Want to Work in the World’s Best Workplace? Work on Yourself First.

A re you crazy about your company? Or does it just drive you crazy? And if it’s the latter – what are you going to do about it?

Fortune magazine recently released its annual list of the 100 best companies to work for, with Google topping the rankings for the sixth year in a row. And it’s easy to see why, with its covetable combination of generous perks, employee-friendly policies and a safe, supportive work culture. As more and more organisations work to attract and retain the best people in their industries, it’s no wonder that prospective employees now join companies armed with some pretty high expectations.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having high expectations of your workplace. And let’s face it, all of us (not just much-maligned millennials) tend to operate from a certain sense of entitlement. However, we think it’s time to acknowledge that even the most appealing perks and policies are pointless without employees’ buy-in. So let’s stop for a minute and challenge ourselves to look at this from a different perspective. Instead of asking what’s in it for us, let’s explore what we as individuals contribute to our company’s work culture instead. We’ve given you a few points to consider below:

  • Are you clear on your company’s values? You should be.

  • Do you understand the core values of your organisation? “A lot of people can’t actually define the values of their company,” says PEPworldwide managing director Kathryn Anda. “If you can’t, you need to clarify what they are and what meaning they have for you.” And then consider how your individual actions contribute to that collective vision, she explains. “Ask yourself: do I live and breathe those values? And if not, how can I change my behaviour so that I do?”

  • Want to fire up that ‘feel-good’ factor? Practise what your company preaches.

  • Some of the most successful companies in the world have created a work culture which focuses on giving back to their communities rather than simply generating revenue. Salesforce.com, for example, has a “1:1:1” policy whereby one percent of the company’s time, one percent of their product and one percent of their profit go to charitable organisations, explains Stu Jones, a master solution engineer at the company. “I get seven days a year to spend on volunteering for charities and money to donate to a charity I like. This is great. But I also love talking about this with other companies – it makes me incredibly proud that I work for such a fantastic, progressive organisation. And when you get a confident, excited individual talking about their company, that enthusiasm rubs off on others. A number of organisations in New Zealand, like BNZ, have adopted similar philanthropic models.” Whatever your company’s policy, says Anda, “You need to ask yourself: what do I need to do to help my company achieve that goal?”

  • Something bothering you? Change it.

  • If you’re unhappy about an aspect of your work environment, address it, says Anda. “Don’t just sit in a moaning circle – look out. Take ownership of the problem: think about what exactly would make you happier at work. Identify what you can do to initiate change – and then start the ball rolling.”

Food for thought, then? Perhaps it’s time to revisit those great expectations and think about what you bring to the party. After all, it could be that one of the world’s best workplaces is one you’re in already. It’s up to you.