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Research suggests that organizations that provide a strong workplace environments see higher stock market returns.

Steve Tsai Photography

High levels of employee confidence, loyalty and retention are more prevalent in better work environments

There are plenty of “best of” lists for workplaces, but whether you consult Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, the Great Place to Work Institute of Canada’s Best Workplaces, Glassdoor’s Employee’s Choice Award or one of the countless other lists out there, there are a few common threads between the top contenders.

Perhaps most importantly is that their decision to provide such a strong working environment has real economic returns. According to the Great Place to Work Institute, companies that make the list have consistently experienced higher stock market returns, staff turnover rates that are half their industry’s average, better customer service, higher levels of innovation and increased productivity. In fact, the companies that make the Fortune list saw three times greater stock performance than the Russell 1000 Index.

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Within the “World’s Best Workplaces” 86 per cent of employees say they intend to stay a long time; 88 per cent are willing to go the extra mile for their employer; and 86 per cent feel confident relying on their colleagues. By comparison, only 56 per cent of those employed by companies that didn’t make the list feel committed to their employers, and only 59 per cent are willing to put in extra effort.

As one of the companies recently named to the Great Place to Work Canada list, our team at Cresa works to foster a strong culture by focussing on meaningful employee recognition and development. Clear communication and regular social opportunities to connect help our team to grow and succeed together.

Culture

In order to become recognized as one of the best workplaces, organizations need to put a strong emphasis on creating a culture that reflects their brand and mission, which extends from policy to social activities to the physical layout of the workspace itself.

“These organizations demonstrate that focused and systematic investment in culture development pays significant and sustained dividends for all organizational stakeholders,” writes José Tolovi Neto, managing partner for Great Place to Work Canada, in the Canada’s Best Workplaces 2019 report.

Trust

According to the report, trust is one of the most important elements of a strong corporate culture. “Over two decades of research confirms that workplace trust is the foundation for quality jobs and performance excellence,” explains Alison Grenier, head of culture and research for Great Place to Work. “People working in high trust environments deliver far more value than the sum of their individual efforts.”

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Today's offices are designed as places that encourage social interaction.

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Health and wellness

As work-life integration becomes more prominent, employers are increasingly expected to keep employee health and wellness top of mind.

Canada’s 10th best place to work with less than 100 employees – Toronto-based professional services provider EventSimple – provides workers with healthy snacks, fresh fruit and exercise balls throughout the office. Number 15 on the list of mid-sized employers, Gardiner Roberts LLP, even provides fitness classes, registered massage therapists and group fitness classes in the office.

The top-rated workplace for Canadians in 2019, Intuit, takes health and wellness a step further by providing employees with a $1,000 well-being stipend. Staff is encouraged to use the funds to cover emotional, physical and financial well-being services, and the company also provides employees with access to in-house sports equipment and financial advisory services.

People

People come in all shapes and sizes and their working styles are often equally as diverse. While there was a time when workplaces only offered a one-size-fits-all solution, employees now expect to work in an environment that acknowledges and celebrates their unique attributes and preferences.

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For example, the country’s 35th best place to work among large employers, Deloitte, allows employees to work in whatever space they prefer, with options that include open workspaces, living-room-style collaboration spaces or treadmill desks.

Bateman MacKay LLP, the country’s 46th best small employer this year, similarly offers ergonomic workstations with optional standing desks and ball chairs.

“Different people have different working styles and it’s important that they have the space and resources to meet their personal needs,” explains Joanne Chan, principal of SDI Design. “At the same time, it’s also important to provide a space for everyone to come together, share ideas and socialize in a more relaxed setting.”

For example, Canada’s 25th best small employer, Pace Technical Services, organizes a range of staff gatherings at its offices and around town, including barbecues and theatre performances. The country’s 36th best mid-sized employer, Q4 Inc., hosts weekly Fri-YAY social events, as well as annual Halloween, Pride and other events to build the social cohesion of the workplace.

While there are a wide range of factors that contribute to a strong work environment, many of the world’s best employers are committed to providing an open and collaborative working culture, ensuring the health and well-being of their employees and offering them ample space to unwind. Though it may come with a cost, providing this sort of working environment can offer significant returns in the form of employee loyalty, organizational productivity and financial performance.


Jamie Grossman is the managing principal of Cresa’s Toronto Office and a Director of Cresa Global. Cresa is the largest advisory firm in the world that exclusively represents tenants and occupiers of real estate, with 80 locations globally. https://www.cresa.com/toronto-on

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