The 6 Elements of Great Company Culture

Claire Hastwell

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Claire Hastwell

Author

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The secret to attracting and holding onto the world’s best talent isn’t about the perks—it’s about relationships.

With 98% of employees saying that Cisco is a great place to work, it’s no wonder that it’s the number one company on the 2020 World’s Best Workplaces™ list. But Cisco isn’t on the list because it takes perks to new highs.

In fact, it’s not about the perks at all. The fact is that Cisco gets glowing employee engagement survey results because the company is doing a lot of things right.

For one, Cisco has developed a strong culture of service over the years. Employees around the globe get the time and resources to help their local communities.

While some might worry that the time away from the office is distracting, service programs are proving to have a positive effect on business results. Cisco stock has risen above $50—its highest point in 20 years.

CEO Chuck Robbins says the business boost is fueled by doing the right thing, because employees everywhere are fired up to work at a company they’re proud of.

Looking at an example like Cisco might seem intimidating — after all, they’re a huge company with vast resources to devote to creating a great company culture, and not all businesses have that.

Here’s the good news: fostering a positive company culture doesn’t mean you have to mimic Cisco. There are numerous things you can do to improve your company culture.

Our data shows that great workplaces focus on these six areas:

Six elements of great workplace culture

1. Community

At Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®, employees express a sense of winning together when times are good—and sticking together when times are tough.

Top features separating the Best Workplaces from other organizations include:

  • Celebrating special events
  • Sharing profits
  • Treating layoffs as a last resort

The importance of unity extends to giving back to the community, which we see at Cisco, Salesforce and many other Great Place to Work-Certified™companies. Unity and community also create conditions for better employee cooperation.

2. Fairness

Humans place a high value on fairness. Companies where employees feel like everyone is getting a fair opportunity consistently report more positive employee experiences.

Fairness is an area that the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® excel at, as our workplace study revealed. When rating equal compensation and recognition, employees score these companies 37-42 percentage points higher than the national average.

Employees at these companies also report issues with favoritism and politicking far less often. On employee surveys, these companies score 38 percentage points higher when asking their people about these experiences.

Surprisingly, fair pay isn’t the factor that most impacts employees’ overall workplace satisfaction and intent to stay. Other, less tangible aspects of the workplace, such as pride and strong leadership, play a much larger role.

Employees say that being paid fairly for their work makes them twice as likely to think their workplace is great. But when employees are proud of their work, they are 20 times more likely to say it’s a great workplace.

3. Trustworthy Management

Employees at Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® find their people managers and leaders to be more trustworthy: According to our research, 83% of employees at the 100 Best Companies said management’s actions match its words, versus 42% of employees at the average workplace.

Trustworthy, credible and personable managers have a significant positive impact on:

  • Employee retention
  • Overall workplace satisfaction
  • Employees’ willingness to recommend their company
  • Motivation to give extra effort at work.

When employees say managers are honest and ethical, they’re 5 times more likely to want to work there for a long time, and 11 times more likely to think the workplace is great.

4. Innovation

When managers create a safe environment to express ideas and make suggestions, employees are 31 times (!) more likely to think their workplace is innovative. Workplaces that have innovative cultures inspire employee loyalty, confidence and willingness to give extra.

Employees at innovative companies are 4 times more likely to say they’re proud to tell others they work there, 9 times more likely to think their company is a great place to work, and 4 times more likely to give extra to get the job done.

5. Trust

We all know this: show people that you consider them trustworthy, and they’ll generally prove you right.

Many of the 100 Best Companies trust their employees to work flexible hours and from remote places. This flexibility makes employees more dedicated and engaged because they feel trusted to meet their business goals in a way that works for their life.

Many companies today even offer unlimited paid vacation and let employees work from anywhere; strong employee relationships prevent people from abusing the policy.

6. Caring

Every company says it values employees. The 100 Best Companies don’t say it; they show it.

This year, for example, we saw exceptional support for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

DHL went beyond physical safety to ease employees’ minds during the pandemic. For example, the company sent motivational messages to employees through their package scanning devices. It also offered virtual yoga classes and facilitated meditation sessions.

 

Get more insights from the global authority on workplace culture

We also see maternity leave practices improving, and milk shipping benefits are becoming more common.

By thoughtfully investing time and effort into these six areas, you can show your people that you care about them, improve employee experience, and put your company on a path to creating a great company culture.

Claire Hastwell

As the Content Program Manager at Great Place To Work, Claire helps decode the psychology behind high-trust workplaces using Great Place To Work’s extensive data repository on employee experience. Claire has co-authored noted reports such as “Women in the Workplace” and “The Power of Purpose at Work,” and contributed to Fortune with her profiles of the Best Workplaces™. Her latest report on employee retention strategies draws on the experience of 1.3 million employees to give leaders strategic guidance on retaining their top people. 

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Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2024 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Micro 10-29 Employees
  • Small 30-99 Employees
  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work determines the list using our proprietary For All methodology. To determine the Best Workplaces in Technology list, Great Place To Work analyses the survey responses of tens of thousands of employees from Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the technology industry.

Our survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organizational data like size, location, industry, demographics, roles, and levels. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience.

Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. Survey data analysis and company-provided datapoints are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience for all employees in this industry.

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™ and nominate as a company in the technology industry.

We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, news, and financial performance, and investigate any employee reports of company incompliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces for Women™ List Methodology

The Best Workplaces for Women™list is determined using Great Place To Work’sFor All™methodology to evaluate hundreds of Certified™Great Place To Work®organisations across Australia.   

Data is based on over 40,000 employee survey responses from women in Great Place To Work® Certified™ organisations across Australia. 

The survey 

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organisation’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a 5-point scale and answering two open-ended questions. 

Collectively, these statements describe a great employee experience, defined by high levels of trust, respect, credibility, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. In addition, companies provide organisational data like size, location, industry, and the number of women in the workforce and management positions. 

Considerations 

Great Place To Work analysed the gender balance of each workplace, how it compares to each company’s industry, and patterns in representation as women rise from front-line positions to executive/C-suite roles. 
Survey data analysis and women’s representation figures are then factored into a combined score to compare and rank the companies that create the most consistently positive experience and opportunities for all women, regardless of their role or demographic background.   

Eligibility   

To be considered for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™. Companies must also employ at least 50 women. We require statistically significant survey results, review anomalies in responses, and investigate any employee reports of company in compliance with strict surveying rules to validate the integrity of the results and findings. 

Please note this list is NOT ranked. 

Great Place To Work® Best Workplaces™ in Australia 2023 Evaluation Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Best Workplaces™ Australia 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of almost 50,000 employees across Australia.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organisation creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organisation, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyse these experiences relative to each organisation’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organisation to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

 

Categories

These organisations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

For larger organisations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organisations to share with us their practices, policies and programs to creating a great workplace For All™ and evaluating the approach they take.

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:

1.  The criteria we evaluate

2.  Where the data comes from