From the MD: It’s A Matter of Trust

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As the sun sets on 2023, I find myself at the intersection of reflection and anticipation. It’s been a year of immense growth and learning at Great Place To Work® ASEAN and ANZ. Reflecting back, what key lessons can we carry into the new year?

Prioritizing Employee Well-Being

We began 2023 with a dedicated focus on employee well-being.

Our LinkedIn polls that we conducted across ASEAN and Australia indicated a unanimous intent among HR and business leaders to prioritize this aspect. However, as the year unfolded, broader market concerns like inflation, layoffs, recessions, the rise of generative AI, and global conflicts began to overshadow this focus.

Embracing the Era of Generative AI

The mass appeal of generative AI has been a defining feature of 2023, which has sparked many debates about the future of human work. In these discussions, a key message that is coming out is the reassurance of our workforce that there will be a place for them in the workplace while witnessing progressive companies rapidly integrating AI into their operations. This technological leap has been less about displacement and more about enhancing productivity and innovation, and has stirred conversations about the future of work, particularly around human-AI collaboration.

My colleague wrote a thoughtful piece that is helpful as organizations intensify the adoption of AI in the workplace.

Leadership Behavior: A Pivotal Driver of Employee Experience

Publishing 16 National Best WorkplacesTM Lists across Singapore, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia was a significant milestone for us. Our analysis of the dataset, representing the voices of 740,000 employees across all the 5 markets revealed leadership behavior as a critical driver of employee experience, a finding echoed by Josh Bersin’s study, which emphasizes the significant impact of leadership on workplace dynamics.

We’re excited to delve deeper into this topic in our upcoming regional Insights Report due in the first quarter of 2024.

If there is one thing I have learnt working with Best Workplaces over the past 9 years, it is that great workplaces are not made up of individual superstars. It takes everyone in an organization to create a great workplace for all.

Seeing the impact of leadership behavior on employee experience, at the Best Workplaces Award in Singapore this year, we introduced the Leadership in Action Award.

The Leadership in Action awards were given to organizations whose leadership teams, i.e. leaders across all levels of the organization, have received the strongest validation from their employees.

Leaders have not had the easiest time in recent years and as much as we need to hold leaders accountable to high standards, we need to encourage the heart of leaders as well. Our team hopes the recognition sends a message to leaders that they matter too.

Pulling the Threads Together

Employee well-being, generative AI, and leadership – these diverse themes converge on a single message: Building Trust.

It is all too easy to get swept up with new trends, top concerns and pressing priorities. Regardless of context or situations, organizations and leaders cannot take our eyes off taking care of people, helping them adapt and thrive in rapidly changing environments. When the stakes are high and the future uncertain – the need to dig deeper and build trust with employees and key stakeholders is even greater.

Some might say that trust is an old-fashioned word, often enacted in movies, idealized in novels, or lost in the nostalgia of simpler times. But I believe that trust is neither old-fashioned nor out of reach.

It is real, tangible, and more critical than ever in our rapidly evolving corporate landscape.

Looking Ahead

At Great Place To Work, ‘purpose’ has been our guidepost for the past two years, reminding us of our ‘why’. For 2024, ‘growth’ is my guiding word. Drawing inspiration from autistic mixed media artist Morgan Harper Nichols, I am inspired by the concept of ‘growth’ in all its forms. For me, I carry the lesson of building trust with the ‘stakeholders’ in my life while seeking growth.

Growth manifests differently for each of us. What does growth look like for you in the workplace, as a leader, and in your personal life?

In 2024, we will publish the 3rd Vietnam Best Workplaces List. It’s been 10 years since we started this mission of building great workplaces for all in ASEAN, starting from our humble office in Singapore. This is a growth we will be celebrating and more details will be shared.

May 2024 be the beginning of a personal and corporate growth journey, one that recognizes the unique transformation we are about to embark on.

Yours for growth,

Evelyn Kwek

Evelyn is the Managing Director for Great Place to Work®️ in ASEAN and ANZ. Heading the expansion of Great Place to Work®️ offices in ASEAN, Evelyn is convinced that just as the region is growing exponentially on the economic front, the work of building great workplaces For All™ must go in tandem with economic growth.

A proud mother of 3, Evelyn takes parenting very seriously – she is strict yet giving, result-focused yet generous. Together with husband Roland, they relish exploring new cultures and beautiful places of the world, usually on leisurely self-drive holidays, before the days of Covid.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.