Seven years ago, CEO Chris McMurry began offering an anonymous online survey to the employees of his Phoenix-based custom publishing firm, McMurry Inc. The questions on what now is known as “The Best/Worst Survey” are simple: What are the three things you like most about the company, and what are the three things you like least about it? The things that survey respondents like stay in place. For what they don’t like, the employees are asked to offer suggestions on how to fix them. They also have to provide the pros and cons of the proposed solution.
“We wanted to know what was on people’s minds and [to what] degree we’re satisfying them,” McMurry, 42, says of the survey, which is now distributed every April. “Are we making progress making these people happy? If not, they’re leaving.”
As a result of one of the survey suggestions, the 160-person workforce at McMurry now joins together at lunchtime once a month on a Friday afternoon in the “town center” of the company’s campus for “Free Food Friday.” The chow is on the house for employees. One month, everyone could be eating tacos. The next month’s menu may consist of submarine sandwiches. Yet it’s not the free food, but rather the camaraderie, that makes the event a staff favorite.
McMurry says “Free Food Friday” came about when the rapid growth the firm had experienced in the last few years led one employee to express a concern in the Best/Worst Survey about a slight loss of the close-knit feeling that existed among employees. “It’s an idea to help a growing family [still] feel like a community and feel small,” McMurry says. “Companies are made of people. If you hire truly great people, and management is focused on helping them succeed and making them happy, the whole thing works. The core of what is making us succeed is hiring great people. You stop at nothing to find great people.”