Creating a great workplace environment

With its red slides, nap pods and endless free swag, Google might have forever changed the game as to what a great workplace can look like.

However, despite technological advances and an ever-evolving variety of employee perks available to Australian employees, elements that constitute a great workplace remain unchanged.

It seems that no matter how much a workplace may resemble a playground, employees’ most important criteria for workplace satisfaction are still fundamentally like any relationship: purpose and trust.

Zrinka Lovrencic, Managing Director of management consultancy Great Place to Work Australia, regularly deals with the cream of Australia’s workplace crop, creating the yearly report Australia’s Greatest Places to Work.

For over 30 years, and through research with three million employees annually, the Great Place to Work Institute has been studying the factors that make a workplace attractive.

“We gather information from the best to see what they’re doing and how the market changes,” she says. “As a consulting firm, we help companies transform their workplaces”.


Happy workplace environment

What elements of your workplace make it a great place to work?

Past lists of great workplaces have included a wide variety of businesses, products and services, including Australian software company Atlassian, digital marketplace Envato, and cosmetics brand MECCA

Lovrencic explains the common attributes of great workplaces and the most important steps a business needs to take to create one.


Attributes that make a great workplace

According to Lovrencic, all companies are different, yet all great workplaces demonstrate the following:

1. Trust exists between the employer and employees.

2. The company and its employees have pride in the work done.

3. The company places a premium on purpose: everyone feels like they’re contributing to something great.

4. Employees enjoy the company of colleagues.

5. The company values employee welfare.


How to instil those attributes in your business

1. Communicate the company mission.

“Companies often do a poor job of helping their employees see the big picture,” Lovrencic says.

Communicating the employee’s role within the overall mission of the company is vital to turning any workplace into a great workplace.

2. Communicate the company goals.

Nothing brings an employee on side like sharing strategic goals and how the business is progressing to achieve them.


Sharing a team strategy in the workplace

Sharing strategic goals gives teams a sense of ownership for the entire business’ success.

3. Communicate the company values.

Every company has values, and instead of paying them occasional lip service, they should be communicated every day, and in everyday language.

“The best companies live their values,” says Lovrencic.

How do they do that? “It has to be a top-down approach – it all comes down to leadership.”

“Employees should feel they’re actually contributing to something, but that can’t happen unless leadership makes that happen.”

Once you’ve gotten these right, start measuring up the office for the red slide.

The 2016 list of best places to work in Australia can be found in the Australian Financial Review and on the Great Place to Work Australia website.