Just as RDO measures its performance with their customers, it also measures how it’s faring with employees. The firm participates in the “Great Place to Work Survey,” a benchmark employee evaluation method from the same company who manages Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” list. The voluntary survey routinely gets response rates in the mid 90%, compared to a 70% national average.

What consultants say sets RDO Equipment Co. apart — and what is largely responsible for the continuous improvement in scores — is the dynamic action plan process. After receiving the individual store results, each store creates its own action plan that managers update on a quarterly basis. “There’s a sense of positive energy around the survey companywide, given that employees own the action plans and commit to working on them with their managers,” says Jean Zimmerman, vice president-organizational development.

Keith Kreps, vice president, Northern Agriculture, says the surveys have brought meaningful change to the company. “A lot of issues involved communications and a perception among some employees that they didn’t know what was happening. So now we have monthly open-book meetings — where we buy lunch for everyone — and quarterly meetings where everyone is involved and share what’s happening in the business.” Stores have also incorporated 10-minute daily huddles where the immediate workday is discussed.

“RDO also knows that an employee’s direct supervisor is the most important key to workplace satisfaction. As a result, managers are required to meet face-to-face with their reports weekly or twice a month. “It isn’t much, maybe a half-hour,” says Iverson. “They can’t say they’re too busy to spend that one-on-one time. The meetings consist of 3 agenda items: what’s on the employee’s mind, the manager’s mind, and then a discussion surrounding future growth and training needs.”