Is your organization a great place to work?

Are you a student wondering who your first employer will be? Or, you might be already employed. In case it is the latter, are you working in a great place to work?

Are you a student wondering who your first employer will be? Or, you might be already employed. In case it is the latter, are you working in a great place to work?

To answer the above question you may like to clarify in your own mind what a great place to work is. Is it an organization that has great compensation and perks, or great career opportunities? What about learning opportunities and work-life balance? Is it possible to have it all?

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula or one standard definition of a great place to work. Many organizations, including my own, have defined it based on their research. While each great workplace is unique, we do know what stops an organization from being a great workplace. I will enumerate a few reasons in this column. If your experience is not that of a great workplace, tell me if the reason is one of these:

1. I don’t trust my boss- Shyama is a product manager who worked hard on a new product idea in an FMCG company. Her boss kept encouraging her. However, once the product was launched it was the boss who took all the credit (and the promotion). Shyama decided to quit.

2. The bosses take all the money – The sales team of a pharmaceuticals company worked tirelessly to achieve 50 per cent more than the budget. While the sales representatives received double the regular incentives, the sales manager and his senior colleagues were given four times their regular variable pay. Most sales representatives did not view it as fair.

3. Blue eyed boys - The CEO of one organization was perceived to be partial to one of the employees who was promoted without following the laid down process. While this set tongues wagging, very little could be done by the people. They made sure, however, to fill the ears of the new CEO who replaced the old one. The person who had received a promotion was soon forced to leave. The organization, however, had no process to highlight discrepancy in behaviour of individual employees, particularly senior managers.

4. Does anyone really care? – Most organizations have processes in place to recognise and deal with who they consider as high performers or low performers. There is very little focus on the vast majority, also known as “solid citizens.”

5. I do not get straight answers to my reasonable questions– Organisations spend a lot of effort in internal communication. However, the focus is on what the management wants to communicate and not as much on answering what is bothering people. Ramesh is a software engineer who has worked in one organization for 4 years. In a recent “Townhall” meeting he and others were informed that the compensation levels of the organization was competitive based on a benchmarking exercise done by an external agency. Ramesh wanted to know why newly recruited software engineers with similar experience were being paid more than his salary, considering he had acceptable performance levels. However, he was informed that this was a personal issue and a Townhall was not the right forum to address personal issues. Ramesh had no clue as to which was the right forum. He asked his boss but his boss quickly deflected the question to the Human Resources (HR) department. HR informed him that an internal equity assessment is done once in two years, and any anomalies would be corrected the next time it was done. Ramesh felt he did not get a straight answer for his question.

Are there really great workplaces? What is different in those organizations? In this column we will talk about different aspects of great workplaces. Do write in with your experience of your workplace.

Prasenjit Bhattacharya is CEO of The Great Place to Work® Institute, India. Views expressed are personal. Prasenjit can be contacted at