What’s soft and mushy on the outside, but competitive and profitable on the inside? It’s a company that ranks highly on the annual Great Place To Work® survey. “It’s not some fluffy, nice-to-have concept,” said Paul Rellis, CEO of Microsoft Ireland. “It is really good for our business.”
“There is nothing soft or flabby about the Best workplaces. They are incredibly well-managed businesses,” said Bob Lee, EMEA Communications Director of Great Place To Work Ireland.
Both were speaking at the 2012 Great Place To Work Ireland Conference held earlier this year in Dublin.
Building a superior work environment helped Microsoft, the #1 World's Best Multinational Workplace in 2011, implement organizational changes in a changing environment. It is also helping DocMorris/ UnicarePharmacy disrupt the Irish pharmacy business with the full support of its employees. It motivates employees at Bright Horizons and has attracted new business. It has boosted sales at Topaz and has reduced costs at Boots Ireland.
Becoming a great workplace is “absolutely the smartest strategic activity you can take on in your business, bar none,” said Amy Lyman, who co-founded Great Place to Work in San Francisco in 1992. Her research, for example, has shown that the 100 Best Companies to Work For® in the US consistently outperform the stock market. The S&P 500 showed an annual growth rate of 3.71 percent between 1998 and 2011, Lyman said. But the 100 Best showed an annual stock market return of 10.32 percent – almost three times greater. [Read more on the business benefits.]
These top companies are notable by having motivated, informed workforces that act with the company’s best interests at heart. As a result, there are numerous contributors to profitability, Lyman said. Just some of the hallmarks of a great workplace is its ability to attract and retain the best talent, deliver products and services of higher quality, and have better safety records.
80% vs 61%: Not 19 points, but 19 employees, says Amy Lyman
Research has shown that in the Top 100 companies, 80% of staff surveyed said they look forward to coming to work every day. That number falls to 61% for the Lower 100 companies, Lyman said. “What could you do with those extra 19 people who are coming in on Monday saying, ‘I am really glad to be here?’” she asked.
The 2012 Great Place To Work Ireland Conference, where the companies interested in creating their own great workplaces were primarily represented by senior management, heard how large companies, often scattered over many locations, were able to adapt to a challenging, recessionary environment. Calling it the “new normal,” Microsoft’s Rellis said, “Our markets have gotten smaller and our competitors have gotten tougher.”
Paul Candon, Marketing Director of Irish-owned Topaz Energy, spoke of the challenges faced by the low-margin service station business and how they rely on their front-line staff for competitive advantage. With a motto of “That’s better” percolating down through the business, Candon said, “Every day we try to be a bit better than our competitors.” For the customer, this manifests itself as friendly staff and cleaner stores. For staff, it’s a chance to provide meaningful input to business planning, he said.
John Muldoon is an IT professional with a strong interest in innovation, management, and technology — especially web development. He is a board member of Raidió na Life, an Irish-language radio station in Dublin. John achieved an MBA at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and regularly attended sessions of the DIT/GPTW Leadership Forum, which he subsequently reviewed in his blog at johnmuldoon.ie. We are grateful to John for his permission to reproduce those reviews on this site.