From the MD: It’s A Matter of Trust

Evelyn Kwek






As the sun sets on 2023, I find myself at the intersection of reflection and anticipation. It’s been a year of immense growth and learning at Great Place To Work® ASEAN and ANZ. Reflecting back, what key lessons can we carry into the new year?

Prioritizing Employee Well-Being

We began 2023 with a dedicated focus on employee well-being.

Our LinkedIn polls that we conducted across ASEAN and Australia indicated a unanimous intent among HR and business leaders to prioritize this aspect. However, as the year unfolded, broader market concerns like inflation, layoffs, recessions, the rise of generative AI, and global conflicts began to overshadow this focus.

Embracing the Era of Generative AI

The mass appeal of generative AI has been a defining feature of 2023, which has sparked many debates about the future of human work. In these discussions, a key message that is coming out is the reassurance of our workforce that there will be a place for them in the workplace while witnessing progressive companies rapidly integrating AI into their operations. This technological leap has been less about displacement and more about enhancing productivity and innovation, and has stirred conversations about the future of work, particularly around human-AI collaboration.

My colleague wrote a thoughtful piece that is helpful as organizations intensify the adoption of AI in the workplace.

Leadership Behavior: A Pivotal Driver of Employee Experience

Publishing 16 National Best WorkplacesTM Lists across Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia was a significant milestone for us. Our analysis of the dataset, representing the voices of 740,000 employees across all the 5 markets revealed leadership behavior as a critical driver of employee experience, a finding echoed by Josh Bersin’s study, which emphasizes the significant impact of leadership on workplace dynamics.

We’re excited to delve deeper into this topic in our upcoming regional Insights Report due in the first quarter of 2024.

If there is one thing I have learnt working with Best Workplaces over the past 9 years, it is that great workplaces are not made up of individual superstars. It takes everyone in an organization to create a great workplace for all.

Seeing the impact of leadership behavior on employee experience, at the Best Workplaces Award in Singapore this year, we introduced the Leadership in Action Award.

The Leadership in Action awards were given to organizations whose leadership teams, i.e. leaders across all levels of the organization, have received the strongest validation from their employees.

Leaders have not had the easiest time in recent years and as much as we need to hold leaders accountable to high standards, we need to encourage the heart of leaders as well. Our team hopes the recognition sends a message to leaders that they matter too.

Pulling the Threads Together

Employee well-being, generative AI, and leadership – these diverse themes converge on a single message: Building Trust.

It is all too easy to get swept up with new trends, top concerns and pressing priorities. Regardless of context or situations, organizations and leaders cannot take our eyes off taking care of people, helping them adapt and thrive in rapidly changing environments. When the stakes are high and the future uncertain – the need to dig deeper and build trust with employees and key stakeholders is even greater.

Some might say that trust is an old-fashioned word, often enacted in movies, idealized in novels, or lost in the nostalgia of simpler times. But I believe that trust is neither old-fashioned nor out of reach.

It is real, tangible, and more critical than ever in our rapidly evolving corporate landscape.

Looking Ahead

At Great Place To Work, ‘purpose’ has been our guidepost for the past two years, reminding us of our ‘why’. For 2024, ‘growth’ is my guiding word. Drawing inspiration from autistic mixed media artist Morgan Harper Nichols, I am inspired by the concept of ‘growth’ in all its forms. For me, I carry the lesson of building trust with the ‘stakeholders’ in my life while seeking growth.

Growth manifests differently for each of us. What does growth look like for you in the workplace, as a leader, and in your personal life?

In 2024, we will publish the 3rd Vietnam Best Workplaces List. It’s been 10 years since we started this mission of building great workplaces for all in ASEAN, starting from our humble office in Singapore. This is a growth we will be celebrating and more details will be shared.

May 2024 be the beginning of a personal and corporate growth journey, one that recognizes the unique transformation we are about to embark on.

Yours for growth,

Evelyn Kwek

Evelyn is the Managing Director for Great Place to Work®️ in ASEAN and ANZ. Heading the expansion of Great Place to Work®️ offices in ASEAN, Evelyn is convinced that just as the region is growing exponentially on the economic front, the work of building great workplaces For All™ must go in tandem with economic growth.

A proud mother of 3, Evelyn takes parenting very seriously – she is strict yet giving, result-focused yet generous. Together with husband Roland, they relish exploring new cultures and beautiful places of the world, usually on leisurely self-drive holidays, before the days of Covid.

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 the Best Workplaces™ in Vietnam 2024 list 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 programs reflecting 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.

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. While essay responses provide important context for rankings, only survey data can garner a list placement. In the last year, Great Place To Work® surveyed companies employing more than 135,000 people in Vietnam and received more than 125,000 survey responses.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

To determine the 2022 Vietnam Best Workplaces™, Great Place To Work®️ analyzed confidential survey feedback representing nearly 20,000 employees across different industries in Vietnam. Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a Great Place To Work For All™️.

85% of the evaluation is based on what employees say about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. Great Place To Work analyzes these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce make up, and what’s typical in their industry. The remaining 15% of the rank is based on an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of innovation, the company’s values, and the effectiveness of their leaders, to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To be considered, companies had to meet the Great Place To Work-Certified™ standard. To ensure survey results truly represent all employees, Great Place To Work requires that Trust Index©️ survey results are accurate to a 95% confidence level with a 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results. 

Companies with 10-99 people were considered for the Small category, companies with 100-999 people were considered for the Medium category and companies with 1000+ people were considered for the Large category.