Let’s talk about a fun topic today, the ultimate dream: the best place to work!
Nowadays, specific certifications and ratings are released regularly and present some organizations as being best place to work. It is now proved that these best place to work perform 2 times better than the general market, and that they regroups employees that are happier, more efficient and more engaged.
There is no secret, and the idea in this post is not to check on these ratings to compare the companies practices, even if we will talk about some of them. I simply want to share 6 criterias that are regularly listed as criterias of a best place to work. And as you will notice it is much more than just giving free snacks or having a funny “start’up like” innovation room.
1- Having a stimulating environment of work
The first criteria that is usually evaluated is the environment of work. It has to be organized to make the life of the employee more simple and at the same time creative and effective. What does this mean ? It means that the environment of work provides a positive atmosphere to work in, challenging and stimulating and that the company also help the employee in his everyday life. Employees are considered as key as the customers (remember the famous book “Employees first, customers second” from Vineet Nayar on this topic) and therefore the environment of work is organized around creating a safe place to work, that foster creativity and innovation. Some of the best place to work provides specific open working areas, creativity space, co-working rooms that allow to develop an enriched environment of work.
2- Positive social relations at work
A second criteria is that social relations in best place to work are usually more fair, relaxed, positive and team oriented. One difference between best place to work and other companies is that the mission of the best place to work is not solely placed under the burden of its financial statements, but is oriented around a more societal purpose that provides a different relation in the work of the teams that are all working for the same mission, which is in a sense bigger than the organization itself. This implies that decision making is organized around a mix of strategic, tactical, societal and human criterias, which are impacting the relations of employees to their work.
It also means that in terms of management, the emphasis is put on collaboration, long-term focus and positive coopetition rather than competition, which creates a different mindset of “working together” which is often a value of these best places to work.
3- Enriched content of work
Another aspect that best places to work do differently is the way they enrich the content of the work of their employees and how they give their employees the opportunity to enrich the content of their work.
The work is not seen as a certain amount of tasks to be fulfilled to achieve an objectives and a certain performance (does this remind you any experience ?). It is seen as an accomplishment, that is evolving at the same time than the market of the company and its missions are evolving. It means that the content of work is never fully fixed or rigid. There are missions, objectives, performance criterias of course, but the employee has a certain flexibility in the way he will achieve it.
The employee can also propose to enrich the content of his work, based on his experience, and have some time to reflect on it. To sum up, everything is done, even in the management practices to make the work more diverse, engaging and stimulating.
4- Agile organization of work
Best place to work also provides a more flexible organization of work that is built on confidence and team work. One example is Google that has reviewed the work of 200 of its teams to identify what made them to be outstanding performers. They discovered 5 dynamics that made these teams to perform well which are: psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity in the job expectations, meaning (sense of purpose) and impact of the work done.
The study they did is available here and it is interesting to identify that it is not who is in the team that count the most, but more how the team work and in fact how agile it is.
5- Promoted access to learning
Providing opportunities to learn, not just legal obligations to fulfill is key in the learning dynamic of best place to work. The employee is seen as a resource to develop, to grow, in order for him to achieve his full potential. The access to learning is definitely something best place to work do better than other companies.
It can be done in several ways. Usually they have one or several internal universities as well as a learning campus, and provide both management, leadership and on the job training programs. But this is not the only learning opportunities they provide. They also let an autonomy to the employee to decide on his next development step. Some companies even propose tuition reimbursement for employees who decide to take additional classes in external universities. And more than anything, best places to work promote social learning, which means that they also develop peer coaching, reverse mentoring and the development of communities that allow the employees to share their knowledges and grow together.
In a world where learning is widely available in various forms, the best places to work take a full advantages of learning opportunities to nurture their workforce. To me this is the key to a real employee development.
6- Balance between professional and personal life
Last but not least, I know we talk more and more about the “one life” concept in which professional and personal life are mixed, but best places to work still propose a real balance between profesional and personal life. As an example, at Google again, 96% of employees reported to be able to take time off when they think it is necessary (source: http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/google-inc).
A more concrete example is that best place to work provide one or many of the following services: concierge services, free breakfast/lunch, vehicle maintenance, banking support, discount ticket, dry cleaning, fitness, massage, transportation, family care programs, health care programs and much more.
Personally I believe that companies that will provide an healthy work environment to their employees in the future, especially on these 6 criterias, will be better prepared to adapt to the mutation of the world of work that arise and will probably be able to adjust their mission with this new context of work, while developing their Human Capital and their employees.
If you are looking for reference on this topic, I would invite you to look at the following links which I find very useful to understand what the best places to work are doing differently: