Maximizing the People Side of Business at the MITRE Corporation
Previously I spoke of how the data validates the benefits of paying attention to the people side of business. A 2011 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award winner, the MITRE Corporation stands out as a leader that successfully recruits, develops, and retains its workforce. As a larger business in the technology field, the MITRE Corporation views its intellectual capital as the company’s most important asset.
To build employee involvement, management actively invites employees to ask questions and make recommendations for workplace improvements. Bimonthly lunches allow employees to meet face-to-face with company executives, share ideas and engage in candid conversations about their careers. At this company, the employee survey is used as a critical accountability and information gathering tool that is actually used for planning and positive change.
At MITRE, employees average 40 to 60 hours of the internal and external training each year. With their own Institute, they deliver an array of nearly 800 in-house professional development courses, attracting more than 9000 participants annually. All employees are encouraged to take advantage of educational opportunities, including through a variety of options from distance learning and video conferencing to e- learning programs.
The company also explicitly spells out its goal of having employees achieve a work-life balance. The commitment to work-life balance is put into action through a holistic approach, the centerpiece of which is the Flexible Work Arrangements Program (FWAP). This program covers options for job sharing, part-time employment, flextime, teleworking, part-time and occasional telecommuting, compressed work weeks and phased retirement.
The bottom line is that MITRE’s attention to the people side of business has been a significant factor in attracting and keeping great staff. Since initiating its comprehensive work-life program eight years ago, the company’s employee attrition rate dropped from 12% to less than 5% per year. Consequently, the company can be found on a number of “employer of choice” lists.
Taking care of the people side of business is not just a thoughtful thing to do for your employees. It is the right thing to do for keeping your people healthy, happy, and highly productive. For more on the psychologically healthy workplace awards program, see phwa.org.
Tom DeMaio, PhD