An analysis of what makes good workplaces the best BY Prasenjit Bhattacharya

At Great Place to Work® Institute, we have studied thousands of mostly good workplaces that aspire to be great. Employees of these organisations talk about growth opportunities, a sense of pride, family feeling, relatively fair performance appraisals and equal treatment.

They also say that the management is competent in attracting talent and line managers provide consistent support to employees.

So what’s different about the best workplaces?

Here are some key aspects by which the best differ from the rest.

BUSINESS MODELS Organisations that are struggling with their business models are unlikely to be among the best workplaces. Startups without a strong business model find it hard to be among the best. The same applies to many legacy organisations that haven’t invested in challenging their old business models.

Before outsiders can sense whether a business is being run well or not, employees know the truth. Previously, an employee was seen as a cost. Today, leaders know that employees are internal customers.

For example, if revenue per employee is Rs. 10 million and costs amount to one million rupees, the company’s net revenue would be Rs. 9 million. You could divide all your employees into teams with net revenue and find that there are individuals or teams who bring more net revenue than your largest external customer!

The best workplaces know that managing employee expectations and delivering staff experience are as important as doing the same with customers.

SPEED MENTORING Currently, SAP Labs is the best workplace in India. It has a great practice called ‘speed mentoring’ where an employee can spend up to 15 minutes with a mentor and sit with up to four mentors during speed mentoring sessions. SAP Labs publishes the net promoter score or advocacy percentage for each mentor.

The best workplaces are obsessed with feedback and ensuring it is transparent. The average workplace on the other hand, tries to protect their leaders from negative feedback.

Many CEOs in the best workplaces use ‘culture dashboards’ to monitor continuous feedback from employees to predict business performance.

WEALTH SHARING Most business leaders want to create a high trust culture because it leads to sustained business results and shareholder wealth. When a ‘best workplace’ like Godrej Consumer Products talks about its philosophy of tough love, it is understood by all. But when owner Adi Godrej’s family decided to share their wealth liberally with employees (linked to the return on investment that the employees deliver), they did something extraordinary. This equitable distribution of wealth is one of the hallmarks of the best workplaces.

TECH LED EQUITY As more millennials enter the workforce, they seek to make a meaningful difference. The ohana culture practised by Salesforce is attempting to do just that. Their vision is to create an equal world with equal opportunities, rights, pay and access to education. This is not only about equality in their organisation but also the use of technology to lead to equality rather than the other way around.

What’s unique about Salesforce is that its commitment to equality goes far beyond the company and extends to active participation in the community in which it operates.