High performance, fast-growing organisations also tend to get voted among the best workplaces in most surveys. Why is this so? One reason is that high-performance organisations typically adopt the best practices in all functions - and that includes HR, and workplace practices. The other reason is that employees are prone to rate professional growth opportunities as one of the priorities when evaluating a workplace. And only a company growing fast can meet the aspirations of growth of the bulk of its employees. Steady companies are inclined to provide lesser opportunities for all but the few exceptional performers.
Workplace expectations have changed dramatically over the years. From Independence to about 1980, job stability and a "professional" work culture were the most prized attributes of a job. By the 1990s, with liberalisation of the economy, new sectors opened up and for many employees, the attraction of working in a sunrise sector often became more important than finding a stable, well established company in a stodgy area of business. In that decade, sectors like automobiles, finance, and others offered highly prized jobs. By the turn of the century, IT and related services had become the most favoured sector, with telecom coming in a close second. The IT companies were not only growing extremely fast, they also offered other great perks - the chance of foreign travel, an opportunity to grow rich with ESOPs.
IT is still a favoured destination today, but some of the things valued most in a workplace have changed. Apart from compensation and growth opportunities, the most important things that the high-performance employee looks for are ethical standards, learning opportunities, workplace diversity, job flexibility, and work-life balance. Diversity and flexibility are particularly valued by women employees. The younger employees tend to look for entrepreneurial set-ups, and are quite often happy to trade job stability for the excitement of working in a start-up. In fact, two years ago, the e-commerce start-ups, with their promise to revolutionise the way things were done in different markets, had no problems attracting talent from some of the best known blue chip employers in the country. In the past one year, with the start-up space facing a funds squeeze and consolidation taking place, there has been a reversal of sorts with job stability again becoming an important consideration.
Given the war for talent, many of the things that were considered exceptional perks in the workplace even a decade ago have become hygiene practices for all good organisations. The HR departments spend considerable time to study best practices globally and try to constantly innovate to make the organisation more attractive for potential employees. Workplace design has become an increasingly important research area in its own right, as companies try to figure out how to keep employees happier and also make them more productive. The winners of the BT-PeopleStrong Best Companies to Work For survey show what it takes to attract the best talent today.