Top 100 Employers – How did they get there?

“To improve its culture, a company must first define its purpose: Why does it exist, and what greater good does it serve?”  ~ Steve Howe

A few years ago, being a sought-after employer meant no more than offering market-related salaries and benefits, and fair potential for promotion. A list of conventional company values were measured out and employees were expected to harness themselves to these with vigour and dedication. And all would be happy.

But things were not always happy, and there’s a new mood out in the market that makes competition for the top spots on best employer lists more comprehensive and innovative than ever before. In some companies, interaction has become both exciting and revolutionary.

Top values that top companies build on   

Promote a culture that your employees can be proud of: When people are happy, it shows – not only in their work, but also in their relationships and self-esteem. They’re proud to be working for a company whose values they respect and believe in; they experience an increased sense of self-worth because of their involvement. It’s more than team spirit, it’s about real engagement and recognising the value of an individual’s ideas and vision.

Honesty through company values: No matter how impressive your list of values may be, if honesty is not the thread that ties them, people may easily pay lip-service. It’s about trust and transparency. When people genuinely feel this, they will become more honest in sharing issues – which means you’ll know what’s going on when you need to know what’s going on. Allowing honest feedback is vital to keeping people feeling valued and relevant. A company that communicates personally with staff rather than through surveys or the bulk email method, is far more likely to achieve closer relationships with its employees.

Be realistic and relaxed: Transparency is a two-way street. You need to allow employees to review management and the company without fear or favour. There is always room for improvement on both sides – so the open-mindedness to listen and the flexibility to change are key elements. Being innovative in dealing with employees’ feelings and evaluations, and the preparedness where possible to alter policies and procedures or rethink management style, are vital to any company wanting to approach top 100 placement. Be real. Refrain from making promises you can’t keep, but always remain open to suggestions and possibility – because a good company is only good in the company of good ideas.

The new interactive goals

Moving beyond remuneration and values, there are a number of new expectations in the mix, such as: greater camaraderie, more friendly methods of internal communication (death to the email), training, recognition programmes, and diversity, etc. But more important than all of these, is the new biggy – namely CSI (Corporate Social Investment).

  • The most important staff motivating factor that many companies are missing today, is how the company gives back.
  • An employee does not necessarily find a sense of self-worth simply from their job, because they may feel their role is not that valuable against the bigger picture. So, going beyond profits and into benefits for others is huge. It could even be life-changing for some employees and the company itself.
  • Most companies that make the top 100 list today have valuable corporate philanthropy programmes that purposefully involve employees in the process of connecting to communities and the world at large.
  • There’s a sense of individual contribution to good that creates meaningful experience beyond the job.
  • Top companies make a strenuous effort to highlight the employees’ power to make an impact in the world. (The Old Mutual’s Staff Voluntary Fund is a good example).

What top companies are currently driving to remain ahead of the curve

Values – although key to company culture, brand and business strategies – have in some instances, become repetitive, lip-serviced rather than used in clever ways to truly inspire.

So, today’s top companies are reworking that list to become vibes rather than values; an attitude and atmosphere that can be experienced and lived:

  • delivering the ‘wow’ factor through service and attitude
  • embracing and driving change with enthusiasm and positivity
  • creating fun and maybe being a little weird
  • offering adventure through creativity
  • dedication to life-learning
  • supportive management style
  • a sense of family
  • acknowledging contributions
  • a clear desire to see employees succeed as individuals
  • always be humble, but be determined
  • be real.

This article originally appeared in the Ayanda Mbanga Communications company page:


Aug 10, 2017 | Vuk’uzenzele

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