The more things change, the more they tend to stay the same. This famous adage has certainly been put to the test recently! Some days it seems everything has been upended and we are in some sort of never-ending wash cycle spinning round and round with barely a chance for a breath. But in those moments in between, there is indeed some clarity and what we’ve found for the most part is that what has worked in the past to create successful work cultures, still works today and is actually more important than ever.
That’s the part of the change cycle that has stayed the same. And the companies that did the best job rooting down into their core values and helping to provide stability amid the chaos, emerged strong and vibrant. The Best Workplaces™ in Canada did just that and they doubled down on what our decades of research tell us actually matters – trust, respect, purpose and community.
These workplaces continued their focus on people. They listened attentively to what people want and need to feel safe and secure amid the turmoil around them. This provided a level of protection that allowed their people to focus on work and not be consumed with worry about all of the moving pieces around them.
These Best Workplaces also put their words into action. They didn’t make lofty promises or give away quick, easy perks. They understood that people want long-term solutions and solid practices that make a lasting difference to the overall quality of their work life.
They also know that life at work is one aspect of living a high quality life overall. The Best Workplaces chose to focus on balance and wellness and they took a holistic view of what they can to do make life easier for their individual employees, their families and their communities.
The result was a workforce that stayed, that adapted, and that thrived. We’ve heard some of the mass-exodus stories that resulted in people leaving their organization, their profession or even the workforce completely. Because these Best Workplaces stayed in touch with their people and pivoted as necessary, the changes they introduced were positive and responsive and they progressed the employee-employer relationship.
89 percent of employees at the Best Workplaces are proud to tell others they work here.
88 percent of employees at the Best Workplaces say Management trusts people to do a good job without watching over their shoulder.
89 percent of employees at the Best Workplaces say their manager shows appreciation for good work and extra effort.
What specifically made the difference within the Best Workplaces, and what can you start doing to have the same effect?
Trust your people to tell you what they want. Engage with them regularly. Stay on top of what they are looking for and ask serious questions.
That’s precisely what organizations do when they participate in our process. And as we analyzed the data that revealed the Best Workplaces in Canada for 2022 we recognized the following four themes:
If the pandemic had any upside it was the increased focus it brought to creating and maintaining balance. With the lines between work and home blurred to near obscurity, flexible work became the norm – and it’s a normal that is here to stay. Organizations are getting creative, offering many different flex options, and putting workers’ needs first in so far as operational needs are able to be met.
82 percent of employees at the Best Workplaces feel encouraged to balance their work and personal lives.
88 percent of employees at the Best Workplaces are able to take time off when they think it’s necessary.
For many positions the typical 9-5 is not necessary. Nor is working exclusively from an office space. The hybrid work model, where employees are split between in-office and remote locations, has been avidly embraced at the Best Workplaces and is very well received by employees as they redefine their relationship with work. Long-standing norms around vacation entitlements and days off are quickly fading away and being replaced by generous (and even unlimited) vacation days, personal days, and flex days.
Self-examination has been on the rise lately and the Best Workplaces are helping their people grow their careers and find purpose and fulfillment through a wide range of professional development initiatives. Programs that empower people to try new paths, gain new experiences, and enjoy meaningful responsibilities through unique projects and positions are gaining traction. As is providing a broad range of opportunities including working from different countries and even working remotely from a global location.
At the Best Workplaces, 82 percent believe they are offered training or development to further themselves professionally.
To encourage retention and maintain organizational knowledge, career succession is strongly encouraged. Many of the Best Workplaces proudly promote from within and have an abundance of internal success stories supported by strong career guidance, coaching, mentors, and resources to help people succeed professionally and create their best career.
We’ve known for a while that wellness is important for happy, healthy, vibrant employees. And the definition of wellness has been growing as stresses and pressures from a global pandemic combine with societal changes, political upheaval, and most recently geopolitical turmoil. The Best Workplaces focus on whole person wellness with programs that cover extended health insurance, provide virtual health services, include a financial wellness component, address mental and physical wellbeing, and extend these wellness benefits to family members as well.
At the Best Workplaces, 89 percent of employees feel their manager cares them as an individual and 86 percent feel good about the ways the organization contributes to the community.
These Best Workplaces also know healthy people thrive in healthy families and live in healthy communities so their commitment to their people doesn’t stop with a few perks and programs. They show their commitment for the long term and they invest in programs that enhance broader well being like encouraging volunteerism, getting involved in community events and understanding what their people are passionate about and then working to achieve goals together.
Employees at the Best Workplaces are encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work everyday. It’s really as simple as that! Employee Resource Groups and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging programs are part of the way great organizations support their people. Allowing people to work their best, be their best and bring their best means clearing obstacles, cultivating acceptance, and creating a culture that appreciates differences, celebrates success and builds everyone up so ALL are included in the company’s story.
At the Best Workplaces, 92 percent feel they are treated fairly regardless of their identity and 87 percent agree they can be themselves at work.
These organizations leverage their diversity to develop better ideas, encourage all voices, and create equitable opportunities for all employees to reach their potential, regardless of personal identities. They facilitate open and honest discussion throughout the organization and they confront their biases in an effort to do better for their people and to drive meaningful change within the community as well.
Our work with the Best organizations has shown that companies that take care of their people outperform the market; they are financial leaders and employers of choice. Let their example guide you on your path to creating a great workplace For All.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® makes it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Clients apply our insights, advice, and tools to fuel the vision, decisions and actions that drive business performance.
Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.