Great Place To Work Certified™️ Companies: An Alternative to Toxic Workplaces

DAPHNE LEE

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PAMELA SNG

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Pamela Sng and Daphne Lee

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Toxic workplaces and leadership behaviors have become pressing concerns in today’s workplace environment and there is no lack of media coverage on this topic, amplified by social media and online platforms. Employees now have powerful tools to share their experiences—both positive and negative—with a vast audience almost instantly.

This newfound transparency means that potential candidates are more discerning, thoroughly screening companies before applying for jobs or accepting offers. For businesses, this shift is a double-edged sword. Companies with positive workplace cultures are overwhelmed with resumes whenever they announce a vacancy, while those with negative reputations struggle to attract and retain talent.

In this blog, we will explore the pervasive issue of toxic workplaces, identify common warning signs, and discuss effective strategies for creating and maintaining a healthy, supportive work environment.

 

Differentiating between Toxic Workplaces and Wrong Fits

In Season 2 of the Great Place To Work® ASEAN and ANZ podcast, Christian Honegger, CEO of TC Acoustic, emphasizes the importance of differentiating between a truly toxic workplace and a situation where an employee might simply be the wrong fit for a job. A company’s culture and an employee’s strengths and weaknesses determine if they are a good fit for the job. “We really believe that in order to have a great supportive work environment, the culture is everything, culture is more important than rules and codes of conduct because the culture permeates everything in your organization,” he said, sharing that hiring the right people who align with the company’s values is crucial.

 

Defining and Protecting Company Culture

According to Christian, a company’s culture must be clearly defined and protected. He cites examples of employees resigning over conflicting values and the significant impact of “hiring for skills but firing for character”, for example, when the employee has a different set of values system from the company culture, it can impact the workplace environment and other colleagues. This underscores the importance of HR in selecting candidates who share the same values as the rest of the team.

 

Building a Healthy Work Culture

Building a healthy work culture involves inclusive leadership, employee empowerment, and effective communication. Christian stresses that leaders should create a safe environment for staff to speak up in meetings by building trust and encouraging participation. Preparing new staff ahead of time and giving them specific tasks can help build their confidence and encourage them to speak up.

 

Frequent and Open Communication

At TC Acoustic, weekly leadership meetings are held to discuss people and culture, focusing on supporting employees to do their best work. Conducting quarterly surveys to address employee concerns and prioritizing employee satisfaction are also key practices. “Leaders need to invite, include, and involve new hires to feel valued and contribute from day one,” he said. Helping new staff to reframe their minds from proving oneself at work constantly to contributing and feeling empowered from the start is critical.

So how do you tell if you are working in a toxic workplace? From our experience, we have found that these are some common telltale signs to watch out for:

 

1. Politics and favoritism abound

  • Politicking and backstabbing are the norm, and such practices are systematic across the company
  • Discrimination happens—this could be due to age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other factor
  • More significantly, management is aware and does not make any effort to address it

 

2. Well-being is just a word

  • Management views employees as human resources, instead of human beings—interactions revolve exclusively around work deliverables, project deadlines, KPI targets—and there is no real interest in employees’ personal well-being, or what they must sacrifice to perform the work
  • Employees do not feel that their role contributes to a bigger purpose, it’s “just a job” and they experience few opportunities for growth and development
  • Employees experience constant tension and fear that they will be shouted at, bullied and/or harassed, and there is a lack of physical, psychological and/or emotional safety

 

3. Working in Grids and Silos

  • Starting from the top and cascading down the ranks, invisible (and sometimes quite visible) lines are drawn—information is hoarded, there is low or no cooperation and rapport between individuals and teams, and different functions across the company work in silos.

 

Conversely, when you are looking for a job (perhaps to escape a toxic workplace if you’ve just ticked off all the points listed above), what should you look out for? We found that companies whose employees trust their management, take pride in their jobs, and enjoy the people they work with, have successfully embedded the following elements in their culture:

 

1. Fairness

  • Employees are treated fairly and with respect, regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, and position in the company
  • Everyone has an opportunity to get special recognition—through both formal and informal platforms including everyday thank yous, and special shoutouts from managers and peers
  • Office politics and favoritism are directly addressed and nipped in the bud before they have a chance to flourish

2. Care

  • Management shows a sincere interest in employees as individuals, not just an employee
  • This is demonstrated in a variety of ways, from ensuring that employees have the right resources and equipment to do their jobs, to celebrating special events together, encouraging employees to balance their work and personal lives, and involving people in decisions that affect their jobs or work environment; they also often show appreciation for good work and extra effort

3. Community

  • Management and employees express a sense of winning together when times are good, and sticking together when times are tough
  • This sense of unity also creates conditions for better employee cooperation

 

In companies with a great workplace culture, management is the key driver. They are intentional about building the desired culture and strive to cultivate high trust. These companies frequently have a “people” component explicitly articulated in their values—not because people are needed to get the job done, but because they value and prioritize the people who work there. Their values drive day-to-day interactions and behaviors, and when to comes down to the crunch, hard decisions are made with a people-first philosophy.

So, the next time you’re checking social media and online platforms for employee reviews and stories about their workplace experiences, before you apply for a role or accept a job offer, you’ll know what to look out for.

We are proud of our community of Great Place To Work Certified™ companies in the ASEAN and ANZ region—their employees have validated that these workplaces have a healthy, high trust culture, put their people first and care for their holistic well-being.  Find out more about our Great Place To Work Certified™ companies:

https://greatplacetowork.co.id/certified-company-list/

 

 

DAPHNE LEE

Daphne is our Regional Senior Writer and Content Marketing Manager for Great Place To Work® ASEAN and ANZ. She believes in building community-relatable content, telling stories through narratives that add value in today’s workplace and in culture-building. Her idea of a great workplace is one that thrives on openness, support and inclusivity while building trust and working towards a common business growth and purpose. A journalist, she spent 15 years writing for trade publications, lifestyle magazines and broadsheet supplements.

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.

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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.