Knowledge centre

What can we learn from the 2015 ‘best employers’?

The 2015 ‘Best Employer’ lists from both job-search site, Glassdoor and media entity, BRW Magazine, reveal that the best places to work aren’t only within technology companies.

Until recently, such lists were typically dominated by technology, software and digital media companies. Whilst these still garner a strong showing, it’s companies from healthcare, consulting, consumer goods, retail, finance and construction who are vying for the top spots.

In Australia, BRW’s list indicates the best employers come from a broad variety of industries and locations, each with its own unique culture. BRW found that not one company culture is like another’s on the list, reinforcing the need to take into consideration the needs and desires of employees when planning programs and policies to foster engagement, loyalty, high trust and productivity.

For more than 30 years, BRW’s ‘Great Place to Work’ program has been evaluating employers and listening to thousands of employees. The key defining characteristic of any great workplace, it says, is TRUST. Irrespective of geographic location, industry, or company size, BRW’s research indicates that trust continues to define great workplaces.

BRW also says it is not the “perks” of the job that are most important (although they obviously help). Whilst employees may appreciate in-office massages, hot meals and dry cleaning services, it’s ’how’ managers behave that fosters loyalty, commitment and engaging work cultures.

The Glassdoor  list supports these findings. It found that, ultimately, it is companies that actively – and transparently – communicate their mission and values to employees that fare best on the list. The best companies typically have very solid cultures; employees are very clear about what their employer is in business to do and are united around that mission.

Whilst companies such as Google, Facebook and Qualcomm consistently appear in the top 20, the broader industry list for 2015 suggests more and more companies are borrowing some of the additional compensation methods associated with the technology and media industries, such as free food, paternity leave and better overall support for families.

Google, who this year, topped the Glassdoor list, implemented a number of major initiatives to support work-life balance and families. These initiatives included increased maternity and paternity leave, and reworked on-site day care.

And for those companies who think they don’t have the resources, budget or high paying jobs to compete with the majority on both lists, think again.

Fast food chain, In-N-Out Burger makes the Glassdoor list this year at number eight, joining the top 50 for the second time in three years after falling off in 2013. Though the majority of their jobs offered pay only minimum wage, the company places a strong emphasis on development. According to Glassdoor, the focus on career development and opportunities is exactly what people taking this type of job want. In-N-Out Burger understands that few people plan to do their current job for the rest of their life and are instead seeking growth. By understanding the needs of its employees, the company has tailored its culture to deliver this outcome.

The message? No number of employee perks will build you a loyal, committed, engaged and productive workforce in the long run without a focus on leadership behaviour. Companies that consistently appear on Best Employer lists communicate constantly and transparently around a clear mission and values. Put simply, the ‘what’ you do in business is just as important as the ‘how’.