Celebrating Australia’s Best Workplaces™ 2021 – hear from the winners

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The release of the Great Place to Work® list of the Best Workplaces™ in Australia last week saw a wide range of businesses make the grade as Australia’s best places to work, in industries as diverse as technology, healthcare, services and manufacturing.

But what elevated these companies above their peers?

And what makes the difference between an organisation with Great Place to Work-Certification™ and one with a place in the list of Best Workplaces?

We looked at the celebration videos created by the winning companies to draw some conclusions.

What stood out was the thankfulness that leaders expressed to their people.

Thankfulness is an important part of what makes a great place to work. In fact, management appreciation forms a key part of the Great Place to Work® Trust Model©.

At Australia’s Best Workplaces, 91 % of people agreed with the statement ‘Management shows appreciation for good work and extra effort’. This compares with 79% agreement across other surveyed organisations.

That statement also showed differences between Australia’s Best Workplaces and their global peers, where 82% of people in the World’s Best Workplaces™ agreed with the statement.

At DHL Express Australia, ranked second on the list of Best Workplaces in the large category, CEO Gary Edstein said it was “truly an honour” to be on list.

He thanked employees: “Our employees do an amazing job each and every day for our customers, each other and the communities we operate in,” he said.

“Thank you for being the superstars of the International Express industry.”

Owen Wilson, REA Group’s CEO, also thanked his employees for recognising the workplace as one of Australia best large workplaces.

“Knowing that this recognition has come from the voices of our people, as well as an in-depth review of our business, and total employee experience is what makes this acknowledgement especially meaningful for me.”

Ben Dawson, vice president Cisco Systems Australia, labelled placement at number one on the Best Workplaces list as a reflection of how people felt about working for Cisco.

“For Cisco, being Great Place to Work-Certified™ means that we have successfully been benchmarked amongst our peers on elements that we know make workplaces great,” said Dawson.

“Most importantly this Certification reflects how our people feel about being part of Cisco.”

Cisco took a simple approach to operating through the pandemic by asking employees to focus on caring for themselves, their families, their communities, their customers and Cisco’s business.

“And importantly, we asked them to do it in that priority,” said Dawson.

“We really put their safety, health, financial stability, mental wellbeing as our top priority.”

In the medium category, the expressions of thanks continued.

“During COVID times, tough times, we really centred our business to focus on a few things that really matter — to keep our team employed, to keep people safe, but also to keep productive throughout the last 12 months,” said Con Mouzouris, CEO of Mantel Group, which was ranked the number one workplace among medium sized companies.

“The message I’d like to give to our team is a massive thank you … I’m super proud of everyone’s efforts.”

“It’s never one person in Mantel Group, it’s always a team that collectively delivers on our promises as an organisation.”

BPAY Group’s celebration video celebrated its people first approach

“Our people first approach and passion to create an environment in which everyone can thrive is what sets BPAY Group apart. We put our people first, always,” said Lucy Lithgow, BPAY’s GM People & Culture.

OMD Australia CEO Peter Horgen called it a “tremendous honour” to be named a Best Workplace.

“We encourage our teams to develop without putting too much pressure on them. We’re family friendly, flexible, and we push our teams to pursue their dreams by advancing their careers,” he said.

Meanwhile, UKG’s Neil Solomon thanked the firm’s Australian staff: “It’s our firm belief that having a Great Place to Work creates happy employees, and in turn those happy employees facilitate fantastic customer experience.”

At Adobe Systems, vice-president Australia and NZ Suzanne Steele attributed the tech company’s place on the Best Workplaces list to a combination of people and purpose.

But she also noted the company’s innovative “global ‘Adobe Day’ off every three weeks to allow our team members to stop, reset and recharge”.

At The Recruitment Company, every single employee surveyed said it was a fun place to work.

But that’s not the reason the firm won the number one spot on the list of Best Workplaces with fewer than 30 employees, said Geoff Millar, the Recruitment Company’s CEO.

“You can spend lots of time on great offices, pool tables, beer fridges,” he said.

But “it’s the smaller things — like our communication style – that’s more important to us, and obviously clearly they are important to our team too. We obsess about making every message and processes as clear as possible.

“And it’s really simple – we treat our team, our company, our people like adults. And there is that shared sense of togetherness and success.”

At Bellroy, the blueprint was to foster a culture bringing your whole self to work, said chief operating officer Lina Calabria.

“Rather than fostering art or science, the head or the heart, we’ve wanted to nurture holistic approaches.

“Our team actively recruits diverse talent, and then works hard to build mutual respect and collaboration with these diverse perspectives.”

This people-first approach is also found at Melbourne construction firm Cobild, which was listed among the Best Workplaces in the small category.

“The very reason we do what we do is to enrich people’s lives. Being honoured year after year as a [great place to work] really reinforces why we are in business – our people,” said CEO Rotem Rotenberg.

This report looks at Australia’s Best Workplaces and how they thrived during the crisis of the pandemic. Download your copy to get unique insights into the workplace cultures that set the benchmark in 2021.

Re-live the awards ceremony and hear directly from the leaders of Australia’s Best Workplaces™. Characterised by high-trust and highly inclusive cultures, these workplaces seized the opportunity to become better and deepen their commitment to both their workforce and their chosen purpose.

Samantha Huddle

Samantha Huddle is the General Manager of Great Place to Work® in Australia and NZ. Sam has more than two decades of experience from the grassroots to the C-suite and helps businesses build high-trust, inclusive cultures that deliver tangible results. With experience across the government, for-purpose and corporate sectors, Sam brings a collaborative, values-driven approach and a passion for achieving social impact through business. Sam publishes a well-read monthly newsletter which can be read **here.**


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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.