By Director of Culture and Associates Tamsen Garrie.
I recently attended the Great Place To Work For All Summit in sunny San Francisco with five of my wonderful colleagues from Nurseline Healthcare, the company for which I’ve been Director of Culture for five years.
The Great Place to Work For All Summit is the can’t-miss event for culture, people and business leaders who are passionate about creating amazing workplaces for all.
Attending this summit was a dream-come-true for me. Having first heard about this extraordinary organisation back in 2015, I have wanted to attend their global summit ever since.
It was an incredible event and a hugely inspiring experience and one that had me return to the UK, a different person to the one that left: still with the belief that organisational success is directly linked to people success, but with renewed confidence that cultural change can be achieved, no matter what the size of the organisation and no matter what has gone before, when it has the right leader.
I thought I’d share some of the content from the three day event as well as my personal highlights here.
Read about Great Place To Work here
Great Place To Work® began with an unexpected discovery in 1981, when a New York editor asked two business journalists – Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz – to write a book called The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America. Though the pair were skeptical they could find 100 companies that would qualify, they agreed, starting a journey that would lead to more than 30 years of researching, recognising and building great workplaces.
These insights led to the founding of Great Place to Work Institute and business leaders around the world have since adopted the Institute’s models and methodology as a way of creating and measuring great workplaces. Today it operates in over 50 countries, including the UK.
Great Place to Work® is now the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures and over 10 million employees in 50 countries take the Trust Index© Employee Survey, its proprietary research tool every year.
HIGHLIGHT NUMBER 1
I was privileged to meet Robert Levering in person on day two , who despite selling the company five years ago, still attends the summit each year, and to get the opportunity to hear about this journey first hand.
We heard personal stories from executive leaders of many of the Fortune 100 Best companies and about some of the innovative people-led strategies being adopted by them, as well as cutting-edge insights from Great Place to Work themselves.
Mostly, we heard how great workplaces are better for business, better for people and better for the world.
Particularly inspiring was the opening keynote from GPTW CEO, Michael C Bush himself who said that it’s time for businesses to be a force for good and that this needs to be led by purpose-driven leaders.
I absolutely loved Michael’s use of the caterpillar as a powerful analogy to demonstrate our ‘call to purpose’ as leaders.
Read about GPTW CEO, Michael C Bush here
Michael C. Bush is the CEO of Great Place to Work®, Inc. With offices is 58 countries, GPTW surveys over 10 million employees each year and produces FORTUNE magazine’s 100BEST Companies to Work For list.
Michael joined Great Place to Work® in 2015 at a time of rapid growth for the company, and brought with him over 30 years experience growing consulting organisations and increasing efficiencies of innovative business units.
Michael received his M.S. in Management from The Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and is an advisor to the board of Inner City Advisors and a founding board member of the private equity seed-fund, Fund Good Jobs. He also taught entrepreneurship courses at Stanford University and Mills College and was a member of President Obama’s White House Business Council.
You can read Michaels LinkedIn post on the topic here.
HIGHLIGHT NUMBER 2
My colleague and CEO of Nurseline Healthcare, Trevor Mapondera and I had the great honour of being invited to meet with Great Place To Work, CEO Michael C Bush in his suite on day 3 of the summit to talk about how we can best support GPTW UK, to enable UK organisations to adopt the GPTW ethos and methodologies.
I also took the opportunity to have my copy of his book ‘A Great Place To Work For All‘ signed by the man himself!
We later heard from Aron Ain, CEO of Kronos who shared his view that there is a direct correlation between business success and how you treat people.
He talked about making culture a strategic priority and I was particularly inspired by the value he placed on human relationships in business success and how he described trust as being the magic glue that holds personal relationships together.
If you’ve heard any of our team speak, or attended any of our training, you’ll know that we share this view.
“Let people know you trust them. Trust them to start with and have them un-earn it”
Read about Kronos CEO, Aron Ain here
Aron Ain joined Kronos in 1979 and, as the only company he’s ever worked for, he has played a role in nearly every functional department at the company.
He fiercely contends that great businesses are powered by great people and that there is a direct link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and business success and since becoming CEO in 2005, he and his team have put a laser focus on employee engagement as a growth strategy. As a result they have seen worldwide employee engagement scores skyrocket as revenue nearly tripled to beyond $1.5 billion.
With more than 40,000 organisations using Kronos solutions across 110+ countries, Kronos is a leading global provider of workforce management and human capital management cloud solutions.
Regarded as a pioneer in workforce management and human capital management, he has been instrumental in revolutionising the way organisations manage their workforces with a new generation of products and services that empower employees to work smarter, work their way, and work in a modern cloud.
HIGHLIGHT NUMBER 3
I managed to catch up with Aron briefly after waiting in line to get his book,
‘Work Inspired’ signed and was struck by his humility when he asked ‘How did I do?’ in relation to his talk. How did I do? “Brilliantly” I said. And he smiled and said: “Thank you, now go and make your organisation a great place to work!”.
Learning was a theme throughout the summit:
With Jennifer Morgan, co-CEO of SAP stating, from her experience:
“As you progress, you realise just how much more of a student you need to be.
As a leader, be obsessed with learning”
I was pleased to see mental health and wellbeing firmly on the agenda and the recognition that a focus on mental health is essential for a more successful organisation and not simply a nice-to-have.
I enjoyed a number of conversations with different leaders around how an increased focus on raising mental health awareness and equipping managers with the knowledge, skills and confidence to more effectively promote wellbeing is having a direct impact on organisational success.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
I even had one leader ask me to quote to deliver some training at her San Francisco-based company later this year as she was inspired by our commercially focused approach.
We explored diversity in some depth, from gender, age and race, through to disability and neuro-diversity and in one seminar we learnt how some progressive organisations are actively tapping into the Autism community and seeking out people with autism and other neuro-developmental conditions, to work within their organisations, recognising the unique value they can bring to problem solving and innovative products, services and solutions. It really opened my eyes to the true meaning of the term ‘diversity’.
“Bring everything you are.
Become everything you want”.
And we heard how harnessing the energy and innovation of a global team of 100,000 employees was responsible for one of the biggest turnarounds in the transportation industry. Recognising that it didn’t matter where he looked for efficiencies and savings, how much new business he tried to attract or what new technology he invested in, Ken Allen, CEO of DHL recognised that change wouldn’t happen fast enough, or be sustainable if he didn’t prioritise engaging the hearts and minds and looking after the wellbeing of his people. As a result, DHL is now recognised as the fourth best place to work on the planet.
Read about DHL CEO, Ken Allen here
Ken Allen is Global CEO of DHL Express, a Euro 15 Billion revenue division of Deutsche Post DHL. Under his leadership, the company reversed over a decade of poor financial performance and declining market share, delivering one of the biggest global turnarounds in the history of transportation.
He is proud to have run ‘the Most International Company in the World’ and believes in the responsibility of business to contribute to building a fairer, happier and sustainable environment.
His aspiration is for DHL to be the best in the world and an example of the World at its best.
HIGHLIGHT NUMBER 4
My colleagues and I nabbed a copy of Ken Allen’s book ‘Radical Simplicity‘ and whilst getting it signed by the man himself, spent some time speaking with this wonderfully down to earth man from West Yorkshire. I will always remember how he took the time to find out about each of us and to pose for a picture.
Finally, to the man who made it possible.
I was so privileged to be invited to attend this summit by my colleague, mentor and friend Trevor Mapondera and to experience first hand the ethos behind the organisation that has inspired his commitment and investment in the work we have done together to create the culture at Nurseline Healthcare, a culture that has enabled its growth and the subsequent development of what is now The Catalyst Care Group of companies, all committed to providing the most trusted staffing solutions to private care providers and a great place to work for all by 2025.
I can’t wait for next year!
About the Author
Tamsen is an HR professional with a background in the corporate sector, over 10 years experience as a consultant, developing organisations and their people and over 6 years running her own mental health practice. As a result, she is very familiar with the challenges faced by organisations and their people in the modern business world.
Today she works with organisations to create a culture of people wellbeing to enable them to create the conditions where people are able to contribute the best of themselves so that the organisation thrives by default.
She is also a speaker on Mental Health Awareness & Management, Leadership & Team Alignment and Cultural Change.