Trust Matters Navigating Uncertainty: The Power of Leadership

Valentina Lwin Bailey

Author

In a time when fruit bowls and yoga classes have become synonymous with workplace wellness, it’s clear that the demands on leaders have evolved far beyond the ordinary. Amidst evolving challenges prompted by economic conditions, post-pandemic catch up, supply chain disruptions, the advent of AI, digitalisation efforts, the urgency for change and speed becomes imperative. Employees look to their leaders for direction and stability, intensifying the pressure on leaders to successfully navigate both operational demands and people responsibilities.  

The observations from Australian Great Place To Work Certified® organisations reveal that the essential qualities for effectively navigating these challenges and simultaneously cultivating flourishing workplaces are rooted in the behaviors of the leaders.  

The 2023 Australia’s Best Workplaces, unveiled on the 17th of August in Sydney, paints a vivid portrait of leaders who rise to this challenge, transcending ordinary gestures to forge a legacy of integrity, engagement, empathy, and camaraderie. What sets these 90 Best Workplaces (AU Best1) apart from the rest is their leaders’ strong integrity and unwavering commitment to deliver on promises, engaging meaningfully with employees, cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect and building a true sense of camaraderie. This insight is based on the Great Place To Work® Trust Index™ Survey responses representing almost over 110,000 employee voices across different industries in Australia.    

1. Walking the talk: Integrity in Practice

Leaders at AU Best uphold their commitments by translating words into actions. They recognise integrity is the key currency, and deliver on promises, adhere to company values, and demonstrate ethical behaviour. The survey findings reveal that AU Best Trust Index©2 soars when leaders show honesty, and when their conducts match what they say. A leader’s integrity is the cornerstone of a trustworthy workplace. 

An example of this is at Prospa, a leading fintech servicing Australian small businesses, dedicated to fostering a fair and inclusive compensation and benefits structure, they conduct annual salary benchmarking with a specialized remuneration consultant, which includes reviewing any gender-pay disparities. This has allowed their leaders to be fully informed about any inequalities and be transparent in rectifying any systemic biases. Embodying their core value of “One Team” to value and support diversity in their team, Prospa leadership recently endorsed an upgraded leave policy that better supports return-to-work parents and those on gender transition journey. 

Management's actions match its words.

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Management delivers on its promises.

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Management is honest and ethical in its business practices.

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Our executives fully embody the best characteristics of our company.

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Trust Index

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2. Engaging Employees: Purposeful Connection

Gone are the days of top-down decision-making. Employees today want a seat at the decision-making table. They seek collaboration with management to actively shape the organisation’s path. This isn’t just about having a voice; it’s about being heard and driving meaningful change. Inclusion isn’t a mere buzzword; it’s the essence of a progressive workplace. Challenging as it may initially appear, AU Best have indisputably demonstrated it is possible to achieve, with substantially higher scores compared to AU Rest. 

Jaybro Group exemplifies this purposeful connection when its Executives engaged employees to enhance community partnerships. Through an inclusive internal survey, all employees are encouraged to propose corporate partners aligned with the company’s values, fostering enduring and mutually beneficial collaborations that extends beyond financial contributions. This initiative empowered employees to contribute to a greater vision of the company, enabling them to be actively involved by volunteering and support in communities that resonate deeply with their interests and values.

Management genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas.

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Management involves people in decisions that affect their jobs or work environment.

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Management is approachable, easy to talk with.

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3. Nurturing Well-Being: Not Just An Employee

The era of pandemic-related support is behind us, but the need for care and understanding remains stronger than ever. With employees juggling work and personal responsibilities while grappling with the challenges of rising living costs, they’re seeking leaders to show genuine empathy and care for their individual circumstances, and extend a hand of support. The leaders who display sincere interest in their team members, recognise efforts for hard work and innovation, and foster psychological and emotional safety, emerge as trustworthy leaders. 

Displaying empathy for the financial challenges experienced by its employees, Marriott International accelerated the required 4.6% wage increase plan for 2,500 staff members, a full three months ahead of the industry-scheduled timeline. This thoughtful action not only boosted employee morale and eased financial strains, but also communicated a strong sense of appreciation from the company towards its workforce for their dedication during recent difficult periods for the industry. 

We celebrate people who try new and better ways of doing things at work.

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Management shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee.

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Management shows appreciation for good work and extra effort.

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This is a psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work.

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4. Fostering Camaraderie: Strong Workplace Relationships

Leaders at AU Best understand the importance of a healthy camaraderie in the workplace. They actively foster an environment where individuals relish collaborating, ensuring a sense of family-like closeness while enabling effective cooperation to achieve workplace excellence. Leaders make sure employees are warmly welcomed at initial joining, are smoothly transitioned when making internal moves and feel a sense of belonging at different stages of their journey with the company. 

At Carlisle Homes fostering strong workplace relationships start from the top. Notwithstanding the value of various communication and collaboration mechanisms, the priority for the leaders is to get involve by actively walking the floors and jumping in a car to spend time in all locations to stay close to the heartbeat of the business. This innate approach of the leaders has the not only strengthened the company’s identity and culture but also united the team, proving essential during challenging periods.

The data shows that such leadership behaviours enable a work environment where employees look forward to coming to work and have fun doing so. 

When people change work units, they are made to feel right at home.

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You can count on people to cooperate.

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People look forward to coming to work here.

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This is a fun place to work.

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The Path Forward: Leadership in Action

As we navigate through the ever-evolving landscape of leadershipthe traits of integrity, collaboration, empathy, and genuine interest in employees have emerged as the cornerstones of trust. These attributes are not just admirable qualities of contemporary leaderthey’re the key to fostering a high-trust culture where employees not only thrive but ignite company performance across all areas. In times of rapid change, it’s the leaders who translate words into actions, who actively engage and empower their teams, who extend a hand of understanding and care, and who cultivate an environment of camaraderie and strong bonds, that orchestrate workplaces where trust flourishes. By embracing these foundational principles, we navigate uncertainty not as a challenge but as an opportunity to create workplaces that transcend the ordinary, inspiring greatness and redefining success on a truly transformative scale.

Want to see how your employees are experiencing your workplace culture and how your company compares with the Best Workplaces in Australia for 2023Contact us for a demo on our proprietary Emprising™ survey platform to find out.    

1. AU Best refers to companies on the 2023 Australia’s Best Workplaces list. AU Rest refers to other companies, including Great Place To Work Certified™ companies, that participated in this year’s survey. Not all Certified companies appear on the 2023 Best Workplaces list.

2.Trust Index© – measure of level of trust employees experience at work across the five areas of Great Place To Work Trust Model: Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride and Camaraderie. 

Demographics

Valentina Lwin Bailey

Author

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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