The majority of companies on the 10th annual list of the 50 best places to work from research institute Great Place to Work Australia are focused on keeping their workforce moving, whether that’s through exercise or regular global travel.
Businesses on this year’s list range from fitness and food brands to some of the country’s most revered technology exports, but despite the wide range of sectors they cover, there’s a consistent focus on diversity, flexibility and staff health.
Half of the organisations that made the cut this year have “compressed work weeks” throughout the year, while three quarters of them are focused on engaging with the community, offering staff paid time off for volunteering work.
Meanwhile, a massive 88% of companies have bike racks and say they encourage cycling to work.
The annual report is compiled through surveys of 60,000 staff from 150 organisations, with workers asked to reflect on a range of categories including their employers’ policies on diversity, flexibility, family leave, health, performance indicators and salary arrangements.
Companies that topped this year’s list are running programs to help staff connect socially well beyond their workplaces. For example, at technology darling Atlassian, which came in this year at number three for the best workplace with 100 or more staff, its “Sydney Atlassian Expats Social Club” is a program that helps engage and support staff and their families after moving from overseas to take up roles at Atlassian’s Australian headquarters.
Challenging the status quo
Design and e-commerce startup Envato is no stranger to lists that highlight companies with great culture, and comes in at number 12 on this year’s list for employers with more than 100 staff.
The company was recognised its focus on connecting different teams within the business through programs like the “Sprint Secondment”, where team members can join another part of the company for a two-week period to leverage their expertise.
Speaking at the Australian Chamber’s Mobile-ising Women in Business Event in Melbourne yesterday, Envato’s human resources manager Amber Johnson explained the company’s culture wass built from questioning the status quo, then putting a lot of planning in place.
She explained Envato’s entire setup is based on interrogating everyday expectations about how a business should run, asking questions like “do [workers] need to be in an office? Do they need to be in at certain times?”, and then creating the best fit to get the job done.
The company employs a “work from anywhere” policy that allows all staff the opportunity to work away from the office, while its “work and travel” policy allows staff to leverage travel opportunities and catch up with family overseas, Johnson says.
“Any employee can work up to three months a year in any country they would like. 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.
While the company might make the setup look easy, the reality is that building a culture based on flexibility involves doing significant legwork first.
“It wasn’t all based on instinct,” Johnson explains, reflecting that simple tasks like remembering to give remote staff the opportunity to speak in meetings is a skill that has to be built up.
“We had this blow-up doll and we would bring this blow up doll to meeting rooms, to remind everyone in the meeting room that there are other people there that you can’t see,” Johnson explains.
These days, the doll isn’t needed for meetings and instead hangs out in the Melbourne office, with staff now properly trained in the art of connecting with others remotely.
“This behaviour is really ingrained into our culture now,” Johnson says.
The 50 best places to work in Australia in 2017
More than 1000 employees
1. Mars Australia
2. Mecca Brands
4. Campbell Arnott’s
5. Marriott Hotels and Resorts Australia
More than 100 employees
5. Nous Group
6. The BlueRock
7. The Physio Co
8. NetApp Australia
9. Summit Homes Group
10. Adobe Systems
11. Nova Group
15. OMD Australia
16. Starlight Children’s Foundation
17. Kronos Australia
18. AbbVie Australia
21. SAS Australia
23. Jetts Fitness
24. Autodesk Australia
25. Mercendez-Benz Financial Services Australia
Under 100 employees
1. Avenue Dental
2. Intuit Australia
11. Bluefin Resources
12. Altus Consulting
13. 4Mation Technologies
14. The Works
16. SC Johnson and Son
18. Wavelength International
19. i2C Design and Management
20. Sitback Solutions