What makes a Great Workplace?


Google’s Zurich office.

Photo courtesy of Camenzind Evolution

When thinking about what makes a great workplace, many look for a set of employee benefits, perks and programs. Yes, those practices can create an enjoyable culture, but what really drives employee engagement is being able to build high-quality relationships in the workplace — relationships characterized by trust, pride, and camaraderie.

If you look at companies in Silicon Valley, one may think the opposite is true. With offices full of pool tables, beer and bright colours the focus seems to be on fun more than anything else. But if you look at the recent announcement by Yahoo to change their work from home policy, employees saw it as a message from management that “we don’t trust you” and even with all their other cool perks, employee engagement took a nose dive.

The Great Place to Work® Institute states, “Great workplaces are built through the day-to-day relationships that employees experience — not a checklist of programs and benefits.” Through their years of research, the Institute has determined that the key to these relationships is TRUST. From the Employee’s perspective, a great workplace is one where they:

• TRUST the people they work for;
• Have PRIDE in what they do; and
• ENJOY the people they work with.

Trust is the defining principle of great workplaces — created through management’s credibility, respect for fellow employees, and an expectation of fair treatment. The degree of pride and camaraderie employees feel are also measured in the Great Place to Work assessment.

I started my career with Ian Martin as a Recruiter over 20 years ago; I am still here because it is a Great Place to Work. It doesn’t feel like “just a job” to me. I feel I am part of the organization and I have always been given the opportunity to participate in its success. I come to work each day because I really enjoy the people that I work with and I believe in what we do. Over the years, I have had the privilege of working closely with Bill Masson and now with Tim Masson and it is still the place I want to be.

For the first time this year, we participated in the Great Place to Work survey to gain insight into how our employees view working at the Ian Martin Group. When we got back our results in January, Tim Masson, our CEO wrote a blog post analysing how we rated. While there are areas for improvement, we were ecstatic that 93% of the 139 respondents agreed with the statement, “Taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work.”

When our employees were specifically asked if there was, “anything unique or unusual about our organization that makes it a great place to work,” frequently mentioned answers included:

• Open door policy from the CEO down
• Focus on collaboration and “family” feeling among employees
• Inclusive, clear and transparent when it comes to creating strategy and goals
• Being a B Corporation and giving back to the community
• Philosophy of “no talented jerks” means you’re surrounded by great people you can trust.

It’s evident that what’s important to our employees is aligned with the Great Place to Work® Institute’s definition. And it was further reinforced this morning when it was officially announced that the Ian Martin Group is being recognized as one of this year’s Best Workplaces in Canada. While this award does celebrate the great leadership and programs the company has put in place, the real kudos must go to our employees. Trust, pride, and camaraderie aren’t things that you can manage or implement from the top down. At Ian Martin, these award-winning qualities are created and nurtured by everyone in the company.

The list of “Best Workplaces in Canada” is compiled by Great Place to Work® Institute Canada. The competition process is based on two criteria: two-thirds of the total score comes from a 58-statement survey completed by a random selection of employees, along with their open-ended comments about their organization; the remaining one-third of the score comes from an in-depth review of the organization’s culture, including an evaluation of HR policies and procedures. This offers a rigorous representation of the organization from an employee perspective, and an overall portrait of the workplace culture. Together, they provide crucial data relative to the five trust-building dimensions of a great place to work®: credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie.

This year’s list received over 300 nominations and over 57,000 employees participated in the 2013 “Best Workplaces in Canada” survey. View the full list of winners.

Once again, Thanks to all of our employees for making the Ian Martin Group one of Canada’s Best Workplaces!


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