Based on the philosophy that an organisation’s employees are in the best position to comment on the employment experience, employees determine 85% of a company’s ranking in the Best Company to Work For survey, with executives accounting for the remaining 15%.
“We aim only to reflect back to a company the perceptions of its employees,” says David Conradie, human capital principal at Deloitte. “The goal is to determine what drives an organisation’s employees, what attracted them to the company, what is retaining them, and what motivates them to perform. Once you understand what drives your employees you can align that information with your overall business strategy.”
The survey invites participation from all companies who employ more than 50 people. Since its inception, more and more smaller businesses are making it into the top 20. “Our theme this year is ‘making South Africa a better place to work’. It’s been gratifying to see the great diversity in industry and company size represented in the survey. We’ve also seen a slow but steady increase in the positivity of employee rankings, which suggests that organisations are becoming better and better at satisfying their employees.”
Among the most important attributes shared by the top companies Conradie lists the following:
Inspired and inspirational leadership. It all starts with the CEO and their leadership philosophy. “Companies should not participate in the survey unless they have that in place,” Conradie says. “The absolute commitment and active involvement of the CEO and senior leadership is foremost and fundamental.”
Clear alignment between human resources policies and business strategy. Winning companies have HR policies that make strategic business sense and they are almost obsessive in their implementation of these policies.
A very strong emphasis on performance. This manifests itself in a number of ways. The management of staff performance is in itself a key performance metric; managers are held accountable and there are consequences for both good and poor performance, which is constantly being monitored and measured. “The top companies do not tolerate non-performance or under-performance at all and they differentiate very clearly between achievers and non-achievers,” Conradie says. “They recognise and celebrate good performers and they manage out non-performers. There’s no ‘5% increase across the board’ mentality.”
Investment in building leadership capability. From first-level management to the executive suite, top companies grow their leaders from within and have substantial leadership bench strength. As a result, they are never at risk. Even if a top leader departs, their succession planning is strong enough to ensure a smooth transition.