6 Characteristics Of A Truly Great Workplace

two men and a woman in business attire jumping for joy What is the perfect place to work? An office where every employee gets an annual 10 percent raise? And nobody ever gets fired? And the CEO knows everyone's name? And there are free massages and volleyball courts and barrels of candy apples?

None of the above. Rob Goffee of London Business School and Gareth Jones of IE Business School have spent three years asking hundreds of executives this exact question. Six qualities stood out, they found, which they revealed in this month's Harvard Business Review.

And ultimately they seem to boil down to a single nugget: Make employees feel like they're not just mindless slaves of shareholder value. 1. Let You Do You

The best company is one that nurtures individual differences, the researchers found, and not just EEO-related differences like race, religion and gender. We're talking the guy who likes to work from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. The woman who does her best work while pacing and humming the theme song from "Charles in Charge." Letting wildly different personalities and skills sets come together, be themselves, and mix it up, the researchers found, ups productivity and innovation.

More: Fortune 500: 10 Best Companies To Work For In 2013

2. No Spin Zone

Human beings do not like being lied to. And they don't like being lied to by the organizations to which they dedicate their days. Obviously. But many managers prefer to withhold negative news from their employees, the researchers found, or at least put a positive spin on it. Yet they say the best workplaces override the secretive instinct, and err on the side of radical honesty.

3. Add Value To The Valuable

During the recession, many companies tried to extract as much work as possible from their employees at the lowest cost. This might be good for the bottom line in the short term, but those employees are far more likely to jump ship as soon as a better offer comes along. Smarter workplaces focus more on lowering turnover, according to Goffee and Jones. They identify their most promising workers, and invest the heck out of them with training programs, challenging assignments and networking opportunities.

4. Stand For Something

People like to feel their lives have purpose. This is not shocking. Some companies might have a more clearly noble vision, like a hospital (save lives!) or Facebook (connect everyone to everyone and their mom!). But the researchers say that any company can adopt a culture that transcends mere nickels and dimes.

More: 8 Qualities The Best Employees Have

5. Make It Make Sense

If employees aren't sure of the value of what they're doing, or how it fits into the whole, it can be a sucker punch to morale. Goffee and Jones say it helps when workers have a lot of freedom to carry out projects in their own way, and there are clear paths for moving up.

6. No Dumb Rules

Rules are important, the researchers agree. But arbitrary rules make people feel like screaming. Employees will embrace structures that make sense to them, but layers of bureaucracy can end up strangling the soul. And at the workplace of your dreams, they say, the reason wouldn't just be profits.

"What workers need is a sense of moral authority," Goffee and Jones write, "derived not from a focus on the efficiency of means but from the importance of the ends they produce."

What qualities do YOU think make the best work environment? What traits would you add to this list?

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barrybarrysteep1

No double standart!

May 17 2013 at 6:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dsbroyles

City employees have it the toughest. The citizen seems to dictate policy almost on a daily basis. All it takes is one phone call to a councilman

May 17 2013 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rmeccar

I've experienced the negative aspect of #2 and 5 at a large manufacturing company and it messed me up badly.

May 16 2013 at 5:07 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
kaylee50

And all these qualities of a great workplace are exactly what the education system is trying to currently kill. Teachers must walk in lock step to an arbitrary test or be in fear of losing their job. Great. That's just what we need. You think we have a problem with the drop out rate now...just wait. Every day more and more students are getting discouraged and turned off. Please stop the madness!

May 16 2013 at 4:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kaylee50's comment
Meaghan

Amen, Kaylee!!! That is where it begins and ends!!! I was a teacher for 25+ years and it used to be a wonderful career where we could actually TEACH!!! We were able to add our own creativity to the curriculum and grab and keep the students' attention. Now...ever since the standardized tests became the ONLY aspect to education, all creativity has been banned from our schools! Including the creativity used in teaching a lesson! It discusses me to no end!!! I quit teaching when I could no longer TEACH! I did not want to conform to the "standards".

May 16 2013 at 5:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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