Great Places to Work – why is it important & what can you do to make it happen?

You often hear companies talk about being a great place to work and how their people are their most important asset. Great places and valued people are certainly linked but these claims are often hard to substantiate.

It’s actually really challenging in 2019 to create a great place as ‘great place’ means different things to so many different people. Different employees, different generations and different expectations exist. Even ’place’ itself is not as straightforward as it once was with mobile and digital changes. A great place to work can be a great place… well almost anywhere!

So why is it important to you and to businesses and organisations to create a great place to work and what can you do to make it happen?

Why great places matter in the battle for talent

Creating a great place to work is important because the battle for talent is more intense and competitive than ever! Skills in demand can change rapidly, employees know they need to be self-learners and willing to adapt. They know employers expect a lot of them and they expect a lot from you in return. The loyalty and patience towards less than fulfilling opportunities that once existed have gone. If you cannot offer the right development, a role that fits but has stretch, great benefits and a fun engaging workplace then the top talent will look elsewhere, and you are going to be in the second division.

However, imagine the advantages that organisations have over competitors where they can create great places. They snap up the best candidates and secure more loyalty and commitment from them. Even once employees have moved on they remain great ambassadors for the brand.

How can you get to great and where can you start?

A key first step to success comes from the leadership of your organisation. Where are you going? Why does it matter? And, how can you tell the story in a way that will get the top talent excited? Defining and articulating your ultimate purpose is the first stage in creating the buzz around a great place to work.

What are you trying to achieve, not day-to-day and in transactional terms, but what’s the ultimate goal?

Telling a brilliant and meaningful story about why your business matters, and what change it’s going to bring into the world is the spark to create the fire of engagement in your teams. If they can really relate to it, they’ll be as passionate about the destination as you are.

Letting people be themselves

Step two is about giving freedom and autonomy to team members. Professional sport often talks about letting players ‘express themselves’. How can your best people ‘express themselves’ if the workplace is hindered by rules and policies and other constraints that hold people back?

Set direction, have clear objectives and accountability and then leave your employees go make it happen – with the autonomy to deliver. That’s a great work environment.

Recognition and celebration

Recognition is another key marker of a great place to work. Not recognition without value but recognition of achievement that comes from mastery of the key skills and delivery needed to help your organisation win. Invest in your people and enable the mastery – train, build capability, share knowledge, be transparent around progress – and celebrate the successes. Show your people that their contribution matters and has made a difference.

In looking at these key steps to success building a great place to work, you’ll have noticed that it’s not the snazzy coffee machines and air hockey tables in the office that make a company truly great. Don’t get us wrong we enjoy a bit of that at NineFeetTall and hence why we moved to Spaces. But that is the superficial side of it. Building a great place is about how you treat your people. How you guide them, allow excellence to thrive through freedom and celebrate the mastery of the drivers to win is critical.

Taking the first step means committing to becoming a great place

Making a step change in this area has many barriers. The business case requestors, the sceptics, the traditionalists can all query the importance of putting ‘becoming a great place’ high on the agenda. With so much else to consider, is being a great place to work really that crucial?

Our view is that it’s critical to your success. We say, don’t delay. Take the first step. Make sure your organisation’s purpose is clear and relevant to your people. Set about creating a great place and see this as a continual strategic element of your success. Drivers and expectations are changing rapidly but in the battle for winning talent and supporting your people can you really afford to play outside the Premier League?

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