Think About It: OIWC asks, what does it mean to be a committed company?

A recent industry-wide survey across the outdoor, bike and snow sports industries conducted by Leisure Trends on behalf of Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition (OIWC) set out to uncover women's views regarding career opportunity, compensation and benefits. Only slightly more than half (58 percent) who responded thought that their company was doing a good job commitment-wise and 42 percent thought their company needed improvement.
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A recent industry-wide survey across the outdoor, bike and snow sports industries conducted by Leisure Trends on behalf of Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition (OIWC) set out to uncover women's views regarding career opportunity, compensation and benefits.

Hundreds were surveyed and among the findings, 100 percent of respondents said that working for a company that was committed to its employees was an important intangible benefit. Ninety-six percent also thought it important that their company demonstrate commitment to them personally.

Yet, only slightly more than half (58 percent) thought that their company was doing a good job commitment-wise and 42 percent thought their company needed improvement.

Which prompts the question: What does it mean to be a committed company? Not surprisingly, there is no one formula that will work for every organization or every employee. However, women interviewed for this article agreed, commitment means trying to see the other's perspective and coming to a compromise that works for both employer and employee.

To understand how to demonstrate commitment to your employees, the first step is to ask.

Ali Sacash-Johnson of True North Marketing said her previous employer creatively managed making employees feel valued during a tough fiscal year.

"We weren't going to give any salary increases. Instead, my boss urged the managers to find creative ways to use our budget allocations to reward our employees. Maybe it meant staying at a nicer hotel during a trade show," she said. "That directive spoke volumes: We can't reward our employees in the traditional manner -- with cold, hard cash -- but we want to demonstrate in meaningful ways that we value their hard work."

Giving employees confidence in their job security is something Deanne Wilson, marketing manager at Giant Bicycles, said she considers the top priority. "The company will do their best during hard times to avoid layoffs and instead cut bonus programs or other costs in order to keep the staff, and the company culture communicates that."

She added that her previous employer still paid all of its employees, including hourly staff, following the destruction of its warehouse by Hurricane Wilma and the downtime during its subsequent repair. "Customers took notice and showed a positive response to the brand as well," she added.

Other ways for companies to demonstrate their commitment to employees include investing in training programs and encouraging communication and team building across all levels. This can include taking into consideration what employees would enjoy when creating corporate events.

"Often, I see what management wants (i.e. a golf tournament and only management plays golf) and not what the employees want," Wilson noted.

"A human resources person once mentioned the five languages of love -- and how you can tailor your 'service' according to how people like to receive it," Lori Harrod, principal of the recruiting firm Plum and OIWC's president-elect, said. "It opened my eyes to customer service in recruiting. Some clients like email, voice mail, conference calls, meeting in person, seeing a lot of resumes, only seeing a few, etc. And, you need to figure that out to be successful. The same would apply within a company -- knowing what your employees value is the first step."

This monthly column, a partnership between OIWC and SNEWS®, aims to address the issues that concern women in the industry most -- anything that is controversial, topical or newsworthy relating to women and the outdoors. The goal is to help, educate, inspire and grow. We welcome your ideas, gripes, thoughts and comments. Bring it on. Email us at oiwc@snewsnet.com.

Ali Sacash-Johnson will be presenting other key findings of OIWC's job satisfaction survey at the OIWC Gatherings at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market and SIA later this month. Interested companies and attendees should visit www.oiwc.org for more details and to pre-register for the events.

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