Lansner: O.C. workers crave great workplaces more than cash

What makes a great Orange County workplace?

Part of the Orange County Register’s annual Top Workplaces contest is a survey of those people who toil for arguably the best bosses around. Pollsters for the contest’s manager, Workplace Dynamics, each year ask employees to grade their employers on 23 key characteristics of any great place to work.

I tossed into my trusty spreadsheet the Workplace Dynamics survey results for Orange County and the nation from the past two years. I wanted to learn what workplace traits were universal strengths at highly ranked employers and where there was a distinct difference in opinion, locally vs. nationally.

Remember, these are the opinions of workers at some of the best-rated places to work around the county and nationwide. So we’re parsing shades of excellence, not problem areas.

I found that the workplace qualities that got broad-based high marks were right out of “Management 101: Boosting Employee Morale.”

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Traits that got strong nods of approval from 4 out of 5 workers surveyed locally and nationally at top workplaces were: companies with strong values and ethics; managers who are helpful and listen to workers’ concerns; executives who appreciate hard work; and employers that offer meaningful work and value a balance between work and the rest of their staff’s lives.

The topics with less geographical agreement were equally telling.

Optimism of Orange County workers the past two years ran above the national norm. Significantly, a greater share of locals felt their workplaces had little negativity and their employer was “going in the right direction.”

In large part, this may reflect the strong performance of the regional economy. It could also be because Orange County’s top workplaces were seen as a bit better-run.

More local employees told the survey that their companies did “things efficiently and well” and…

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