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What makes a great workplace?

December 10, 2014

Bain & Company tops several prestigious employer rankings this year. What sets it apart? More importantly, what can other companies learn from Bain about cultivating a satisfying working environment?

For the second year in a row, Forbes magazine cites global consulting giant Bain & Company as number one on its list of the Best Companies to Work For in 2014. The Boston based company outdid Twitter and LinkedIn who took second and third place. Forbes’ ranking is based on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work Employees’ Choice Awards, which rely solely on the input of employees who anonymously respond to a survey.

Good people, interesting and impactful work

According to the Bain employees who filled Glassdoor’s survey, the key qualities they appreciate in their company are “good people who help create a pleasant working culture and provide development and coaching opportunities” and “interesting and impactful work”.

To explore whether these traits are valued universally,Way Up sought the perspectives of two Konecranes employees.We asked them about the qualities that make a workplace attractive to jobseekers and the conditions that help employers hold on to their people. Their responses are strikingly similar to those of Bain’s employees.

The human factor

Philipp Wagner, Manager Projects Supply Chain, explains the deciding factors that led him to say yes to Konecranes Supply Chain in Künzelsau, Germany, when they offered him a position in 2011.

“A company’s reputation is important, but for me it’s not the main focus. The first personal impression you get, for example, from someone sitting across from you, is more important.” He recalls his initial visit to the company’s premises: “I was happy because I walked in and saw that everyone  had a smile on their face – there was no hurry, no rush. My first meeting was with the managing director and it was quite relaxed and nice. I think that’s the way it should be.”

Piia Linnainmaa, a reliability trainee at Konecranes in Hyvinkää, recalls one of her own first contacts with the company:

“To me, it’s crucial that  the interview process is professional. The discussion at my first interview showed me that the role being offered was truly meaningful and they wanted to get the right person for it,” she says.

Wagner and Linnainmaa are both unlike the typical jobseeker in that they have had the advantage of knowing what it’s like to work for the company before having to commit to a permanent position.

“The feeling was like a family – everybody was open. My social life within the workplace was very good, and I could easily identify with the company.These qualities are of very high value, much more important to me than money,” Wagner relates.

“These conditions made it very easy for me to say, yes, that’s my company.”

Linnainmaa’s experience has been similarly positive: “I have good coworkers.They are a major reason why I’ve really enjoyed the work. Also the company clearly trusts its employees. I see this in the challenging tasks that are given to me.”

Trust is fundamental

Trust is a concept that comes up often in the conversations with Linnainmaa and Wagner about their most critical requirements from an employer.

“If there were no trust, for example, between myself and my manager, the working atmosphere would be very poor. That would affect the attractiveness of the workplace. Even if the work tasks were interesting, going to work would be unpleasant,” reflects Linnainmaa.

“Good relationships, open and honest feedback, transparency and fairness, and trust between my superiors and myself are essential,” says Wagner.

“If all these are present, then I can have a harmonious working life. Then I can really be effective and deliver the highest value for the company,”  he states.

Meaningful work that makes a difference 

One of Linnainmaa’s and Wagner’s most vital expectations closely mirrors the responses to Glassdoor’s survey of Bain & Company – the work offered should be interesting and give the employee a chance to produce real results.

“I am motivated when I know that my work has meaning and I can change something for the better, that I won’t just be performing tasks because they have to be done,”  Linnainmaa says.

“If I had to search for a job today, I would seek a position where I would have the opportunity to make an impact on the company  – where I can develop something further. That would be very important  for me,” says Wagner.

“When work makes a difference, the chances are the job will be challenging  and at the same time offer you fulfillment too,” concludes Linnainmaa.

Piia Linnainmaa

Linnainmaa first joined Konecranes as a summer trainee doing materials research in 2012. She has worked at the headquarters in Hyvinkää, Finland in the summers since then, as well as part-time during school semesters. Her tasks have consisted of materials research and process development. She is currently writing her master’s thesis, which deals with ensuring crane reliability under various environmental conditions. 

Philipp Wagner

As part of his bachelor’s thesis, Wagner established a new export control process to ensure product and delivery safety and developed an export control program at Stahl in Künzelsau, Germany in 2011. He joined Konecranes Group as a permanent employee later the same year. Since then, he has worked on technology transfer projects in Hungary, supply logistics projects in Germany and currently on merger integration projects in Saudi Arabia.

 

Text: Patricia Ongpin Steffa
Illustration: Anton Yarkin

Fast File

About Glassdoor’s Employees’ Choice Awards

  • Winners are determined based on company reviews and ratings shared by employees on Glassdoor over the past year
  • Employees are encouraged to complete a brief online survey that asks them to rate their company, a variety of workplace attributes and their CEO.
  • The survey also asks employees to provide insights into some of the best reasons to work for their company as well as some of the downsides.
  • The reviews must be provided anonymously by employees, without incentive by employers.