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2020 Great Place to Work survey shows employee pride on the rise

Flexible working, the environment and rapid technological change among key issues


Employees in Best Workplaces continue to feel positive overall around their career. Photograph: iStock


The 2020 Great Place to Work survey found that pride among employees is on the rise. There is also an awareness of the importance of striking a balance between the personal and professional to ensure sustained high performance. There have also been some interesting year-on-year fluctuations which paint a backdrop of uncertainty in some areas.

In 2019, Great Place to Work Institute Ireland saw a significant jump in the numbers of employees taking part in the Best Workplaces survey. This year, those numbers continue, with more than 60,000 people taking part from a range of industries and size of organisations.

The global perspective

This year, Ireland joined GPTW global colleagues as part of the largest study of workplace culture ever conducted by Great Place to Work. About 3.4 million employees across 90 countries were asked to share their experiences. This resulted in the World’s Best Workplaces list, which features an impressive 11 Irish organisations.

It appears employees are thriving at the Best Workplaces across the world. Roughly nine in 10 people in these organisations report being a part of a great working environment. There is also a range of business benefits for these organisations in the form of increased loyalty and retention, higher productivity and a greater co-operative spirit.

However, 46 per cent are not experiencing a great workplace. This means a huge swathe of people are not thriving in work and their organisations are failing to tap into their full potential. From a business perspective, this is limiting these organisations’ ability to keep pace with constant change and source the best people.

Pride on the rise

From an Irish perspective, a number of interesting themes have emerged this year. Overall, levels of pride have seen the biggest jump . This pride is manifesting itself in the work they do, the teams they are part of, and the overall aim of their organisations.

It appears that without a transparent approach to flexible working, seeds of perceived favouritism can be sown

While this jump was seen both in large and medium organisations, the strongest increase was seen in small organisations. Amongst these small organisations, 91 per cent of people agree with the statement, “I’m proud to tell others I work here” and 89 per cent agree with the statement,“When I look at what we accomplish, I feel a sense of pride”. With the role of employee advocacy on the rise, these scores differentiate the organisations’ ability to create their own ambassadorial network, creating strong employee referral networks.

Striking a balance

Flexible work practices are increasingly sought after by employees. The Department of Justice and Equality recently conducted a public consultation to inform the development of a national flexible working policy. Ireland’s Best Workplaces are seeing steady gains in this area, with 77 per cent of people answering positively to the statement, “People are encouraged to balance their work life and personal life”.

This single statement has one of the biggest gaps between “Best” workplaces and average workplaces, with only about half of employees in the average workplaces responding positively to the same question.

While still strong overall, Ireland’s medium workplaces are lagging slightly behind their small and large counterparts. It appears that without a transparent approach to flexible working, seeds of perceived favouritism can be sown. It is imperative to improve clarity, certainty and understanding of employers’ practices with regard to flexible working, and to support managers in its implementation in the workplace.

Year-on-year fluctuations

In 2019, the strongest category rise across the Best Workplaces was seen in the area of corporate social responsibility (CSR). This category looked at three statements: “I feel good about the ways we contribute to the community”; “This workplace is working to reduce its environmental impact”; and “This organisations manages its impact upon society responsibility”.

Organisations see the benefits of reducing waste and increasing efficiency and this helps attract environmentally conscious employees and customers

Interestingly, this year the statement “This workplace is working to reduce its environmental impact” has fallen by two percentage points. This drop is seen across small, medium and large workplaces, with medium witnessing the biggest drop.

It is clear there are shifting expectations in this area, especially given the rising number of Generation Z entering the workforce. Sustainable practices can yield significant rewards, both for the environment and businesses. Organisations see the benefits of reducing waste and increasing efficiency and this helps attract environmentally conscious employees and customers – differentiating the organisation from competitors.

Last year saw a sharp rise in the response to the statement,“This organisation helps me plan for my retirement”. This statement has dropped by four percentage points, with 72 per cent of people responding positively. Employees in the best workplaces realise they need to look after their long-term financial future, beyond the State pension. A drop in this score points to a sense of insecurity around their long-term situation, especially given that the pension age is creeping upwards.

The changing nature of work

Employees in Best Workplaces continue to feel positive overall around their career and development and were asked about three statements: “I can fulfil my career aspirations working here”; “ I am developing professionally working here”; and “I am offered training and development to further myself professionally”. On top of that, 77 per cent of people replied positively to, “I want to work here for a long time”.

While the narrative around AI, automation and robots is increasing, instead of experiencing anxiety around being replaced, the data from average workplaces shows employees are experiencing mounting stress dealing with rapid change and a sense their employers don’t care about them as people.

The Irish talent market is increasingly competitive, as is Ireland’s Best Workplace list. These Best Workplaces are getting smarter and more strategic in creating high-trust, high-performance environments for employees. This is underpinned by a genuine culture which is fostered, supported and championed by the employees themselves. It is this authentic experience that will continue to set Ireland’s Best Workplaces apart.