The latest ‘AFR BOSS Best places to work’ list shares ANZ’s top work culture performers alongside valuable lessons we can all use to make work an enjoyable experience.

We are living in the time of the Great Resignation, which has seen employees leaving their workplaces in droves as they reassess what they want out of working life. COVID-19 has put a match to any archaic notion that jobs cannot be done remotely or flexibly. It has also made many of us acutely aware that life is precious and that having the time and space to care for our health and the ones we love is a crucial consideration to factor into our (working) days.  

So it follows that what was once a curious peek into other workplaces has now become a matter of priority. What we are talking about is ‘best places to work’ lists and one of the most well-known on our side of the globe is the AFR BOSS Best places to work’ a prestigious annual list based on a rigorous assessment process managed by Australian behavioural science consultancy, Inventium.  

The criteria that make workplaces winners  

The opportunity to submit an entry to the list is open on an annual basis. Participants must complete a staff survey that asks employees a series of questions about their experience working for their organisation. The survey accounts for 50% of the overall score.  

The second 50% of the assessment is a written submission. The entrants answer questions relating to the practices, programs and policies that currently exist within their organisation.  

The assessment is underpinned by Inventium’s Workplaces of the Future framework, shown here:  

The framework assesses the 10 key factors that are critical to employees feeling motivated and engaged at work.  

Grounded in self-determination theory (one of the most well-researched and validated theories of motivation) the assessment examines three key facets of employee experience:  

AUTONOMY: 

  • At the individual level, this is assessed based on choice: do employees have freedom in determining what they work on and how they do it?
  • At the team level, empowerment is assessed: providing teams with clarity and structure to act independently and with velocity.  
  • At the leader level, flexibility is assessed: how leaders provide employees with choice over when, where, and how they perform their work. 

MASTERY:  

  • Assessed on challenge at the individual level: do people work on tasks that are aligned to the individual, are sufficiently challenging, and do they have the skills or resources to rise to that challenge?
  • Assessed on learning at a team level: are teams engaged in rapid, continuous, data-driven learning from experience and experimentation? 
  • Assessed on wellbeing at the leader level: examining how leaders prioritise mental health, promote sustainable working norms, and encourage smarter working practices.  

CONNECTEDNESS:  

  • At the individual level, this is assessed on belonging: whether employees feel accepted and included by those around them.  
  • At the team level, democracy is assessed: a team environment in which everyone has an equal voice.  
  • At the leader level, equality is assessed: whether leaders have created an environment that promotes diversity, fosters inclusivity, and removes bias. 

As an overarching facet, Inventium also assesses purpose: whether an organisation seeks to make valuable contributions to people and society that go beyond generating economic value. 

Autonomy, choice, empowerment, flexibility, mastery, challenge, learning, wellbeing, connectedness, belonging, democracy, equality, and purpose. These values seem like pretty great standards to operate by, regardless of whether or not your organisation wants to land on a ‘best place to work’ list. The assessment framework would be an excellent place to start if you are pondering how to affect positive cultural change within your organisation or team. 

So, which organisations have performed well against the Workplaces of the Future framework? Let’s look at who is leading the way in this year’s list.  

A note about Number 1

This isn’t a nonprofit, so we’ll keep this brief, but taking out the 2022 overall top spot is consumer finance fintech, InDebted. Introducing a four-day week for all employees, unlimited leave, the ability to work from anywhere in the world and the payment of a quarterly office stipend (a fixed amount of money paid to an employee – in addition to their basic salary – that aims to cover the extra costs incurred by working from home) are all listed as reasons that InDebted finds itself in overall first place.

InDebted introduced a four-day week about nine months ago amid a skills shortage that means the fintech must compete for talent and find ways to attract and retain staff. The startup also used the change to ensure employees are as happy and healthy as possible, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the mental health of staff. Plus, the company wanted to give time to staff to allow them to pursue outside interests. That could mean anything from looking after a baby and spending more time with family, to starting a business, volunteering or developing knowledge in areas of interest, such as climate change.

A four-day week may not be accessible to us all (or maybe it is!), and sizeable financial incentives may be a stretch too far for organisations operating in the nonprofit sector, but look closer at the list and you will find charity inspiration.

Nonprofit best in show  

NFPs are assessed in a sub-category alongside government and education: 

Coming in at number 5 of that sub-category, and in first place for a charity, is Royal Far West. The organisation, which is Australia’s only national charity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of country children, features in the top rankings for the second year in a row.  

“We are an innovative organisation that is driven by our mission to make an impact by improving the health and wellbeing of Australia’s country kids. Our team also care deeply for each other. It’s these meaningful connections that make Royal Far West a very special place to work,” says the charity’s CEO, Jacqueline Emery.  

The 2022 results reflect the high priority that Royal Far West places on employee wellness, promoting sustainable and flexible working norms and encouraging smart working practices. 

The organisation also scored highly against wellbeing in the employee survey section of the assessment. A special mention was given to the charity’s Discover & Dream Summit which followed a period of growth and transformation for the organisation. The summit sought to deeply engage employees in the execution of the charity’s new five-year strategy which will see the implementation of more mature operating structures and systems to protect, grow and enhance the mission of Royal Far West.    

Other ACNC-registered organisations joining Royal Far West in the top 10 are healthcare, home care, housing and support provider, Baptcare, and aged care provider, BaptistCare NSW & ACT. The latter organisation has been recognised for its achievements and practices, including its employee assistance program, Flourish, and its support of staff during COVID-19. 

“After conducting a pulse survey a few months into the pandemic, 36% of staff responded that their wellbeing was not high, and a significant number indicated they were struggling,” says BaptistCare CEO Charles Moore. 

“While we had already established support for staff, it was clear these new and evolving challenges required a further response that acknowledged the evolving situation. Our Flourish program provided staff with greater access to counselling and support services and introduced additional lifestyle, career, financial and legal support,” he said. 

The program, available to staff and volunteers, and their families, was relaunched with a broader and holistic range of support services, and nearly 5000 staff and volunteers received direct mail ensuring they were aware of the program and support available. 

In addition to staff engaging with Flourish, BaptistCare also provided staff with retention bonus payments totalling almost $500,000, above and beyond those provided by government, and appreciation vouchers for staff on receiving their first vaccination dose. 

With nearly 750 organisations across Australia and New Zealand nominated for this year’s list, these three charities do well to find themselves in the upper echelon of what is regarded as work culture at its best.  

Attracting great employees is critical for success, so our nonprofits need to be doing everything they can to retain them. In today’s rapidly changing world, we must develop workplaces that foster adaptability and agility. Successful organisations have staff who are productive, creative and focused in the face of endless digital distractions, and those who are pioneering best-practices in areas such as wellbeing, flexibility and equality. 

In a nutshell, the best workplaces are ones that provide the structure and environment at all levels to motivate and enable people to do their very best work – we hope your nonprofit can use the Workplaces of the Future framework and the examples of Royal Far West, Baptcare and BaptistCare to make your workplace the best that it can be. 

 

To find out more about Royal Far West’s selection in the AFR BOSS Best places to work, click here

To find out more about Baptcare’s selection, click here.  

To find out more about BaptistCare’s selection, click here. 

To learn more about the AFR BOSS Best places to work list, click here.  

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