What do the top companies to work for have in common?

What do the top companies to work for have in common?


In 2015, Andrew Chamberlain, Ph.D. Chief Economist, wrote a research report asking ‘Does company culture pay off?

The short answer is yes, it most certainly does! Because the top companies to work for consistently have two things in common:

  1. A people culture that promotes productivity through freedom and trust.
  2. High profitability.

Just look at some of the top companies to work for in the UK in 2019:

On top of the list is Google, with annual revenue of $160 billion worldwide and £10 billion in the UK. Google makes it its mission to remove all barriers so that ‘Googlers can focus on the things they love both inside of and outside of work’. By putting the health and happiness of their employees first, they get more out of their employees, who are happy and contented, while they produce the stellar results that continually propel Google to even greater heights.

Google is very aware that having happier employees benefits them greatly, too. When compared to other leading multi-nationals, Google’s employees outrank employees from every other company in terms of their productivity and profit generation. The average Google employee generates more than $1.2 million in revenue each year. Yahoo currently produces just $449,000 per employee, and Microsoft $783,000. This level of productivity has pushed Google stock into the stratosphere, with share prices recently topping $1,000. This is no small feat, given that Google only went public in August 2004 at a price of $85.

On the job learning, training sessions from experienced managers, as well as inspirational talks help to inspire its workers.

Here are eight traits that Google managers must possess, ranked in order of importance:

  1. Be a good coach.
  2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage.
  3. Express interest in your team members’ success and personal well-being.
  4. Be productive and results-oriented.
  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team.
  6. Help your employees with career development.
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.
  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team.

Empower, listen, and advise. Not restrict, demand, and monitor.

In second place are Equal Experts, who aspire to be a company of grown-ups, somewhere that experienced, talented people can truly be themselves, and collaborate with like-minded colleagues to create innovative, simple solutions to challenging business problems. According to Glassdoor, their annual turnover is between £50 and £100 million.

Salesforce ranks #3, and #1 in Australia. Their company culture is built around the spirit of Ohana, which means “family” in Hawaiian. It represents the idea that families, related or chosen, are bound together, with its members feeling a sense of responsibility for one another. Having a genuine interest in an employee’s development is something Salesforce focusses on. They encourage all their leaders to have great conversations with their people so that they know what their goals and aspirations are and can provide opportunities to support them. The process follows a back-and-forth, give-and-take course of development so that everyone has input. Giving every employee a voice in their development is critical to Salesforce’s success. High levels of trust, retention, internal promotion and transfer rates across the business are the result of such initiatives. Their annual revenue in 2019 was $13.28 billion, an increase of 26% year-over-year.

In fourth place is Hiscox. In their most recent employee survey, 94% of employees said that they believe in Hiscox's values: courage, integrity, ownership, connected and human. Hiscox expects their people to question things rather than just passively conform and believe it is this spirit that keeps employees interested, motivated, and engaged.

Their people can make their job their own; they are empowered to run with ideas and spot opportunities. And while they are given plenty of support if they need it, no one is micromanaging them while they’re getting on with the job.

They are a growing company, and their people need to grow with them. The onus is on them to drive their own learning and development, but Hiscox makes sure they are well-supported. There is a lot of learning on the job, but they also offer people the chance to gain professional qualifications, as well as several apprenticeships for school leavers and summer internships to those returning to study.

Hiscox understands that people have lives outside of work. They might be parents or carers; they may want time for hobbies or improving their well-being; they may want to attend the school play or sports day; they might have a long commute from which they sometimes need a break. Hiscox sees their people as grown-ups, so they manage their own time: 'If we need to visit the dentist or watch our children perform in a play, we are trusted to make it work around work.'

Their revenue sits between £2 to £5 billion.

These companies do not have the people perks because of their revenue, they have the revenue because of the way they treat their people - like adults. Think about it - do you micromanage your friends and family, partner, and children? Your dog? If yes, how is that going for you? Is it stressful to hold everything in place and try to make people do things exactly like you want them to? Or do you support them, give advice and let them learn on their own account, so they can take responsibility and be accountable for their decisions and always do their best?

Katrin Kircheis

Katrin Kircheis

From a very young age, Katrin's dream was to become a teacher. However, she soon found out that by being one, kids and teenagers can be quite exhausting and changed course. She started travelling and stayed in places like Iceland and Australia. This gave her the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and get to know their outlook in life. Seven years ago, she moved from Germany to London where she settled down and found her new passion – teaching adults.

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