Research Insights from Great Place to Work® – A decade of building trust with employees


Numerous studies have shown a link between employee engagement and productivity. Many others have shown an impact of workplace culture on employee engagement. Investing in improving workplace culture hence, goes towards improving employee and organizational productivity. However, what elements of workplace culture should one invest in?

Through the largest study of workplace cultures since the last 10 years covering over 9 lakh employees from over 2500 unique organizations in India, Great Place to Work® Institute takes stock of the key developments that have shaped up our workplaces over the decade gone by.

Which are the areas where workplaces have improved the most in the last one decade? We identified four areas:

1.     From employees to profit partners

Chinese telecom giant Huawei employs 180,000 employees serving clients in 170 countries. It enjoyed a net revenue growth of 32% in 2016. The most amazing thing about Huawei, though, is the fact that it is a private company wholly owned by its employees. Its founder, Mr. Ren Zhengfei himself holds only 1.4% of company’s total share capital and over 81,000 employees are involved in the Employee Shareholding Scheme. The most noteworthy development of the last decade, though, is that stock options have moved beyond being a privileged benefit reserved exclusively for the top management personnel to being a shared benefit enjoyed by employees at all levels.

2.     Equal opportunity for recognition

The best workplaces have made maximum gains in appreciation for good work and extra effort, and responding to reasonable queries from employees in a frank and honest manner to promote transparency in recognitions

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Public Sector Organizations like Indian Oil, have also now institutionalized a practice of releasing the Performance Appraisal Ratings to the individual officer. Coming a long way from the earlier culture of concealed performance reports, this initiative has led to a more responsible environment where appraisers are expected to provide objective and justifiable ratings.

3.     Career growth and inter-functional movements

Career Opportunities is the one of the top two factors that drive employees to feel that they are indeed working in a great place to work. This makes career growth a crucial aspect for employee engagement. It has been observed in a study by EY that while 43 per cent organizations encourage cross-functional movements, they face a challenge due to lack of acceptance by employees and resistance from superiors in making it a success. To enhance the basket of opportunities available for career progression and role enhancement, it is important to provide opportunities for horizontal cross-functional role changes. The success of such internal transfers depends on the welcoming and encouragement provided to the moving employee in the new team or work unit.

4.     Candid communication and giving straight answers

In a recent Study by us, conducted across more than 1.6 lakh employees working across 500 organizations in India, reveals that one of the key drivers of employee engagement is candid communication.

Trust is often built when leaders share bad news openly and admit to decisions which could have been better, instead of sharing only good news. Information which is not shared openly often becomes grapevine fodder, often fuelling uncertainty and loss of faith.

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Transparency is the topmost factor that is critical for ensuring a fair working environment, as per a survey conducted across HR leaders of the best workplaces of 2017. Organizations should focus on establishing forums for structured information sharing and direct channels for seamless communication. It is equally critical to help people managers understand the importance of communicating candidly and train them in the requisite communication skills. SAP Labs India runs a series of electronic communication called “Why we do, what we do”. The intent is to educate employees about the reason behind doing certain things and running certain initiatives, especially when a new policy is rolled out to employees.

The best workplaces have made the most progress on the above four areas in the last decade. How do you rate your Organization in these four parameters?

Prasenjit Bhattacharya

CEO, Great Place to Work® Institute,India



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