When the Great Place to Work awards landed 16 years ago, some of what made a company great to work at included a games room, a ping pong table and free beer.
Today, those offerings have changed significantly with trust, support, and flexibility defining the most important assets a company can provide to its employees; fun is in there too!
The pandemic and technology have transformed the way people view their workspace, giving rise to a new working normal.
Last year, wellness and flexibility were key for the companies that made the list of Australia’s Best Workplaces; those who excelled were companies who genuinely cared about their people.
Roland Wee, director of Great Place to Work, said the 2023 results showed leaders and companies who supported their employees through the tough times in COVID came out stronger than those who did not.
“What sets the list of 90 Best Workplaces apart from the rest is their leaders’ strong integrity and unwavering commitment to deliver on promises, engaging meaningfully with employees, cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect and building a true sense of camaraderie, especially in tough times," he added.
Employees look to their leaders for direction and stability, intensifying the pressure on leaders to successfully navigate both operational demands and people responsibilities.
“These days, employees have to juggle work and personal responsibilities while grappling with the challenges of rising living costs,” Wee said.
“They're seeking leaders to show genuine empathy and care for their circumstances. They want leaders who can guide them through the challenges ahead.”
Organisations who continually rank on the lists excel in four key elements that exemplify Australia’s Best Workplaces: they foster inclusivity, listen to better understand employees, show genuine care and empathy, and create a sense of purpose.
Who made the list?
For four years in a row, technology company Cisco has found itself at the top of the list under the large company category. Julie Netkow, head of People and Communities, Cisco Australia & New Zealand said Cisco is very proud to be voted the best place to work by its employees.
“This accomplishment represents us as a company that values uniqueness and inclusivity, where our employees feel confident in being their authentic selves at work, knowing they will receive respect, and recognition for who they truly are.”
Further, what sets Cisco apart is a combination of trust, innovation, and choice.
“Three unique elements are supported further by our culture, purpose, and our people. Cisco is renowned for flexible work practices and embracing hybrid work; our technology allows people to work from anywhere.”
Employees also highlighted that Cisco’s purpose is meaningful to them, with a shared vision for a more equitable and inclusive future for everyone.
The company offers ten paid days off a year for volunteering and working across programs such as mentoring, fundraising and giving back to their communities.
“We cultivate an environment that champions ongoing education and teamwork, motivating our staff to venture into uncharted territory and welcome diversity. Our commitment to social responsibility and sustainability sets us apart, underscoring our sincere commitment to creating a meaningful global influence.”
With regards to employee retention, Netkow reiterates the principles of trust, innovation and choice are at the core.
“Cisco’s technology allows equal opportunities and the ability for people to work at a pace, place and time that suits them. We also have an average tenure of employees of eight years, and many of our team members move across the organisation. We often say: one Cisco, many careers. “
For new employees the onboarding process commences during the first 18 months of employment. The program evolves to cater to the changing needs of the employee, addressing various stages of productivity and providing support.
“We customise the onboarding materials to align with the preferred learning styles of our new hires, employing interactive and visually stimulating resources such as concise videos and interactive Q&A sessions. “
Adobe ANZ HR director, Nidhi Chopra said being named the number one best under medium-sized workplace in Australia by Great Place to Work is a testament to the company’s focus on staff.
“We are proud to have developed and sustained a culture that ensures we have access to the best talent who sees a long and bright future with Adobe, especially when skills shortages have been a constant challenge within the industry,” said Chopra.
Adobe has a strong focus on personal development, which includes the opportunity to build connections, finding passion and purpose, and giving back, Chopra said. In addition, the company is committed to global pay parity.
Employees have access to a stock purchase plan, wellbeing platforms such as LifeDojo and Headspace, a generous vacation policy, and 26 weeks of paid parental leave for the primary caregiver and 16 weeks for the nonprimary caregiver.
“We’ve seen the power of giving our employees time throughout the year to stop, disconnect and recharge. Since the global pandemic, we’ve added six global wellbeing days a year. This is an important part of employee wellbeing.”
Information Technology company Kasada placed at number nine under the small business category. Head of People and Culture, Lizzie Creed said high care and empathic leadership is deeply ingrained in Kasada’s culture.
“We believe in providing consistent support and offering complex, interesting and impactful problems to solve that inspire and enable every Kasadian to reach their full potential. Our focus is on creating a nurturing environment where everyone can thrive.
As a growing organisation, Creed said retaining staff is paramount.
“It’s critical that we find and keep the best talent. Without our amazing people, we simply wouldn’t be able to deliver upon our vision. We are deeply invested in fostering a culture that not only values the work we do, but also prioritises our people and how they want to work.”
“Before their first day, we want to make sure they feel fully prepared and excited. This includes swag delivery, a new hire guide, and fresh equipment. After onboarding, we kick off our Accelerate program, structuring the first 90 days of their journey.”
“Each new Kasadian has the opportunity to meet with our founder and CEO, for a coffee catch up, they are also paired with a ‘buddy’ so that they’re being checked in on personally as well as professionally.”
Kasada provides gender neutral parental leave, unlimited employee assistance program (EAP) available to staff and their families, along with an employee stock ownership plan.
“We offer new employees an inclusive and collaborative environment. We are truly flexible in how our employees manage work and time,” Creed added.
Queensland sales and marketing agency, EFCOMM hit the number one spot on the Great Place to Work list for the micro business category, the agency has 27 employees.
EFCOMM sales and marketing manager Barrett Kennett said sales is a daunting profession and only suits a certain percentage of workers. A critical part of recruiting individuals is to make sure their values align with EFCOMM’s vision.
“Upfront our vision is very clear when we’re hiring. We employ people who, before they even start, love our business – being sales – and that they like the way we operate. We make sure we select people who fit our culture and vision,” he said.
“We want to be the best personal development firm for people who want to be successful. We use this vision as a way to get the right people in. We provide training systems such as, learning how to lead, becoming more resilient and handling pressure.”
Kennett said the key to retaining staff is to not impede their path.
“We offer a lot of progression with many staff moving into leadership quickly. Importantly, we like to have fun. We don’t do Groundhog Day here, we like to keep things fresh; this could be having a theme day or bringing in a speaker – this really helps with younger demographics.”
EFCOMM pays their staff a salary and is not commissioned based as with other sales companies.
“We trust our staff to do their job, and they deliver. It’s essential that they’re growing in their role, whether it’s a promotion or at the very least their skills are improving. We genuinely care about people and steer clear of those who are narcissistic or selfish, which can come with sales.”