Australia’s best places to work: who’s on top and how they got there

BRW has named financial services company, Optiver as the top business in its the 2013 BRW Best Places to Work list, a year in which big brands are noticeably absent from the top five.

The BRW Best Places to Work top five:

  1. Optiver (financial services and insurance)
  2. Atlassian (information technology and software information)
  3. NetApp Australia (data management)
  4. Salesforce (information technology and software)
  5. The Physio Co (health care services)

 

The winner was chosen after more than 179 workplaces were reviewed nationally, taking on board feedback from more than 25,000 employees. 33 workplaces from NSW featured on the list, Victoria featured 11, Queensland came in with three, the ACT recorded two and Western Australia secured just one. No workplaces from South Australia, the Northern Territory or Tasmania featured on the list.

Optiver has kept its people happy by teaming new recruits up with a ‘buddy’ to help them learn the ropes, offering ethics training and making a real effort to cut ‘red tape’ and bureaucracy for its employees.

Work places who were perceived as being good listeners and building trust from the top with leaders who were both visible and accessible featured heavily on the list.

BRW editor, James Thomson says, “The interesting shift in the Best Places to Work list this year has been that smaller companies have fared really well, and employees are telling us that atmosphere and the work itself are key.

“For example, something as simple as giving prominence to the shared experience of eating – whether it’s for a special event such as celebrating the national day of staff from different cultural backgrounds, a regular Friday afternoon catch-up or simply to take a brief pause from the day’s work – shows how companies are seeing past the perks to focus on building real relationships.

“Pool tables and stand-up desks are nice, and frequently used as a perk by companies on the list, but they won’t change the way a company engages its staff.”

The economic downturn has also had an effect on bigger companies with job losses and redundancies impacting employee morale. However, some companies that have experienced redundancies – like surfwear giant Quiksilver – still managed to make the list because they have handled the challenges of job losses with ‘open communication and engagement with staff’, as well as a ‘commitment to help exiting employees with outplacement services’.

Companies were also found to be spending more time ensuring they are securing the right people for the job at the recruitment stage. BRW reported that the cost of a bad hire is estimated to be at least 3.5 times the cost of that person’s salary, economics are dictating a need to avoid hiring mistakes.

From the small details such as clothing allowances and the latest technology, to discounts on mortgages and giving employees a stake in the company – the real key to creating a happy work environment is in ‘customisation’.

Employers who featured in the list appeared to have a range of options to attract and retain staff, for example, having the option to work from home, offering flexible working hours and working spaces. There was also flexibility around training and personal development.

 

Image: pcruciatti / Shutterstock.com