While empowering employees on the factory floor has become a best practice, empowering employees in other areas of the organization is coming into its own. One company that has achieved this is HCL Technologies, an IT solutions-provider to the manufacturing industry, which instituted a rather untraditional management style. Moving the sacrosanct customer to second place, the management system is called EFCS (Employees First, Customers Second.)

"We made management and managers, including those in enabling functions (such as finance, human resources, etc.) accountable to those who create value," explained CEO Vineet Nayar, in a recent IndustryWeek article. "The greatest impact of this EFCS is that it unleashes the power of the many and loosens the stranglehold of the few. It increases speed and quality of innovation and decision-making where it matters most -- in the value zone -- every day."

And this philosophy is part of the reason that the company has tripled revenues and income in the last 5 years, doubled its market cap and increased customer satisfaction by nearly 73%.

The company also recently announced it was adding 10,000 jobs over the next 5 years.
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Recognizing that this philosophy is an example of "democratic workplace practices contributing to high performance, engagement, innovation and profitability' the company was placed on the WorldBlu List of Democratic Workplaces 2012 on May 4.

"People want freedom rather than fear in the workplace," comments WorldBlu Founder and CEO, Traci Fenton. "WorldBlu-certified organizations model how democracy in the workplace unleashes human potential and builds highly successful organizations that change the world for the better."

The list is composed of only 48 organizations selected from a breadth of industries including technology, manufacturing, health care, retail, services and energy. The combined annual revenue of World Blu certified companies is more than $17 billion.

"This award is a testimony to the employee driven, management embraced culture that is followed at HCL," said Shami Khorana, president, HCL America. "In 2005, HCL embraced the strategy Employees First, Customer Second, and retooled the company to become this trusted, transparent and democratic organization as it stands today. Our 90,000 transformers view themselves as the fundamental source of companys value, constantly generating new ideas and becoming the drivers for new business growth."