The Top 9 Qualities of a Great Workplace

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What makes a company a great place to work? It’s a question we often get asked – not only by those looking to achieve Top Workplace status, but also aspiring organizations that recognize a growing shift in their industry from profitability to personability.

With an ever-increasing demand for employee satisfaction in the workplace, these nine qualities are worth noting and adopting as best practices. They are the critical difference between a thriving company on its way to success and one that is treading water to stay afloat.

Leadership is involved and engaged

When leaders show they understand what’s going on in their organization and hold themselves to the same standard as everyone else, it’s easier for employees to get behind the company’s mission. It’s also one of the qualities of a good manager.

In fact, 83 percent of employees at Fortune 500 Best Companies to Work For® said their leadership lived out the same values expected of employees, making them more trustworthy. Compare that to only 42 percent of employees at average workplaces putting trust in their leadership.

Great leaders practice what they preach and they are also passionate advocates who take a stand on the issues impacting the world around them. In their own organization, leadership should be committed to boosting engagement, responsive to feedback and concerns, and advocate a healthy company culture.

Communication is a top priority

Communication tops the list when organizations ask what qualities make a company a great place to work. Open and timely communication builds transparency and trust that goes both ways, in addition to uniting employees and leadership under the same goals.

Companies that check in regularly with their employees through employee engagement surveys open the opportunity for communication that benefits all involved. Employees are able to share concerns and feel heard, while management can utilize employee survey insights to start important conversations that might otherwise have been missed. Feedback can also help leaders navigate organizational decisions with the employee’s best interests in mind.

A healthy company culture is intentional

Some companies offer employees stock options. Others, like Google, provide their employees with free meals at work, or in the case of Quicken Loans, a free arcade. But the great place to work criteria is about more than just fun employee perks.

Top Workplaces that have a satisfied workforce focus on ways to be intentional and improve company culture by consistently developing employee engagement, communication, and trust. A healthy company culture is also a powerful way to stand out, promote your unique brand, and make a statement to potential recruits.

Leadership understands threats and areas for improvement

No organization is perfect. Recognizing imperfections and gaining a clear perspective on employee engagement allows an organization to purposefully build a company culture that aligns with its values and goals.

Top Workplaces utilize employee feedback to better understand what makes a great workplace and also pinpoint areas where more effort is needed to create positive change. Transparency in this respect is often what makes a great workplace in the eyes of top talent who appreciate an organization that is committed to honesty and growth rather than denial and stagnation.

Innovation is critical to success

Innovation is at the heart of any successful company. Innovation keeps an organization at the top of their game, allowing them to flex their competitive muscles and take pride in the work they do.

Innovation also inspires employees to do great work and contribute toward the greater good of the company. Ensure employees feel safe to share their ideas with managers and even higher-ups. Employees know the day-to-day operations best after all – they might just be the source of your next great breakthrough.

Individuals are empowered to grow

The work-life balance is a war of sorts – we have to work to enjoy life away from work. But Top Workplaces see things from a different perspective. They understand that employees who are happy in life are also happy at work.

Offering plenty of opportunities for employees to learn and grow as individuals is an investment. It increases your organization’s talent pool and also makes it much easier to retain those skilled individuals for the long term while you continue to attract new talent.

The focus is on employees

Successful companies obviously do a number of things right, but it’s not always about the what as much as the how. Great workplaces have shifted their focus from getting the most out of their employees to giving back to their employees to ensure their needs are met. This translates to better business outcomes that are often a result of employee-focused decisions.

When organizations include employee survey data in their decision-making, they are able to go straight to the heart of the business and better understand where they fall short. Building on survey insights not only brings about legitimate, actionable change, it also lets your employees actively participate in the growth of the organization.

Compensation and benefits are competitive

Organizations that are truly people-focused and care about employee recruitment and retention compensate their employees appropriately and offer benefits their employees care about.

Compelling benefits might include two-way performance reviews, a living wage based on your location, a profit-sharing program, or wellness offerings like a free gym membership, free counseling sessions, and dedicated spaces for rest and renewal during the workday.

They stand out as an employer of choice

In today’s competitive marketplace, organizations often have to get creative to stand out in a crowd. Earning a Top Workplaces award is an achievement in and of itself. But it also bolsters your brand, empowers your employees, and identifies your organization as a force to be watched.

This attracts prospective employees that might have not otherwise been drawn to your company. It also impacts business outcomes, as companies may favor working with an award-winning company over the rest.

How Top Workplaces helps companies achieve results

Companies that aspire to achieve Top Workplaces status and participate in the program experience a revolutionary way to bring about lasting, profitable change for their employees as individuals and their organization as a united whole. These results impact:

  • Employee Engagement: When employees are engaged they are inspired to give it their all and feel a sense of accomplishment in the work they do. They connect with the organization’s mission and are committed to achieving shared success.
  • Employee Recruitment and Retention: Recruitment and retention can weigh heavily on an organization’s budget and can even lead to an organization’s decline if turnover becomes too high. Top Workplaces utilize their recognition to boost their brand, attract top talent and keep it for the long term, saving time, effort, and expense that all contribute to a stronger bottom line.
  • Employee Survey Insights: Data-driven decisions are part of what makes a great workplace. Top Workplaces define their business strategies according to the feedback they receive from those who know their organization the best – their employees.
  • Business Outcomes: Organizations that are clued-in to their employees through employee engagement surveys are able to make critical decisions with confidence. These organizations have a more committed and satisfied workforce as well as better business outcomes that take them from one success to the next.


Show the nation you’re organization is a great place to work. Nominate your company for a Top Workplaces award.

The October 2021 Top Workplaces National Awards are now live! Go here to see the online, virtual reveal.