July 2021 – Best Workplaces™ 2021 : how to make your workplace a great place to work

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With just days to go before the 2021 list of Australia’s Best Workplaces™ is revealed, I want to take a step back to last year and explore the themes that emerged from last year’s list.

Many of these themes are relevant today of course. Much of Australia is once again in lockdown, and the lessons we were only just beginning to learn when last year’s list was released are now deeply embedded in our day to day lives

Not least of these lessons was that we are in this together.

If COVID-19 taught us nothing else, it reminded us that we are stronger when we stick together as a community.

It taught us that we need to trust in each other.

It taught us that culture and camaraderie are more essential and more profound concepts than the birthday parties and Friday night drinks that characterised our old office lives.

These themes are echoed in what we saw from the 2020 winners.

The global tech giant Cisco was the winner of the large categoryperhaps an apt winner in hindsight as its core products provide the internet connections that many of us spent much of the year using to connect.

But it was not Cisco’s networking products that made it Australia’s best large place to work, it was the firm’s global vision of a culture of inclusion that it has deliberately and carefully built over years.

At Cisco Systems Australia, 93% of the 1300-plus employees said it was a great place to work compared to 55% of employees at a typical Australia-based company.

Cisco shines as an example of how corporations can act to make the world a better place by putting ‘making the world a better place’ at the heart of their business activities.

In the medium category of 100 to 1000 employees, Interactive, the cloud- and cyber security-technology provider took the top spot With a mission of keeping technology human, 92% of Interactive’s 600-strong team said it was a great place to work.

And among the smaller companies cohort, SC Johnson took the prize. The century-old, family-owned maker of household cleaning and pest control products has long had a mission to do what’s right for its people and for the planet. Among its small Australian team, that singular focus translated to employees saying that, taking everything into account, it was a great place to work, driven by purpose.

But that was last year.

Since we released the 2020 list, much has changed.

The pandemic has become a fixture in our lives and – as a planet – we are slowly starting to learn to live with its effects.

Business has operated over the past 12 months in the face of repeated government shutdowns, on-again off-again work from home orders and border closures that have conspired to disrupt supply chains, reduce labour mobility and constrain supplies of critical inputs.

More than 700,000 people had died from COVID-19 around the world when our list was released last year.

A year later, as this newsletter goes to press, the death toll is now a numbing 4.1 million.

The scale of loss is unimaginable, and we must pause to reflect on the toll.

As we emerge from this global tragedy it is critical that we hold on to the principles that got us through it – founded on trust and inclusion.

Next week, on August 4 at 11am, I will be releasing the 2021 list of Australia’s Best Workplaces.

This year’s Best Workplaces have truly risen to the challenges of 2021.

And they did so by putting their people first.

The Best Workplaces of 2021 have not only survived the trials of the past year, but they have seized the opportunity to be better and deepen their commitment to both their workforce and their chosen purpose.

I  look forward to sharing the list with you.

Great Place to Work® has published the definitive annual list of the best places to work in Australia since 2008.  Join the celebration as we unveil Australia’s 2021 Best Workplaces List. 

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, philanthropic 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.**