How a Great Place to Work Becomes Even Better: Part 1
When Adecco was first featured on the prestigious Great Place to Work® list back in 2014, we could have just congratulated our colleagues, drafted a press release and continued on as we were. While we certainly did celebrate – with streamers, stickers, a little champagne and a dedicated GPTW edition of Lēad Magazine – we quickly began working on how a great place to work can become even greater.
Well, a year and a half later – Adecco and our specialty brands Adecco Professional and Roevin Engineering and Technology – have once again been awarded a top ranking on the GPTW List of 2016, making us one of the best companies to work for nationwide. Further this year, Adecco was honoured as being the 27th Best Workplace for Women!
The Great Place to Work® Institute has been studying and identifying exceptional workplaces around the world for the last 25 years, and with more than 5,500 organizations surveyed every year, the program is the world’s largest of its kind and is the definitive list for the makings of an exceptional work environment.
Evidence is mounting that when a company cares about their employees’ perceptions of the workplace, it increases productivity, improves sales and aids in retention. But what exactly makes for a great work environment? We set out to survey our colleagues across the country in various roles and stages of their careers about what they value in their workplaces. The themes that emerged from their responses lead the GPTW Institute® to include Adecco on their 2016 list and also informed the list below. The lessons for employers are clear: give your staff a voice, help them to grow, allow them to give back and provide meaning in their day-to-day work.
“We have a lot of great leaders who are willing to provide support and help out whenever needed.”
In a global organization, leadership decisions can oftentimes be far removed from a company’s daily operations and can sometimes alienate employees. Transparency is critical to counteracting this. Sandra Hokansson, Adecco’s President and Country Manager, and other members of the broader Canadian Leadership Team keep their pulse to the ground by touring every branch in Canada at least once a year. When there, they focus on engaging with each and every team member – not just the managers – in an open forum to gather valuable feedback, listen to suggestions and learn about opportunities from those on the frontlines of the organization. When companies invest in leadership and transparency, everyone benefits. And that includes financial transparency – when staff can see the direct impact of their efforts and understand what makes their teams financially successful, motivation comes easily.
“The trust and support at all levels of the company and the open door policies show that your thoughts and actions are not only considered but that they are important to the success and growth of the company.”
No one wants to feel like just another employee in a large corporation. Staff need to be shown that they are individually valued and given opportunities for taking initiative in whatever role they hold. At Adecco, having an entrepreneurial spirit is part of our Core Values. To foster it, we look for employee involvement in decision making in everything from our group benefits plan and test pilots for new software tools to process improvements, operational efficiencies and even job titles for their roles.
We build leadership through proper support, training and opportunities that develop employee talents. New employees at Adecco receive thorough on-boarding and orientations that help them settle in and prepare them to perform their jobs successfully. Our national training team also arranges one-on-one coaching calls, video tutorials, and interactive customer service courses. Additionally, we provide online job aids, a virtual Adecco University LearnCentre for all colleagues to expand their knowledge-base and skill sets and offer tuition reimbursements, a Management Trainee Program and an opportunity for executives to attend training programs in leading business schools in Europe. Career advancement is also very important for job satisfaction – particularly to millennials – so every year Adecco promotes approximately 10% of our workforce and allows 25% more to advance their careers laterally. Those who do not receive the promotion in a particular year are presented with aids and exercises which help them refocus and strengthen their skills so that they can succeed the following year. Another program offered is the Short Term Exchange Program which lets an employee switch places with a colleague in another country for a set period of time, capitalize on exciting travel opportunities and learn from teams across the world. When you invest in your employees, they return the investment tenfold through their dedication to the company and talents they bring.
“[Adecco] cares about providing the right information and tools to fellow colleagues so that they can perform their jobs properly.”
Knowing how a company runs, the resources it has available to it and the challenges it’s facing allow a dispersed workforce to perform their jobs effectively and better serve clients, builds mutual trust and creates camaraderie. Effective and frequent communication is key. Adecco colleagues not only have direct contact with senior level executives, but also receive quarterly all-staff calls with the Canadian Leadership Team, a monthly President’s Message outlining strategy, results and colleague success stories, weekly Corporate Communications delivered to their inboxes, and daily 10 minute Branch Meetings as a quick hip-check with their teams. And as part of our global innovation efforts, we also utilize a mass text messaging tool for important alerts.
“Employees are encouraged to bring forward new ideas and opinions.”
Communication needs to be a two-way street to create a community-oriented corporate culture. Making sure employees’ voices are heard is critical to ensuring a company culture is representative of a multitude of opinions and on the right track. That’s why at Adecco, each colleague has a formal monthly one-on-one meeting with their direct manager to discuss their projects, contributions, challenges and individual goals. We also hold employee focus groups annually, listen to employee feedback on how to improve work experience and challenges – and follow up with concrete action plans.
“I love working for a large company that makes everyone feel like we are a part of something special.”
We spend most of our time at work so there should be a fair dose of fun involved. And when you attract and hire the best, most entrepreneurial and positive individuals – fun happens organically. But to give the natural fun a boost, Adecco’s Social Committees – found in our larger offices – organize entertaining events that allow colleagues to get to know each other better and have fun through year-end celebrations, bake sales, pumpkin carving contests, scavenger hunts, team lunches and delicious potlucks. We also have light-hearted initiatives like ringing a bell when orders come in, making dance videos and taking part in singing contests, costume parties, sporting events and local charity events. And when there’s a birthday or milestone occasion like a wedding or baby, there’s an expense policy in place for colleagues to share in the celebrations at work. A workforce that plays together, stays together.
We’ve covered the importance of transparency, good leadership, listening, employee involvement in decision making, training, career advancement opportunities and having fun in creating an exceptional workplace. But we’re not done yet. Our next blog post will feature the rest of the list, covering the other critical elements that make up a great place to work – as deemed by both Adecco staffers and the GPTW Institute.
Until then, keep the conversation going on social media and in comments below. Tell us what you think makes a great workplace on our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter by using #whatmakesaGPTW.
Congratulations to all the other great workplaces on the 2016 list! The full list is published in a Special National Report in today’s Globe and Mail.