Great Place To Work® is a pioneer in studying and recognising the best workplaces around the world. For more than 30 years and in over 60 countries, Great Place to Work has been conducting studies to understand and recognise the best workplaces.
Its study in Sri Lanka is based on the global model and a rigorous methodology, which has been researched, tested and carried out in similar studies around the world – including the Americas, Europe and Asia.
This model applies across all geographies, industries, and types and sizes of organisations, as it primarily measures the hygiene factors of trust, fairness and respect, which are considered the requisite foundation on which to create a ‘Great Workplace.’
FIRST STEP The first step to being recognised as a great workplace is to voluntarily undertake a paid assessment with a view to being certified and opting to participate in the ‘Best Workplaces’ study.
While all organisations undertaking the Great Place to Work assessment have the opportunity to be certified upon meeting global standards, participants who submit their results to the Best Workplaces study and meet the global grades will additionally be considered for inclusion in the list of the ‘Best Workplaces in Sri Lanka’ each year.
To qualify for the national Best Workplaces study, an organisation must have 20 or more employees and be a registered entity in Sri Lanka for two or more years.
TWO LENS MODEL The Great Place to Work Model considers organisations from two perspectives: the employee perspective – whereby the employee’s perceptions of the workplace experience are averaged using the Trust Index© survey; and the manager’s perspective – to evaluate the culture of the organisation, and practices established by management for which the Culture Audit© tool is used to measure intent and quality of interaction with employees.
TRUST INDEX A unique employee centric framework is adopted to measure the levels of trust (viz. credibility, respect and fairness), pride and camaraderie that exist in an organisation through the Trust Index survey, which is a proprietary employee feedback tool developed by Great Place to Work.
Comprising 56 statements and using a Likert scale, the universal instrument measures employee experience through the five dimensions of the Great Place to Work model. Another five statements – customised to suit Sri Lanka – have been included to capture the local context and other cultural nuances.
Administered in multiple modes – i.e. online, paper, pencil or kiosk depending on the organisation’s requirements – the survey is available in all three languages.
A rigorous methodology for maintaining anonymity is followed so that individual responses cannot be tracked by organisations participating in the survey. This provides employees with an opportunity to provide candid feedback on the organisation and corroborates the credibility of the assessment.
Through two open-ended statements, the tool also captures employee comments about what makes their workplace great and what would make it better. And it encourages employees to submit their opinions and suggestions through anonymous responses.
All organisations that participate in the study are evaluated and selected primarily on the basis of their employees’ responses to the Trust Index survey, which carries two-thirds of the weight in the overall score.
CULTURE AUDIT The manager’s perspective – as well as practices established by management – are measured by a proprietary tool and evaluation framework called the Culture Audit. This is a comprehensive questionnaire in which the organisation submits detailed material on the practices it has adopted, which are subject to rigorous evaluation.
This instrument helps gauge not only an organisation’s structure, demographics, compensation and benefits, but also its philosophy and values, and the manner in which they’re integrated into their people practices. The remaining third of the overall score is derived from this Culture Audit.
PARTICIPATION For organisations that employ between 20 and 200 people, all employees are selected to participate in the survey by default to be considered for the first step of certification.
Organisations with 200 or more employees have the choice of everyone participating or a stratified sample of randomly selected employees undertaking the Trust Index survey.
Sample selection is performed statistically by Great Place to Work systems. The eventual sample, which has a confidence level of 95 percent, is dependent on the total number of employees from the full list of staff members working in the organisation.
EVALUATION To maintain the accuracy and validity of the study, stringent audit processes are followed during and after completion of the survey. In addition, communications by the organisation to its employees are templated and pre-approved to ensure that the authenticity of responses isn’t compromised.
The Trust Index survey scores are tracked and an audit requirement is triggered whenever abnormal trends are observed in the employee survey scores. There have been instances of employee opinions being solicited in a controlled environment if required – especially where the audit team has felt the need for further verification of employee survey data.
Furthermore, as Great Place to Work uses the two lens model that evaluates both employee perceptions and established practices, it can relate employee feedback to identify practices that may not be in effect, or are inaccurate or not implemented, which triggers a separate verification and audit of the practice itself.
There are also examples of organisations that have been disqualified from the process or not been considered for listing because they didn’t adhere to the standard survey process established and accepted by Great Place to Work globally.
Maintaining and enhancing the rigour of the study is the topmost priority at Great Place to Work, which prides itself on upholding this process.
TRUST IN THE PEOPLE
Great Place to Work® presents key insights derived from its study on the Best Workplaces in Sri Lanka for 2020
Great Place to Work® is considered a global authority on high trust, high performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools and advisory services based on over 30 years of research, Great Place to Work provides the benchmarks, framework and expertise needed to create, sustain and recognise outstanding workplace cultures.
Sri Lanka is one of the 60 plus countries that contribute to the largest global study of its kind, which continues to validate the standard for being a ‘Great Workplace.’
STUDY IN A NUTSHELL The eighth consecutive annual study in Sri Lanka surveyed a sample of over 46,000 employees at a response rate of 84 percent, which represents a population of more than 69,000 employees.
A total of 135 organisations across 20 main industries registered for the study. Selecting the list of Sri Lanka’s 40 Best Workplaces for 2020 and the analysis to derive insights presented herein were conducted using this sample data.
As more organisations understand the benefits of a High Trust High Performance CultureTM, participation in the study has increased over the years from 30 registrations in selecting Sri Lanka’s 15 Best Workplaces in 2013 to 135 registrations to select the 40 Best Workplaces in Sri Lanka this year.
Moreover, the study has witnessed repeat participants continuously improve positive perceptions of employees in their organisations year on year through efforts that strive to create and sustain a great workplace culture.
The momentum created by this combination has led to 75 organisations meeting the global thresholds and being certified as great workplaces during this study cycle.
Therefore, in line with providing more opportunities for recognition among Sri Lankan organisations, the list of Best Workplaces was increased to 40 that represent the cream of the crop. Maintaining an improved Trust Index average among the Best Workplaces over the years is a testament to the quality of the list being preserved.
A ‘Great Place to Work’ is based on three key relationships whereby employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and feel a sense of camaraderie among those with whom they work. A great workplace is one that sustains a high trust culture.
BEST WORKPLACES When the workplace experience was collectively averaged through the Trust Index©, employees of the 40 Best Workplaces asserted 85 percent positivity.
These employees also rated the pulse statement of ‘taking everything into account, do you believe your organisation to be a Great Workplace?’ with an average 89 percent positivity. This represents a one point increase compared to 2019 for both data points.
According to Great Place to Work research, a positive gap of five to 10 points between the pulse and collective perception indicates a healthy workplace, as it reflects a bond that employees have with the organisation over and above the daily experience.
The 40 Best Workplaces have consistently maintained a positive gap. Whereas the gap was decreasing as the positive perception regarding the daily experience of employees improved annually, it has settled at a healthy four point difference in the last two years.
Five dimensions are central to building trust and creating a great workplace culture: credibility of management, respect for the individual, fairness in the organisation, pride in work and camaraderie among colleagues.
Pride (88%) continues to be the highest scoring dimension for which employees of the Best Workplaces are very vocal – by way of comments on pride in the organisation’s brand, story, culture and achievements.
Compared to the average score for Asia’s Best Workplaces, this is the only dimension on a par with that of the region; camaraderie (87%) follows closely behind with a one point difference.
Fairness (82%) remains the lowest scoring dimension with employees being sensitive about elements such as equity and impartiality. Although this trend in dimension scores is matched by global and regional workplaces, Sri Lanka’s score is three points lower – the largest gap – than that of Asia. On a granular level, the five lowest scoring statements in the study relate to fairness with a specific focus on compensation and performance management.
Interestingly, some of the highest scoring statements are also related to fairness although restricted to those on non-discrimination with regard to religion, race or caste and gender. As with the overall dimension scores, statements on camaraderie and pride derive the best results.
The analysis also reveals key drivers of employee perception – areas that are highly correlated with the overriding perception of a great workplace. Although these key drivers change from one organisation to another and can vary across consecutive years, they’re significant in that they provide an understanding of correlation and clear direction that organisations can take to improve their overall scores.
Across the 40 Best Workplaces in Sri Lanka for 2020, these areas reflect the importance of addressing fairness as a key culture dimension while also demonstrating that employees place importance on career growth, as well as management competence and behaviour.
DEMOGRAPHIC HIGHLIGHTS Following the trend from previous years, the overall positive perceptions of males and females among the 40 Best Workplaces are equal (85%).
This is a promising result in a region where gender equality – especially in the workplace – has caused considerable consternation. A more in-depth look at the areas measured reveals that the perceptions of the genders vary – but not by much.
The main differences relate to perceptions regarding manager favouritism (-5%) and pride in making an impact (-4%) where females are less positive compared to males. The largest gap by which women are positive (3%) is for celebrating special events in the workplace.
Notably, the study participation indicates that only 31 percent of respondents are female (which is proportionate to the workforce balance of these 40 organisations) and although this is a four point increase from 2019, there’s room to reach the national average of 35 percent women in the workforce.
When analysing the average perceptions of age groups among the 40 Best Workplaces, 26 to 34-year-olds continue to be the least positive (81%) and most critical with their scores for every statement in the study being the lowest.
This is noteworthy given that they represent 37 percent of respondents among the Best Workplaces and is composed solely of millennials. Millennials highlight fairness as an area of concern, and camaraderie and safety in the workplace as key points of appreciation.
BEST VS THE REST While non-discrimination, physical safety, pride in the organisation and a friendly workplace are areas of the study with the highest employee perceptions, they’re common strengths for both the best and the rest.
Therefore, it is important to understand the areas in which the Best Workplaces notably outperform others.
The key differentiators between the best and the rest are represented by the dimensions of credibility and fairness. Manager reliability and impartiality, as well as fair promotions, remain the lowest scoring areas of the study for both the best and the rest.
As the best are on average 15 points ahead of the rest in these areas, these are clear separators that offer the best a competitive advantage. However, it is heartening that this gap has contracted by four points from 2019, indicating that the rest are steadily bridging the gap in a positive step towards making Sri Lanka as a whole a great place to work.
As the list includes 25 repeat list makers, it is also notable that the best have demonstrated continuous improvement in these areas over the years. This confirms that continuous remedial action and dedication to improvement is resulting in better results over time.
A fundamental question that arises when comparing the best with the rest is whether managers play a role in differentiating the workplace experience.
Scrutinising the nine areas of people manager capability measured by Great Place to Work affirms that the answer is ‘yes,’ managers of the best (84%) garner an average of 14 points higher employee perceptions in contrast to the rest (70%). Of these areas, the strongest differentiators were observed to be that of performance management and collaboration.
Among the 62 statements measured in the Trust Index survey are five that are of greater significance as they indicate the health of the work environment, looking at motivation, discretionary effort, retention, pride and advocacy. These reconfirm the health of the Best Workplaces, averaging 10 points more when compared to the rest.
Overall, the 40 Best Workplaces (85%) maintain an average 12 point lead over the rest (73%) in the 2020 study. Both sets of organisations have witnessed an increase in average employee perceptions compared to the previous year. Notably, the average for the rest has increased by more, thereby reducing the average 14 point gap in 2019 by two points.
In comparison to last year, the largest gaps have also reduced by about four points each. This highlights the fact that competitors are continuously working to catch up, and it is up to the Best Workplaces to continue raising standards in new and creative ways.
Great Place to Work’s mission is to help organisations become great workplaces – an outcome that is better for business, people and the world. No matter where you are in your journey, you’re invited to join in and contribute to achieving the vision of making Sri Lanka a great place to work.
FOOTNOTE For more information on how to begin your journey in creating a great workplace, contact 4545594 (or visit www.greatplacetoworksl.lk).
The Great Place to Work® category awards recognise organisations that demonstrate excellence in specific areas of people management that contribute to the primary goal of instilling a great workplace culture in Sri Lanka.
Organisations that best fulfil the criteria under consideration are acknowledged under four award clusters: Excellence in People Initiatives (three selected practices), the Cube Awards for Special Recognition (two selected areas), Organisation Size and Classification, and Laureates (organisations listed for five years in a row).
EXCELLENCE IN PEOPLE INITIATIVES
Great Place to Work in Sri Lanka considers the Excellence in People Initiatives recognition as an opportunity to build awareness and inspire best practices that support in building and maintaining a great workplace.
Front-runners in these categories score high in both people practices (two-thirds of the final score) as well as their respective employee perception scores (a third of the final score).
Great Place to Work’s research over the last 30 years has characterised nine practice areas that an organisation’s managers must focus on to generate an impactful employee experience that engages employees and offers them an advantage over others.
The three practices selected for this year’s awards are of particular relevance to areas that can be better managed within the Sri Lankan workplace culture to foster superior employee engagement – viz. inspiring employees, providing for employee wellbeing and aiding in professional development.
EXCELLENCE IN INSPIRING EMPLOYEES
Inspiring contributes to motivating employees in achieving organisational objectives as well as the cultural integration of new employees. It helps people understand how individual and team work relates to the organisation’s higher purpose and corporate success. Moreover, it encourages people to interact in ways that foster organisational values.
The Best Workplaces attract and hire people who are inspired by organisational values and purpose, which gives more meaning to daily work. Thereafter, a variety of methods are used to connect an individual’s contribution to the organisation’s success and positive impact on society, as well as the individual’s own strengths and aspirations.
One such method is by communicating the ‘right stories’ to employees. For example, Godrej Properties designed a yearbook titled ‘Our Brighter Side,’ which was devoted to employees with an exemplary attitude. The objective was to inspire people with stories about colleagues who have made a difference and demonstrated the expected behaviour.
EXCELLENCE IN EMPLOYEE WELLBEING
Organisations can ensure employee wellbeing through an assortment of systems and programmes that create a caring environment for individuals and their families.
The Best Workplaces enable employees to balance work and personal lives. They also support employees in times of significant life events or crisis by displaying concern, and responding to employee needs over and above providing competitive benefits. The key to work-life balance is facilitating flexibility in working arrangements. Supporting involves gift-like interactions that are not charity but a process of co-creation to achieve collective self-help.
Benefits such as maternity and paternity leave, childcare benefits and job protected leave, as well as facilities such as health clinics and gyms, provide great balance. Additionally, funds for funeral expenses, medical insurance and loan schemes are noteworthy signs of support among great workplaces.
For example, Avery Dennison (India) partnered with a digital healthcare application to connect employees with medical professionals who can address problems related to physical as well as emotional wellbeing.
EXCELLENCE IN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
This practice revolves around fostering a learning environment that provides opportunities for employees to discover and nurture talents and interests, and grow professionally as well as personally.
Development among the Best Workplaces goes well beyond training for job roles, focussing on learning and growth, and job fit based on employee strengths and aspirations.
This is best done in the form of on-the-job training, feedback for improvement, personalised training and mentoring through an integrated individual development plan. Organisations can encourage internal job postings, cross divisional exchanges, tuition reimbursements and promotions from within to provide professional development opportunities.
However, employees should take accountability for their development, which can be facilitated by their managers and organisations.
Genentech has a comprehensive ‘Commercial Career Pathing’ initiative providing employees with a clearly defined success profile for each position including relevant job descriptions, consistent expectations for selection criteria and competencies for hiring and performance, and training suggestions, as well as assessments for identifying potential lateral and promotional moves.
CUBE AWARDS FOR SPECIAL RECOGNITION
BEST IN FAIRNESS
Fairness is one of the five dimensions of creating a great workplace and a cornerstone of trust. It measures the extent to which employees feel that management practices are fair by assessing the equity, impartiality and justice perceived in the workplace.
A sense of equity is conveyed through balanced treatment for all people in the distribution of intangible and tangible rewards. Manager impartiality is displayed through an avoidance of favouritism in practices such as hiring, promoting and interpersonal interactions like assigning tasks, as well as an absence of politicking in the workplace.
Justice is a lack of discrimination based on personal characteristics (e.g. gender or religion), and the presence and utilisation of a fair process for appeals.
An environment that supports fairness enables people to focus on making their best work contributions rather than spending time on distractions such as prejudice, politics or defending themselves personally.
BEST WORKPLACES FOR GENERATION Z
Not to be categorised with millennials, generation Z has its own perspective on success in life and the workforce. Gen Z is generally accepted as a demographic group born between 1996 and 2015, and part of the present workforce in the ‘below 25 years’ age bracket.
However, variation in exact definition exists. According to Sri Lanka’s latest labour force survey, approximately nine percent of the active labour force consists of gen Z employees.
Work-life balance and personal wellbeing are top priorities for gen Z. Benefits such as paid time off, activities that encourage a healthy lifestyle and lower stress levels are valued along with managers that demonstrate care.
Growing up in times of widespread misinformation, gen Z are sceptics, and appreciate authenticity and transparency especially from organisational leaders. They expect open top-down communication that is directly delivered to individuals – preferably by way of video through their mobile devices. Expectation setting and two-way dialogue through feedback is also important.
Gen Z are digital natives exposed to not only social media but multiple office productivity and collaboration tools. Utilising such technology in the workplace is expected.
This generation also seeks positive relationships and interactions with the world. Organisations should live up to being responsible global citizens. Internally, mutual respect and recognition between coworkers, and leadership that create a sense of ‘like-minded people,’ are essential to motivate gen Z employees.
CATEGORY AWARDS BY ORGANISATIONAL SIZE AND CLASSIFICATION
ORGANISATION SIZE (EMPLOYEE STRENGTH)
The complexities and challenges of maintaining a great workplace culture for all employees vary with the size of the employee population.
Organisations ranked among the three best in class in their respective employee strength category (Small Organisations of less than 200 employees, Medium Organisations of 201 to 750 employees, Large Organisations of 751 to 1,500 employees and Extra-Large Organisations of over 1,501 employees) are felicitated through this cluster of awards.
This includes the top MNC and PLC in Sri Lanka. The leading multinational corporation as well as public listed company in Sri Lanka have been selected on the basis of the highest combined score in terms of employee perception through the Trust Index© survey and people practices with the Culture Audit©.
Creating and sustaining a great workplace is a journey. It takes a continued focus and dedication to a cause. Organisations that have demonstrated a proven commitment to employee engagement and people management by gaining a place in the list for five consecutive years are recognised as Laureates among the Best Workplaces.
The following organisations join the list of Sri Lankan Laureates this year: McLarens Holdings, MHE – Licensee of Federal Express, NOLIMIT and Softlogic Life Insurance.
BEST WORKPLACES IN ASIA
The Great Place to Work annual study of Asia’s Best Workplaces recognises great workplaces in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East. More than 1,300 organisations are considered, representing the voices of over 2.2 million employees across eight countries. The list recognises the 75 Best Workplaces that fall under the categories of 25 Best Multinational Workplaces in Asia, 25 Best Large Workplaces in Asia, and 25 Best Small and Medium Workplaces in Asia.
Nine organisations operating in Sri Lanka have been recognised in the Asia list for their dedication to sustaining high trust cultures for all their employees.
They are DHL (Keells), MHE – Licensee of Federal Express and Weligama Bay Marriott Resort & Spa in the Best Multinational Workplaces in Asia list; Fashion Bug, Gamma Pizzakraft Lanka and Certis Lanka Security Solutions in the Best Large Workplaces in Asia list; and 99X Technology, Oxford College of Business and Expack Corrugated Cartons in the Best Small and Medium Workplaces list.
FOOTNOTE Winners in each category will be announced at the Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka Awards Ceremony 2020.