“Far beyond the norm”: What the winners of Australasia’s best workplaces do differently

Amantha Imber

Inventium founder Amantha Imber. Source: supplied.

Over 40% of the global workforce are considering leaving their employer this year, according to research just released by Microsoft. That’s nearly one in every two people. 

Yet, we know from research by Gallup that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their less-engaged peers by a whopping 147% in earnings per share.

Creating an amazing employee experience matters when it comes to the bottom line.

In the 2021 Australian Financial Review BOSS Best Places to Work list, top ranking workplaces showed several key differences compared to their less aspirational counterparts. The annual list is judged by my behavioural science consultancy Inventium, which ranks Australia and New Zealand’s best workplaces across ten different industries.

Employees are encouraged to work smarter, not longer

People at Australasia’s best workplaces have far more balanced lives. Compared to the top 10 best places to work, employees at the bottom ranked 10 organisations were 2.7 times more likely to check their emails after hours. In addition, they were 2.5 times more likely to feel they have no control over the hours they have to work.

We all know that flexibility matters, but these results show that the best workplaces genuinely practice flexibility. In addition, they have different expectations around staff genuinely being able to switch off at night.

Many of the top-ranking organisations had a huge focus on flexibility through granting extra leave days to help staff deal with the stress of 2020. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which was awarded the Most Outstanding Practice – Employee Flexibility, provided staff with an additional 10 days of paid leave in 2020.

While the worst of COVID is hopefully behind employers, it pays to think above and beyond the statutory requirements when it comes to providing staff with more flexibility.

It’s not just gender diversity that is embraced

Australasia’s best workplaces value gender diversity: the top 10 best performing companies were twice as likely to have a female chief executive compared to the bottom ten.

In addition, diversity of thought and embracing different points of view are more likely to be embraced by managers at the best workplaces.

Compared to the top 10 best workplaces, employees at the bottom ten were 2.5 times more likely to have a manager who criticised viewpoints that were different from their own. Staff at the bottom ten were also three times more likely to feel like their contributions were not valued or respected by their team.

Many of the top-ranking organisations are embracing technology to help reduce bias within their recruitment processes.

For example, SixPivot, which was awarded the Most Outstanding Practice — Diversity & Inclusion, conducts blind technical code puzzle assessments so that team members do not know the background of individuals completing the assessment in the first round of their recruitment process. In addition, many of the top-ranking entrants use gender-neutralising technology to reduce gender bias in job advertising.

If your workplace isn’t currently using software to help reduce or even eliminate bias from the recruitment process, consider looking into it to diversify your candidate pool and, ultimately, who you choose to hire.

People feel like they “fit in”

We all know that inclusion is critical for engagement, but there are big differences between the top 10 ranking workplaces and the bottom ones. Staff at the bottom ten workplaces were 1.5 times more likely to feel like they don’t really “fit in” where they work.

At PWC, which topped the Best Places to Work — Professional Services list, a “Leading Inclusive Teams” program is in the process of being rolled out to all 8000 employees. The program aims to teach and embed everyday behaviours around feeling comfortable expressing their unique point of view and building a sense of belonging within teams. So far, employees have reported feeling more comfortable speaking up, in addition to improvements in psychological safety.

Australasia’s best workplaces go far beyond the norm to provide an amazing experience for staff. 

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