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Australia’s number one place to work

After surveying a total of 179 companies, Business Review Weekly has revealed the 50 best places to work in Australia, based on employee satisfaction and audits on managers to establish their efforts in creating a great working environment.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the list wasn’t dominated by large organisations this year as the economic downturn continues to take its toll. Due to the vast number of positions that have been made redundant or offshored, many employees in these larger companies felt nervous about their positions or felt unappreciated or depressed in many circumstances.

Instead, it was the year for smaller companies with high frequency trading company, Optiver, taking the reins as the best place to work, after coming in at number 22 in 2012. According to BRW, its win wasn’t about the “perks” or the subsidized dinners or extra holidays, but rather based on the atmosphere of the company, where one employee described the work as being “almost addictive”.

The company, which has no clients, makes its money purely from identifying and capitalizing on market imbalances. A stylish building, open communication – where there are “no barriers” between employees and Optiver’s Australian CEO, Paul Hughes – and the hiring of team players with brilliant minds all contribute towards the ideal workplace seen at Optiver. Hughes stated “if you have the best skills but you can’t work in a team then you won’t belong here” – highlighting the importance of culture.

In prior years, the list has largely been dominated by subsidiaries of large US companies, such as Google Australia (NASDAQ: GOOG) or Diageo Australia (NYSE: DEO). Neither received a mention this year, whilst Australian listed company Silver Chef (ASX: SIV) came in at number 22.

Meanwhile, although Quicksilver was one company that has made a number of positions redundant in recent times, the way that it was handled and the “levels of engagement” that were maintained were enough to ensure the Torquay (Victoria) based company the number 42 spot on the list. The company remained open about their performance against their targets at all times, which meant that employees understood the necessity behind any tough decisions being made.

Foolish takeaway

A famous American author by the name of Peter Drucker once said “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Companies that maintain excellent working conditions for their employees are often well rewarded. Happy employees will often work harder and more efficiently and work as a team to achieve great results, provide outstanding customer service and thus, keep customers coming back for more. Although there weren’t many ASX listed companies that made it to the top 50 this year, investors should take note of the culture of companies they are to invest their money in – it can often help to determine the direction of the company.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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