What makes somewhere a great workplace?

Often, when you ask people about what they look for in an employer, the initial focus is on the benefits and perks that make a workplace more flexible, convenient or fun – but this is only part of the picture.

A substantial salary, generous employee benefits scheme, subsidised gym membership, and free onsite canteen might be enough to convince someone to join a company – but is it enough to get someone to stay?

It’s important to make sure that employees are well looked after and rewarded for their service; this is something that all companies should be able to achieve. But to create a great workplace – the kind of place that attracts, retains, and inspires the very best talent – requires more than just the fulfilment of basic, intrinsic human needs.

In this article, Chris Webb, HR Director, Domino Printing Sciences, explains why the foundations of any great workplace lie within a company’s culture, and outlines what he believes to be the magic formula for making somewhere a great workplace.

The purpose of a purpose

A great workplace cannot exist without a strong company purpose.

What is your company’s core reason for being? What unique and positive impact can you have on the world, and how do you intend to achieve this? Find the answer to these questions, and you have your purpose.

You might be asking how this relates to making somewhere a great workplace – let me explain.

Developing a coherent purpose helps to motivate and inspire employees, and, as such, is an essential part of any successful organisation. As human beings, we are inherently social, and so having a unifying belief that aligns us with our colleagues, and with a business as a whole, is crucial to feeling valued.

One of the biggest pitfalls in drafting a company purpose retrospectively is creating something which isn’t true to the business. A purpose needs to be honest and believable to be effective.

At Domino, for example, each word of our purpose was chosen carefully and meticulously, with input from across the whole organisation, in order to adequately reflect who we are as a business.

“To apply industrial printing expertise and reliable solutions to help the world’s manufacturers be sustainable and cut waste while attracting, informing, and protecting consumers.”

Our company purpose is the driving force behind all that we do at Domino – it reflects the importance of our employees and our history of expertise, describes our commercial strengths, underlines our commitment to our customers on a global level, and provides a roadmap for our future development and aspirations as a business.

Living by company values 

Company values are the principles that drive a business – those underlying philosophies that support the purpose by emphasising what a business and its employees stand for.

Values also provide insight into what each member of an organisation can expect from their colleagues and the business as a whole. When developed carefully, and truthfully, company values should act as a mirror for individuals, to assess how their actions echo those of the company that they work for. In this way, company values should resonate individually with each member of an organisation, providing an opportunity for self-reflection and learning.

In our case, our chosen values are ‘collaboration’, ‘listening’, ‘expertise’, ‘ambition’ and ‘responsibility’, which together create the acronym ‘CLEAR’.

A culture of collaboration ensures that everyone has an opportunity to express their ideas and to help improve the business. Collaboration helps to broaden perspectives and challenge conventional wisdom so that we can reach better outcomes, together.

One of the ways that we aim to collaborate more effectively is by listening.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is in the value of listening to the thoughts, ideas, and concerns of our colleagues and customers. As an employer and a business partner, we believe that a company can only succeed if it is willing to listen and learn from the combined experience of all those who work for, and with, it.

We are working to strengthen our expertise, by developing experience in all those areas that our customers turn to us to provide knowledge and understanding. This includes global regulations, Industry 4.0 and smart production, sustainability in manufacturing, and waste reduction.

This focus on building employees’ expertise represents an opportunity for everyone, as we embark on a journey of learning and development and invest in the experts of the future.

Our commitment to ambition is another part of this. We recognise that we have a strong legacy, and we want to make sure that we continue on this trajectory – and progression doesn’t come without challenging the status quo.

Employees need to be free to challenge the normal way of doing things, to share ideas, put forward suggestions, and not be afraid of making mistakes. We recognise the value to be found within a fresh perspective. An open mindset culture and setting challenging goals for continuous improvement allow us to keep evolving our business for growth.

Our fifth company value is reflected in a promise of responsibility. We have a responsibility to our customers to deliver on our promises and fulfil our role as a great business partner, we also have a responsibility to our stakeholders, to the communities in which we operate, and to the environment.

None of this can be achieved without a dedicated workforce.

In this way, I see our primary responsibility as being to our colleagues, to ensure their safety and wellbeing, and provide an environment where they can learn and develop, to be the best version of themselves, for their own benefit, and that of the business.

The magic formula

An honest purpose and a set of clear values together provide a shared framework and mindset for employees, a magic formula which, when done right, positively impact the employee experience and provide the building blocks of a truly great workplace.

Of course, competitive salaries and a generous employee benefits scheme are important – but they are just one small part of what makes a company a great workplace. A much bigger part of this is having something that everyone shares, everyone can believe in, and everyone can all work together to achieve.


By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.