People & Human Resources

Getting on best places to work lists: Four moves your business can make to be an employer of choice

Carly Greenwood /

Attracting and retaining the best talent is something every small business owner strives for. It’s one of the reasons businesses like to see themselves appear on lists that feature the best places to work.

Factoring in the hard recruitment costs, the cost of training someone new, the loss of productivity during vacancy and onboarding and termination costs, employee turnover can cost businesses up to 12 months of a person’s salary. It’s a cost most businesses can do without.

So, what is it that makes good people hang around? How do you make your business “the best place to work”?

1. Implement unlimited annual leave

For Kronos Australia, which appeared at number 17 on the 50 best places to work in Australia in the over 100 employees category, unlimited annual leave is just one of many carrots the employer offers its employees.

“It’s all about that trust,” Kronos chief executive Aron Ain told The Australian earlier this year.

“Obviously they can’t all go at the same time. But we trust them to get their work done.”

Kronis says after 2016, the first full year the company had the policy, each employee took on average an extra 2.5 days of leave. “And we had the best year we ever had,” he said.

2. Encourage health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing is a big feature of the Great Place to Work list, with 74% of businesses on the list providing healthy snack options for their staff, and 88% of companies having bike racks to encourage cycling to work.

For medical technologies business, Stryker, number one on the list in the over 100 employees category, staff wellbeing is a priority.

According to the 2017 50 Best Places to Work report the company has a campaign designed to make it easy for employees to participate in activities to support their health and wellbeing.

Each team member at Stryker is also empowered to make their own choices and structure their hours to suit their lifestyles.

3. Facilitate a work-anywhere policy

Design and ecommerce startup, Envato (number 12 for employers with more than 100 staff), employs a “work from anywhere” policy that allows all staff the opportunity to work away from the office. And this policy isn’t just about working from home; if employees wish to take time to work from Paris they are more than welcome to do so.

“Any employee can work up to three months a year in any country they would like,” said Envato’s human resources manager Amber Johnson at the Australian Chamber’s Mobile-ising Women in Business event in Melbourne in August.

“We’ve had over 25 people take this up, it’s absolutely loved by our employees and really has minimal to no cost,” she says.

4. Don’t just offer flexible work arrangements, seek out those who want it

A buzz term from back in 2015 continues to endure – and that might be because it’s here to stay.

The Physio Co, a company that has enjoyed nine years running as one of Australia’s best places to work, finds that flexible work has enabled them to draw from a bigger pool of talent due to their flexible work policies.

In a SmartCompany webinar last year, The Physio Co founder and chief executive Tristan White – who works from home two days a week himself – said, “one of the advantages of having a flexible workplace is the pool of potential recruits. We’ve found we have such a bigger pool to attract people from”.

There’s an additional payoff for employers here: when you offer people work that suits their lives and needs, you’re providing an additional currency to the remuneration process, which can be of benefit to startups and small businesses that can’t offer a big salary.  

“Bringing in that additional currency can be very, very valuable for an employee.”

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Carly Greenwood

Carly Greenwood is SmartCompany's content marketing manager.

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