The key to leading a company through uncertainty and creating a great place to work is over-communicating and making yourself as accessible as possible to employees.
That’s one of the insights Insentra co-founder and chief executive Ronnie Altit has gleaned from the coronavirus pandemic, which has fundamentally changed how companies, both in Australia and globally, look after their workforces.
Insentra, an IT service provider headquartered in Sydney, has once again been named among the best places to work in Australia.
Produced each year by research institute Great Place to Work Australia, the 50 Best Places to Work list features Australian and international companies that have been ranked based on employee surveys and an evaluation of the employers’ policies and procedures.
This 13th annual list is based on surveys of almost 40,000 Australian-based employees from 124 companies, conducted between September 2019 and June 2020.
According to the research institute, a great place to work is one “where you trust the people you work with, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with”.
Insentra has featured on the list for five years running, and this year is the top-ranked Australian-owned company in the ‘under 100 employees’ category. The company came in second in the category, after US manufacturer SC Johnson & Son.
Also featured in this category are recruitment firms Morgan McKinley and Beaumont People, as well as LogMeIn Australia and eBay Australia.
Australian IT provider Interactive leads the category of employers with between 100 and 999 staff, and is joined by prominent startups Canva, SafetyCulture and Envato. Also in this group are payments provider BPAY Group, tech company Mantel Group and Intuit Australia.
Prominent IT and software companies also featured in the list of employers with more than 1000 employees, including Cisco, which took out the number one spot.
In a statement, Ken Boal, vice president of Cisco Australia and New Zealand said taking out the top honour was a “proud moment” for the company.
“We’ve improved our results by listening to our employees and improving our workplace culture — through increased transparency, trust, and our greater purpose to power and inclusive future,” he said.
Rounding out the top five employers with more than 1000 employees are Salesforce, SAP, Mars Australia and DHL Express.
“Culture is at the top of my list”
Insentra employs 54 people, all of whom have been working remotely since early-March when Altit and his team decided to close their Sydney office.
While the business has some employees in the US and UK who have always worked remotely, Altit tells SmartCompany the shift to working from home will be somewhat of a permanent one for the 10-year-old business.
“We’ve continually surveyed the crew … and we continue to survey them, to ask what do they want to know,” he explains.
“The majority still want to come into an office, maybe one or two days a week, but they prefer working remotely because it’s more convenient and they’re more efficient.”
“We will be predominantly a remote business moving forward, with an office where we will bring people together when we can,” he adds.
As the leader of the business, Altit says his attention over recent months has been firmly on his team’s happiness.
“Culture is at the top of my list as CEO, it’s the number one thing I focus on,” he says.
For Altit, this means “over-communicating” and being as transparent as possible about the implications of the pandemic for the business and the individuals who work there.
Insentra has been able to retain all of its employees during the crisis and is “doing okay” in terms of its financial position, Altit says.
“Our focus as soon as it happened was to keep as many people employed for as long as possible,” he says.
Looking after those employees has involved a “whole bunch of things”, says Altit — from weekly cooking challenges to an ‘iso fit’ health challenge and virtual trivia, the focus has been on activities that “keep the crew motivated and keep them in touch with each other”.
While Altit reflects that his management approach hasn’t changed during the pandemic, the way in which he personally keeps in touch with team members has.
“I’m a lot more focused now on pinging people at different levels of the organisation just to say hi,” he says.
When working together from the office, it was easy to strike up casual conversations with employees and check in with them. Now, Altit says he makes a conscious effort to strike up those ‘water cooler’ chats, even virtually.
“I’m trying to make myself as accessible as possible to everyone,” he says.
Weekly ‘45 minutes with Ronnie’ team calls also provide an opportunity for employees to ask questions, or simply banter with each other, he says, and Altit makes a point of finding out what he needs to know about his team, “good or bad” in weekly leadership meetings.
“We’re hyper-vigilant that if someone is happy and doing well, they know we know. And if someone is not happy or doing well, they also know we know,” he says.
“It’s the mental health I’m most focused on.”
Here are the 50 best places to work in Australia
More than 1000 employees
- Mars Australia
- DHL Express
Between 100 and 999 employees
- BPAY Group
- OMD Australia
- Mantel Group
- Intuit Australia
- Starlight Children’s Foundation
- North Construction & Building
- Nova Group
- Coleman Greig Lawyers
- Corin Australia
Under 100 employees
- SC Johnson & Son
- Morgan McKinley
- Beaumont People
- LogMeIn Australia
- EBay Australia
- Lundbeck Australia
- Recovery Partners
- Invest Blue
- Green Building Council of Australia
- Macquarie Cloud Services
- Beam Suntory Australia
- Bluefin Resources
- Fitness Playground
Read about all the employers on the list here.