big difference in the “here and now,” as well as the “yet to be” of life. We shine hope in tough situations for children and families. We inspire happiness in the sunset of life. We do this 24/7.

  14. Leadership. Leadership at a GPTW company must be stellar. Employees enjoy working with confident, effective, and fair leaders. Our top leadership works hard to engage their teams, demonstrate respect for their colleagues, and lead them toward results-oriented goals. My vision is to show each employee, regardless of job function, how their work contributes to the organizational strategy every day.

  15. Diversity. Diversity is on my front burner. We seek to reflect and align the demography of our clients, workforce, leadership, executive leadership, and board. It is a journey with a clear destination.

While Buckner is certified as a Great Place to Work organization, we currently sit at 85%. I aspire for us to move into the 90s with a possible 100% score. I am very proud of our designation as a GPTW company and realize there is always room for improvement. Keeping a focus on these 15 areas of emphasis will help sustain and strengthen our organization.


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