Employees at Australia’s best workplaces get perks such as free study, birthdays off, cash for home office makeovers and can even swap the most hated parts of their job with someone else.
The 2022 Australia Best Workplaces list, produced by the Great Place to Work Institute, named Australia’s best workplaces across five categories – micro, small, medium and large.
The winners in each of those categories were The Recruitment Company, Howden Insurance Brokers, and tech companies Mantel and Cisco.
Australian firms are currently facing crippling staff shortages on the heels of the Covid pandemic.
One of the ways to lure top talent is by offering jaw-dropping perks.
The 2022 Australia Best Workplaces list included Atlassian. (Pictured Mike Cannon-Brookes, the founder of Atlassian, which made the top five, and his wife Annie Cannon-Brookes)
Employees at Australia’s best workplaces get perks such as free study, birthdays off, cash for home office makeovers and can even swap the most hated parts of their job with someone else (Pictured, Salesforce staff at a work lawn bowling event)
An impressive 98 per cent of Mantel staff said it was a great place to work compared to just 56 per cent for the average Aussie company. Mental won the medium category (Pictured Mantel Australia employees)
The small Sydney job agency The Recruitment Company was one of the few businesses to record a perfect 100 per cent rating among staff, with employees reporting it is a ‘great place to work’.
By comparison the average across a ‘typical Australia-based company’ is just 56 per cent.
The Recruitment Company’s score came from the ‘revolutionary idea’ of bosses listening to staff feedback then making changes, assisting with mental health issues and plenty of social interaction.
The 22 staff members also have a beer fridge and pool table to socialise around and can do group fitness classes in the office.
The job agency won the micro category, ahead of SustainAbility Consulting.
The small Sydney job agency The Recruitment Company was one of the few businesses to record a perfect 100 per cent rating among staff, with employees reporting it is a ‘great place to work’ (Pictured, The Recruitment Company staff)
Tech multinational Cisco topped the large company category, for those with at least 1,000 staff, heading off Salesforce, Atlassian, REA Group and Hilton (Pictured, Cisco staff at a ‘fun fund’ team bonding event)
Australia’s best places to work awards
SMALL EMPLOYERS (30 to 99 staff)
1- Howden Insurance Brokers Australia
2- Response Security Services (NSW, Qld, SA)
3- EFCOMM (Queensland)
4- Bravure Group
MEDIUM EMPLOYERS (100 to 999 staff)
4- Jaybro Group
5- AbbVie ANZ
LARGE EMPLOYERS (1000 or more staff)
4- REA Group
Source: Great Place to Work Institute
Across the hundreds of companies evaluated, the best had a combination of cushy perks and tangible long-term benefits, including life and income protection insurance.
Tech multinational Cisco topped the large company category, for those with at least 1,000 staff, heading off Salesforce, Atlassian, REA Group and Hilton.
Many of the top-ranked companies now have policies to allow staff to work from wherever they choose, according to A Great Place to Work.
‘The best employers are proactively offering flexible, hybrid work arrangements for their employees,’ said Great Place to Work CEO Roland Wee.
‘They recognise that employees appreciate and thrive in this model of flexible working.
‘The very best are engaging their people in designing what the future of work looks like, experimenting and adjusting policies as they go.’
Mental health and wellbeing programs are also becoming commonplace, especially those encouraging staff to open up about ‘mental, emotional and physiological’ challenges.
Cisco is well-known for an innovative range of employee benefits are sometimes criticised for being gimmicky.
But the perks ultimately help the company sit near the top of many employer ranking lists.
For example Cisco lets staff pick a ‘gift or experience’ on their first and fifth anniversary of joining the company.
Each Cisco team also has a ‘fun fund’, basically a team-bonding budget to be spent on off-site ‘celebrations or fun activities’.
The firm gives every staff member their birthday off work each year and gives them five days paid leave to volunteer for a cause unrelated to the company.
It also has in-house ‘job swaps’ that let employees swap between 20 per cent and 100 per cent of their role with another employee.
Salesforce is also well known for its benefits, which range from a $250 baby bonus and coaching and support for new parents to letting teams set their own work hours and refunding staff for their gym expenses, meditation apps, cooking classes and even exercise equipment.
At Adobe, which came third in the medium employer category, 96 per cent of staff say its a great place to work (Pictured, Adobe Australia employees)
Cisco lets its staff pick a ‘gift or experience’ on their first and fifth anniversary of joining the company
Its staff can even take painting classes together.
Salesforce not only allows staff to work from home at the hours staff decide, the company also helps to pay for ‘sprucing up’ their home office spaces.
Aussie-owned tech company Atlassian came third in the large company category and also offers financial support to staff to set up their ideal workspace.
Staff are allowed to work from home and only have to come together to collaborate face to face four times a year.
If they come into the office by bicycle, Atlassian staff are in luck. The company reimburses bike repairs, accessories, and rentals up to an agreed amount.
98 per cent of Adobe employees said they were proud to tell people where they worked
Salesforce not only allows staff to work from home at the hours staff decide, the company also helps to pay for ‘sprucing up’ their home office spaces (Pictured Salesforce Australia staff)
Employees get an extra three days off a year once they reach three years in the company then after five years of service, Atlassian will refund a staff member’s holiday.
The tech firm also does plenty to support staff mental health, including 10 video support sessions a year with a life coach and 10 in person sessions with a licensed therapist.
Hilton has a ‘debt-free education’ program for staff that allows them to study anything from university degrees or professional certifications, to learning English and completing high school to improving digital literacy.
It also lets staff book hotel rooms for as cheap as $35 a night.
Melbourne IT company Mantel Group won in the medium category, ahead of Adobe and SafetyCulture.
Hilton has a ‘debt-free education’ program for staff that allows them to study anything from university degrees or professional certifications, to learning English and completing high school
Employee-owned financial services and insurance company Howden Insurance Brokers took top spot for the small employer category.
Like most companies recognising that staff want their employers to offer activities and purpose as well as wages, Howden lines up charity fundraisers, ‘craft clubs’ and well-being workshops for employees.
But it’s most successful point of difference is that its employees are its largest shareholder group, owning about 35 per cent of the company.
‘This has a noticeable effect on the culture. Everyone has a voice,’ Howden’s website says.
In the UK, Howden’s employee ownership helped push the company’s share price grow eight-fold in just six years between 2016 and 2022.
At Mantel 98 per cent of staff said it was a great place to work because of its benefits such as counselling, access to dieticians, health leave, financial advice and equal-pay parental leave.
Mantel also helps staff map out a career path unique to them.
Mitchell, a data consultant with Mantel said the company ‘walks the walk’ on giving staff a life outside of work.
‘Since starting at Mantel, I have been able to get back into my old hobbies such as playing music and surfing because I have time after work and on weekends.
‘Mantel walks-the-walk when it comes to things like flexible working hours, generous leave entitlements and not having to be ‘online’ all the time.’
Queensland sales and marketing agency EFCOMM offers uncapped commissions to its sales team offered branded wrist watches to well performing staff.
The companies were shortlisted using analytics and confidential employee feedback.