Are You Creating a Great Place to Work?

I’m a sucker for “top” lists.

Top 100 movies of all time. Top Premier League strikers. Top vacation destinations. You name the list, and I’m likely to click and read who or what got the top ranking.

Given my work with leaders, I’m always most interested in lists that try to capture the world’s best employers. The Great Places to Work organization recently announced its list of the world’s best multinational companies to work for.

The list represents some of the most iconic global brands. I’m proud to say that The Adecco Group (our parent company) ranked in the top five of the global list.

Achieving status like this requires deliberate focus and hard work. As I have seen through my work, creating and sustaining a positive workplace culture that is compelling and attractive globally is not easy.

I reached out to Alain Dehaze, the CEO of The Adecco Group, to get his perspective on this most-recent honor. He shared with me that there are two critical success factors for building a great place to work.

The first is that creating a great place to work must be one of the key priorities on the CEO’s agenda. It’s the CEO who must take culture and engagement seriously.

The second critical success factor he shared is that it’s important “that every single person in the company should feel genuinely and personally responsible to contribute to make his or her work environment a great place to work.”

His insights really resonated with me because they validate my perspective based on my leadership experience and in consulting with companies around the world. The bottom line is that a great workplace doesn’t happen by accident.

To me, the road to a great workplace must go through the leadership of an organization. As I’ve written in my book, The Leadership Contract, leaders create culture through their individual and collective behavior. They set the tone for every employee.

A lot of people think that a great place to work is defined by how many foosball tables it has, and how much free food it gives away in the company cafeteria. Those things can help, but on their own they are not a substitute for strong and compelling leadership.

This has been revealed repeatedly in research, such as the work done by Willis Towers Watson. In their report, “Effective Managers: Your Critical Link to Successful Strategy Execution,”  the firm found some really interesting connections between leadership and employee engagement.

When employees believe their executive leaders and the rest of their managers are working well together, employee engagement jumps to 72%. However, when employees perceive executive leaders and managers not working well together, engagement drops to 8%. That’s a pretty staggering difference.

Glassdoor also reported a connection between workplace satisfaction and leadership. Their research from their extensive database has found that across all income levels, the top predictors of workplace satisfaction are the culture and values of an organization, the quality of senior leadership, and career development opportunities. Pay was one of the least important factors.

This research confirms something I’ve always known in my own career—there is a strong connection between leadership and employee engagement and workplace satisfaction.

This means we all need to pay attention to the kind of work environment we are creating within our teams, departments, functions and companies. Every leader has accountability for creating the most compelling work environment they can. Are you? Here are a few questions for you to consider, whether you are a CEO, middle manager, or front-line supervisor:

  1. How important is creating a great workplace to you as a leader?
  2. Do you believe it’s your accountability, or something warm and fuzzy for the human resources department to worry about?
  3. Do you have a personal vision of what a compelling workplace should look like?
  4. How often do you engage in conversations with your employees on the current work environment, discussing what is currently strong and where it can be stronger?

I believe the leaders who really focus on creating the best workplace they can will be rewarded with the best talent and employees who are committed to driving the highest performance.

Are you one of these leaders?

This week’s Gut Check for Leaders asks: Are you creating a great place to work?

Does your organization have a strong leadership culture? Take our short survey and tell us your story. Start our survey now.

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