Building a great company culture is fundamental for a company to rise in exogenous aspects. In February 2020, SD Worx was attributed the Great Place To Work Certification for 2020. But what does it mean to be a great place to work? That’s what we’re going to figure out for you. On the menu:
- Creating new possibilities to strengthen company culture
- Building an innovation mindset
- Designing a workplace balance
- Listen and implement symbols
- Understanding your gaps
- Put happiness in the center
- Generate a great work attitude
- Empower people
- A leaders fundamental skill to initiate a strong company culture
- Open the doors of your company to spread your culture
- Putting in place inside upskilling
- Challenging people
- Definition of success to manage a great company culture
1- What is Great Place to Work?
Let’s start by the beginning. What is the great place to work certification?
Great Place to Work comes from Robert Levering, an American journalist in the 70’s. He was roaming all the United States to find out what companies were deemed to be the best to work for. He was publishing his results in a San Francisco newspaper. In 1981 an editor discovered Levering’s work and asked him to write a book about the 100 best places to work for in America with Milton Moskowitz. The book was an amazing New York Times best seller. As such, in 1992 Great Place to Work was founded.
Today Great Place to Work is prowling the world by enabling companies to grow their workplace culture for the better. Every company can try gaining the certification. The study takes place in two steps. A first survey is made to measure the trust index in the company. The trust index is composed of 5 dimensions:
Once a TRUST INDEX of at least 70% is reached, a full company culture audit is conducted by the Great Place to Work team to assess the business and HR practices in place.
According to Patrick Dumoulin the President of Great Place to Work France: “It’s the strong leadership effectiveness associated with strong values that make the success of SD Worx”. SD Worx will be joining the 3 other Mauritian companies that gained the certification: The LUX group, The Attitude group and CMH group.
2 – Exclusive insights from Ashvin Pudaruth, CEO of SD Worx Mauritius
So now, how to create and nurture and great place to work? We got an exclusive meeting with Mr. Ashvin Pudaruth who accepted to share with us what it means to be a great place to work.
1) Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
By profession, I’m a Software engineer and I have been in the market for more than 20 years. I was very passionate about software development for a long time. Then circumstances of my career moved me to consultancy, project management, and eventually to the outsourcing world which I find very exciting and that’s why I’m at SD Worx. What you see at SD Worx is a combination technology, innovation and a true passion for human capital development
2) Can you tell us more about SD Worx? Does SD Worx support any pursuit/commitment outside of work?
SD Worx is the second-largest organization specialized in HR and Payroll services in Europe. We’re present in 9 countries in Europe plus in Mauritius. The things that we really believe in are values such as openness, respect and trust. These reflect both in the way we set up our office and in the way we interact with our colleagues.
As you know, contributing to a CSR fund is a requirement in Mauritius. We contribute to CSR and we try to partner with organizations that we support financially in their projects. We also want our colleagues and ourselves to invest our time and energy to support these causes that we believe in.
On top of that, I’m very happy that our colleagues at SD Worx have set up their own registered charitable association, known as the Payback association, which supports needy children and vulnerable groups. Our colleagues organise their own fund raising and promotional activities. The association was set-up in 2016 and running it has also promoted leadership development for the members. Functions are available to all colleagues who want to join the committee, through annual elections.
Key Takeaway 1 : Work is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to company culture. Nurturing other possibilities for colleagues to make an impact is important.
3) Could you tell us more about the company culture at SD Worx? What values are important to you and how do you experience them in your organization?
Openness for example is something which is super important at SD Worx. We really want a culture in which everyone feels totally free to: challenge, disagree with anybody else and come forward to propose ideas. If you don’t have an open mind, it’s very difficult to have an innovative culture. Lots of people talk about innovation in Mauritius but the truth is if the mind is not free how do you innovate? It’s just not possible.
It’s the same for respect. I don’t personally believe in hierarchy. People must deserve respect and it must be both ways. So we promote a culture where everyone is equal, we just have different role in the organization but fundamentally as human beings we are all equals and deserve the same amount of respect.
Key Takeaway 2: Innovation comes with openness of the mind and mutual respect. Horizontal management can help in creating this mindset.
4) What are the benefits you propose that other companies don’t? Where can talents find all those benefits?
The office environment is of course important. However my true belief is that physical layouts & benefits are not big differentiators. There are many very nicely set up companies. What matters more is how people feel when they come to work. It’s much more about human connections rather than office facilities and benefits. The best way to understand this is to experience it!
Key Takeaway 3: How people feel in an organization can overpower other variables. The key is to create a balance between them.
5) What is the craziest thing your team accomplished?
I think doing this office was quite a daring thing to do. To install slides into our office, to crane a van to the 12th floor… More than crazy, these are symbols that if you really want to do something, you can. The symbol of the slide for example is: let go of your mental barriers, don’t be afraid of the perception of others. It’s about freedom.
But we do quite a few crazy things once in a while. For example we have crazy hair day, when colleagues can do whatever they want with their hair or even come to work fully disguised. Doing something like this is also linked to the idea that anyone can come forward with any kind of idea, and they will be taken into account. We have developed simple mechanisms that enable us to listen to our colleagues’ ideas and execute them. We systematically sit down with people and listen to them.
Key Takeaway 4: People have ideas, listening and acknowledging them will help the organization in the best possible way
6) Why was it important for you to get the Great Place To Work Certification?
Quite simply we started with a genuine desire to improve our work culture and gain insights into our gaps. Given that Great Place to Work is the global leader in assessing work cultures, we chose them to give us a true picture of where we are, where we were doing well and where we needed to do better.
So we started our journey in 2018. This first exercise gave us good pointers as to the areas in which we needed to focus our energy. The one area that had the most impact was ‘listening’.
Key Takeaway 5: Understanding the organizations gaps and iterate to correct them as much as it is needed.
7) What impact will the Great Place to Work Certification have on your employer branding? Do you expect more applications coming?
A key point for me was to benchmark our culture with what are considered best-in-class worldwide. Therefore, having been certified now gives us an even greater motivation to improve further. The hope is that having a culture built on trust, collaboration, and strong values is something which will motivate our colleagues to develop a great, long-term career with SD Worx. It will also be great if as a consequence of enjoying a motivating work culture, our colleagues speak to other people positively about SD Worx. Indirectly, there will be a positive consequence to attract talent, even if it’s not the driving motive to embark on the Great Place To Work journey.
Key Takeaway 6: nurturing a great company culture with happiness at its center can turn your colleagues into brand ambassadors.
8) What message would you like to share potential candidates? What qualities are necessary to be successful at SD Worx?
We need people who believe in equality, respect, trust and openness. Not everybody does. Some people are very hierarchical in their thinking and are attached to job titles and spans of control. We seek people who are collaborative and want to succeed in teams. This is important. People who will be happy at SD Worx are ambitious but yet collaborative and who also want the success of other people around them. Skills can be learned through training, attitude can’t.
Key Takeaway 7: Attitude is crucial to make it work.
9) How do you make your employees feel so good at work?
The truth is you cannot make people feel happy or motivated. It must come from them. This is why we empower people and give them the possibility to influence things that matter to them.
When people are empowered and motivated, they positively transform the micro culture around them. I always tell people that companies don’t have a single uniform culture but is very often a collection of sub-cultures. Those microcosms create the company culture. We just need to provide space for people to express themselves and be free. This is the key point, lots of companies try to do lots of things for employees, rather than empowering them to transform things for themselves and around.
Key Takeaway 8: Empowering people will bring them happiness as they can influence their microcosm.
10) If you had one great advice to give to other companies to improve their company culture and employee engagement, what would it be?
The most impactful thing for me was to listen to our colleagues more and act on their inputs. Colleagues have great ideas and it’s the same everywhere. It’s just a matter of having the right environment for their ideas to get expressed and heard. This often depends on the degree of trust that exists within the organization.
Key Takeaway 9: Listening is a fundamental skill to have as a leader.
11) BPO’s have a poor reputation in Mauritius, how did you surpass that and enlightened the human side of it?
There are a lot of misconceptions about organisations in the outsourcing sector. The reality is that this sector generally provides good benefits and working environments. It is unfortunate that most people don’t know about them. If you visit nearly any company in our sector, it is very likely that you’ll find that it’s the case.
The sector has transformed considerably over the years and it’s a growing and promising sector for Mauritius. I believe it is important for our sector to be more visible to the public, including through the use of social media or others, to dispel the common myths about our sector. We also need people to come and see what it’s really like. We are very open to visitors who want to visit our workplace.
Key Takeaway 10: Don’t hesitate to do open days to make people experience your company.
12) What challenges do you think the ICT / BPO sector will be facing in the future?
The 1st challenge is the availability of resources. It is very important to encourage and motivate young people to get into the fields of study required in our sector. A key one is software engineering, for which there is great demand. The sector could double in size in the next 5 years if we had the labour force to support that.
The second point that would boost the sector and bring in more foreign investment is more competitively priced high-speed connectivity.
Finally, the whole country would benefit from having more incentives to promote training, upskilling and certification of IT professionals.
Key Takeaway 11: Inside training is never a waste, growing your co-workers skills will only be beneficial for the company.
13) How do you fight turnover which is particularly high in your sector?
On work culture and values. For me these are fundamental. Of course, remuneration, benefits and facilities are all very important to everyone, but in our sector they’re not the most significant differentiators.
Key Takeaway 12: creating a free to be your true self environment will always have a greater weight in the balance.
14) What is your vision for SD Worx in the future?
We have clear plans to grow significantly in Mauritius. We want to extend our services to other European countries and in doing so, we’re going to bring even more challenging opportunities for IT professionals in Mauritius.
Key Takeaway 13: Everybody loves a challenge, especially young generations who are eager to learn.
15) Last question, what motto do you live by as a leader?
I don’t have a motto *laughs*. But what matters the most to me is to contribute to making people around me as successful as they can be. If people around me are successful, they create success for the company.
Key Takeaway 14: Find ways to make others grow side by side with you.
Key Takeaway 15: Your success as a leader is as good as others.
In conclusion, creating a great company culture is not so much a challenge that the real will to get better in a human sense. SD Worx teaches us a lot on employer branding and how it is not a final goal but rather a consequence of all the actions taken in the meantime.
Here is a sum-up of the key takeaways we learned through Mr. Pudaruth’s interview:
- Work is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to company culture. Nurturing other possibilities for colleagues to make an impact is important.
- Innovation comes with openness of the mind and mutual respect. Horizontal management can help in creating this mindset.
- How people feel in an organization can overpower other variables. The key is to create a balance between them.
- People have ideas, listening and acknowledging them will help the organization in the best possible way
- Understanding the organizations gaps and iterate to correct them as much as it is needed.
- Nurturing a great company culture with happiness at its center can turn your colleagues into brand ambassadors.
- Attitude is crucial to make it work.
- Empowering people will bring them happiness as they can influence their microcosm.
- Listening is a fundamental skill to have as a leader.
- Don’t hesitate to do open days to make people experience your company.
- Inside training is never a waste, growing your co-workers skills will only be beneficial for the company.
- Creating a free to be your true self environment will always have a greater weight in the balance.
- Everybody loves a challenge, especially young generations who are eager to learn.
- Find ways to make others grow side by side with you.
- Your success is as good as others.
Want to work for SD Worx? Discover their open positions here.