6 Key Characteristics of an Employer of Choice

NANCY FONSECA

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PAMELA SNG

Author

Nancy Fonseca and Pamela Sng

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The recent years have been marked by geopolitical uncertainties, the AI revolution and sustainability as a growing business imperative, just to name a few. Businesses have had to quickly pivot and change operating models to adapt to external pressures. In addition, changing workforce demographics – with a growing older workforce coupled with a large proportion of Gen Z employees entering companies every year – brings with it different needs and expectations of the workplace.

Leadership in such times demands more than traditional management. The need for leaders who are forward-thinking, inclusive, adaptable and able to rally their people to meet the challenges ahead, while shepherding them has never been more critical. Workplace practices have had to evolve to meet the needs of a more diverse workforce and enable them to thrive in this new business environment.

Based on our experience, we share 6 characteristics that employees value most in their employer, as well as practical tips that people-first leaders can take to create a great experience For All™.

Here’s our list of the workplace features employees value most:

1. Great Leaders

Based on our analysis of the data across Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, which represented the voices of 740,000 employees across different industries and company sizes, including both local enterprises and multinational companies, we found that leadership behavior is a critical driver of employee experience. [1]

Three key themes consistently emerged as factors correlating highly with a great employee experience.

  • Integrity demonstrated consistently
    -Encourage leaders at every level to role model your espoused core values through day-to-day actions and behaviors, especially during critical moments
    -Ensure consistency between leadership’s actions and words, and deliver on promises made
  • Open, two-way communication and authentic collaboration
    -Be approachable, share information on financials and performance metrics transparently, and give straight answers to questions asked
    -Proactively seek employees’ opinions and feedback, follow-up on suggestions and close the feedback loop, including sharing the rationale for decisions/changes made
  •  Genuine care and interest in building relationships
    -Show a genuine interest in your team members as whole persons with diverse needs, expectations, career aspirations and goals
    -Demonstrate empathy and support their needs within and outside the workplace to help them thrive personally as well as professionally, e.g. by offering flexible work options to support work-life balance, providing fair opportunities for learning and career progression, and designing benefits that support different life and career stages to care for their overall well-being

 

Synchrony Global Services Philippines, Inc, ranked as a top Best WorkplaceTM for two consecutive years since 2023, shares how listening is something that the leaders practice in the workplace. “Our success comes from doing a lot of listening, not just with the employee survey, but the roundtables and water cooler conversations, and we include the employees in the decision journey,” said Liwayway Langit, Senior Vice President, Synchrony, Philippines. She shared how an employee based in Manila had alerted her to the poor weather conditions due to a smog and it resulted in the executive leadership team making a decision to change an in-person meeting where close to 1000 employees were expected to attend to a work from home instead.

 

2. Meaningful Work

A sense of purpose is one key aspect of employee well-being at work, and refers to experiencing fulfilment, meaning and progress at work. People want to spend their time in meaningful ways. When employees can connect the dots between their day-to-day work with the organization’s mission and strategy, and understand how their individual contributions support progress toward its purpose, they are more likely to feel a sense of purpose at work. When the organization’s purpose coincides with making a positive impact on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, employees are more likely to resonate with it and feel more strongly about it.

A recent survey found that 86% of Gen Zs and 89% of millennials said that having a sense of purpose is important to their overall job satisfaction and well-being. And these employees are increasingly willing to reject assignments or employers who don’t align with their values. [2] 

  • Clearly articulate your company’s “true north” and why you do what you do
  • Equip leaders at all levels of the company to speak to the strategy and have conversations with their teams to connect their daily work to the strategy, e.g. during their performance conversations and 1:1 check-ins
  • Involve a diverse range of employees in committees to seek their input and address areas for improvement

 

At Boston Scientific in Singapore, Jye Mei Wong, Associate Legal and Compliance Director shared how the company has an unwavering dedication to diversity, equity and inclusivity. “The employee resource groups and employee-driven initiatives, including the DE&I pillars, Lean in Circle, PRIDE, Young Professional Networks and other CSR events have played an instrumental role in crafting this enriching experience.”

For her, Boston Scientific has been a place where she has the privilege to embrace her true self, excel in her role and to expand her horizons. “This ethos of inclusivity and corporate responsibility has shaped my journey here.”

 

3. Appreciation and Recognition

Recognizing employees for the hard work they do is essential. No one wants to feel taken for granted or have their contributions go unnoticed. In Great Place To Work’s 2023 study on discretionary effort, recognition emerged as a top motivator – when each employee stands an equal chance at getting a gold star for their efforts, they are 2.2 times more likely to flex their discretionary muscles and go above and beyond their regular duties. [3]  

  • Set individual as well as team performance goals so that each type of contribution has the potential for recognition, and clearly communicate the evaluation criteria to ensure transparency
  • Go beyond saying “thank you” by expressing genuine appreciation for a specific contribution, or how their actions reflect company values
  • Get creative with special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, and team wins to keep things fun and lively

 

 4. Career Growth

One of the top reasons people leave an organization is a lack of career opportunities. Whether that’s about taking on a new position with more responsibility or one that uses a different set of skills, people want opportunities to grow and develop. [4]

  • Create a variety of career paths that facilitate movement up and through the organization
  • Engage in regular career planning sessions with your team members to understand their aspirations, and what is needed to get to where they want to go
  • Provide fair opportunities for learning and development to support skills acquisition and job growth, through a variety of different ways, e.g. structured training, on-the-job learning, job exposure, postings/rotations to different teams, shadowing senior team members, etc.

 

5. Fairness

People are very perceptive when it comes to fair treatment, and they choose to work where they trust equity is a strongly held value. Experiences around favoritism, or policies and benefits that don’t apply equally to everyone, can create discord and lead to good people leaving an organization.

  • Review your day-to-day practices and look for discrepancies between actions and policy, and actively close identified gaps
  • Examine diversity and inclusion metrics within your organization and establish solid, measurable plans for improvement
  • Regularly benchmark your salary and benefits against the market to ensure equity and competitiveness

 

Australian company General Mills is one such example: their commitment to DEIB creates a positive and inclusive work environment where all employees can bring their whole self to work and feel a sense of belonging.  In the 2024 Great Place To Work® survey, 97% of their employees agreed ‘people here are treated fairly regardless of their race and/or sexual orientation. Some of their inclusive hiring practices include: gender-balanced interview panels, focus on diverse talent pools, and unconscious bias training.

 

6. Fun!

Beyond fitting in, people want to have fun at work. They typically spend upwards of eight hours every day with their colleagues, so it’s important that the culture and atmosphere allow room for celebration and enjoyment. Feeling like you work with friends everyday creates a much more pleasant workplace, making room for great conversation, problem solving and synergy.

  • Create spaces within the office where people can socialize, such as pantries, game zones, sofas and other spaces to allow employees to relax and mingle
  • Take breaks and meals together, e.g. pizza socials, monthly bring-your-own-breakfast gatherings, festive celebrations, company trips, and encourage coworkers to organize interest groups
  • Where employees are situated across different locations or you have a large remote workforce, organize virtual coffee socials, random pairings or lunch groups for those around the same area or even virtually across different sites, hold virtual celebrations with interactive elements to encourage participation across different locations

 

Vietnam’s Fashion Garments Ltd, a Best Workplace in 2024, has a WOW program aimed at enhancing employee well-being through activities such as “Friday Night” sing-a-longs, workshops on spending quality time with children along with physical well-being activities that include a series of yoga training, Color Fun Run, and sports clubs, and events such as Parents Day among others. This approach to employee well-being has also contributed to a more motivated and productive workforce, says the company.

Being an employer of choice takes some planning and a strategic approach. Ultimately though, it comes down to your culture: Are you fair, honest, respectful and fun? Do your people trust you to make solid decisions and have their best interests at heart? Are you values-driven and consistent? These are the types of practices that employees look for when deciding where they want to work. And each of these underpins great workplaces and strong cultures.

If you want to know how Great Place To Work® can help you create a strong company culture, reach out to us to find out more.

https://greatplacetowork.com.vn/employee-survey/

 

[1] Great Place To Work® Regional Insights Report 2024  
[2] 2024 Gen Z and Millennial Survey: Living and working with purpose in a transforming world. Deloitte, 2024.
[3] Creating a Culture of Recognition. Great Place To Work® Institute, 02 March 2023.
[4] The Importance of Career Progression in Retaining Talent. The Adecco Group, September 2022.

NANCY FONSECA

PAMELA SNG

Pamela is our Senior Consultant and Research Lead for Great Place To Work® ASEAN and ANZ. She has over two decades of consulting and policy experience helping organizations in their journey to become fair and progressive employers. She believes that every organization has the potential to be a great workplace, and works with data to distil insights and develop resources to help them. When she’s not burrowing down the rabbit hole of words and numbers, she’s probably immersed in a new K-drama or enjoying a good meal with family and friends. 

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.

The data science behind this list from Great Place To Work®

Great Place To Work® has been surveying employees around the world about their workplace experiences for 30 years. We have developed a set of themes and metrics that not only predict whether employees feel their workplace is great, but predict retention, agility, and overall business success.  

Using our proprietary Trust Index™ survey, we measure the core of what we know creates great workplaces — key behaviors that drive trust in management, connection with colleagues, and loyalty to the company.  

The survey enables employees to share confidential quantitative and qualitative feedback about their organization’s culture by responding to 60 statements on a five-point scale and answering two open-ended questions.

Employees tell us whether leaders are accessible, communicate honestly and clearly, and if their actions match their words. They tell us whether they feel respected as individuals, if they receive training benefits, appreciation, support for their well-being and opportunities to contribute. They tell us whether they believe their company is fair related to pay, profits, promotions, recognition, favoritism and opportunities. They tell us if they are proud of their work, their team, and their company, and if they feel they make a difference and their work is meaningful. And they tell us whether they enjoy the people they work with, feel cared for and can be themselves.  

List rankings are based on this employee feedback, which we analyze to determine the extent to which this experience is shared by the full workforce. Great Place To Work measures the differences in survey responses across demographic groups and roles within each organization to assess both the quality and consistency of the employee experience. Statements are weighted according to their relevance in describing the most important aspects of an equitable workplace. 

The best companies create great work experiences not just for management, but also for their part-time employees on the front lines, for those who’ve just joined and those who’ve spent their whole career there, for every race and ethnicity, gender, neurotype, or other demographic in the organization – we look at it all. Companies with the broadest set of employees who report positive workplace experience receive the highest rankings on lists.

In addition to analyzing employee feedback, for National List’s for companies in the Medium and Large size categories, we also consider what a company can tell us about their programs and workplace strategy. Each company also answers six essay questions that provide greater insight into how, and why the organization is great for all people. Responses are rigorously evaluated and cross-reviewed according to Great Place To Work’s research-driven criteria. From what companies share in datapoints and essays, we identify the organizations that offer the most generous, caring and innovative cultures that reflect a genuine commitment to meet the diversity of their people’s needs inside and outside the workplace as validated by what employees themselves report in survey results.
Where an industry list is being revealed (i.e. Healthcare, Technology) additional information provided from an organization in the form of a culture audit will not be considered; rather we analyze employee feedback from the Trust Index survey with the above methodology.

Because employee feedback drives these rankings, surveys must meet strict requirements for how they are distributed and the percentage of employees who respond to ensure they accurately represent honest feedback from the company’s full population. To be eligible for the list, companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 10 or more employees in the country they are being Certified, and be operating in the industry relevant to a specific Industry list if applicable (i.e. Healthcare, Technology). If categories are being listed within a National list, category break downs are as follows: Companies with 10-29 people were considered for the Micro category; those with 30 to 99 people for the Small category; companies with 100 to 999 employees were considered for the Medium category; and those with 1,000 or more for the Large category. Some lists in certain countries may combine categories in which case that will be specified in the list breakdown.
While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement.