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The best places to work all have this one thing in common

The Great Place to Work Institute just revealed its list of top companies for workplace culture in Australia. We spoke with one of the winners to find out what it takes to be one of the best places to work.

It’s pretty easy to tell when workplace culture isn’t right. What’s harder to pinpoint are those factors that make employees jump out of bed in the morning, already dressed and prepped for their day at work. This year’s list of 50 best places to work from the Great Place to Work Institute highlights some companies in Australia that are doing this well.

The institute’s co-founder Robert Levering defines a great place to work as one where “you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do and enjoy the people you work with.” Additional factors include achieving organisational objectives, level of team collaboration and employee productivity.

The ninth annual list is based on surveys of nearly 52,000 employees from 135 companies, conducted between October 2015 to July 2016. Each company also underwent an evaluation by Great Place to Work Institute of its policies and procedures, and the list is generated based on how well a company stacks up against the criteria.

Each list is split into two categories: 25 companies with fewer than 100 employees, and 25 with 100 employees or more. Both lists this year were dominated by companies specialising in software development and information technology. Salesforce came in first place on the 100-or-more list, and Rackspace Australia took top spot on the list of companies with fewer than 100. 

Honourable mentions go to retail, financial institutions and professional services providers, with a few health care, biotech, manufacturing and media companies scattered throughout.

How do you become one of the best places to work?

For eight years in a row, IT software company SAS has appeared in the top 25 best places to work list for companies with more than 100 employees. Brendan Gregor, HR director, says that much of their success stems from a culture of trust and mutual respect – a common theme throughout all of the winners.

One way SAS does this is by reinforcing constant feedback, open communication and transparency.

“When the survey results come out, we don’t hide them from the rest of the organisation,” Gregor says. “It’s their results, and the only way we’ll continue to be a great place to work is if employees are part of the solution.”

In previous years, lack of communication was one of the issues raised by employees through the Great Place to Work survey. As a result, the company improved its regularity of communication, the CEO made himself more accessible and each of the departments promote and share what they are doing with the rest of the company.

Another area they identified for improvement was training and development. Many of the companies that made the list place emphasis on developing employees: 90 per cent provide subsidies to encourage continuous education, and 96 per cent offer individual development plans. All this adds up to an average of 124 hours of on-the-job training for employees in the top 50.  

“We found we weren’t fulfilling people’s training and development needs, so we partnered with an external career coach to help employees progress based on a career development plan they create with their manager,” Gregor says. “We want people to grow and feel like they are getting the best. This in turn will help us as a company grow.”

And when requests were made for more flexible policies, SAS listened. For example, Gregor says employees wanted amendments to the dress code, so they changed it to ‘dress for your day’. “Our view is that you know your day ahead, so just make sure you dress appropriately for it. It’s a trust and respect policy, really.” The company also has a number of flexible working options, such as additional service leave and 40 weeks maternity leave.

That trust between employer and employees is one of the core tenants of the organisation.  

“Many of our initiatives are leadership led, and our approach has been on making sure there’s a strong foundation for everything we do,” he says. “It’s not about grabbing people’s attention, but embedding the change in what we want to achieve and how we want to evolve as a company.”

The full list of the 50 Great Places to Work in Australia can be viewed here.

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G Davies
G Davies

Congratulations to those businesses who were winners but I think it is a bit rich to claim out of sample of just 135 companies that these are the best 50 places to work in Australia, come on AHRI make it real, do your own survey and find the real “best of the best” places to work in Australia. One has to question the creditability of the survey and sample group, is it just being used to drive a commercial outcome to drum up more business for the institute? Is the HR community really that gullible?

Amanda Woodard, Editor HRM
Amanda Woodard, Editor HRM

Hello G
I had wondered how many companies were involved and, when I searched, couldn’t discover the number.
Curious how you found out it was 135?
I agree, if that figure is true, it isn’t a resounding endorsement. Will pass on your suggestion to AHRI.
Thanks for contributing


The article above states “The ninth annual list is based on surveys of nearly 52,000 employees from 135 companies”


I am amazed that AHRI continues to support this poor excuse for real research by re-releasing this topic on its social media.
There are 729,777 companies in Australia, to take a sample size of just 135 companies and then announce from this “here are the top 50 companies in Australia” is ridiculous.
As a body trying to lift the standards and profile of the profession AHRI itself needs to lift its own game and show a bit more independence in its support and assessment of such programs.
Does AHRI has a commercial relationship with the provider?

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