Cultivating a Culture of Safety and Its Positive Effects on Hybrid Work Setups

ANTONIETTE MENDOZA-TALOSIG

Author

Antoniette Mendoza-Talosig

Author

CATEGORIES

Categories

Audio from CEO-Masterclass # 1 with Cisco.

Through the years, especially during COVID-19’s zenith, we’ve seen how the systems and practices ingrained in our workplaces have evolved. Great workplaces have made an effort to both redefine what once was the norm and transition to definitions that are more people-centric. Out of the many mindsets that have been reconstructed, one is what “workplace safety” portends.

What comes to mind when you come across the word “safety” in the context of the workplace? Perhaps your thoughts lean towards minimizing encounters of accidents and injuries. However, the times have deconstructed that notion. Today, it not only covers the physical aspect but also adopts the psychological element. Together, this becomes a holistic take on what modern workplace safety is.

Looking back at the 2018 Great Place to Work ® Asia Insights Report, a psychologically safe environment is defined as a space where “interpersonal trust exists, mutual respect is given daily, and where people are comfortable being themselves.”

For the #1 Best Workplace (medium organization category) in the Philippines, Cisco, cultivating a culture of safety means being able to pave the way to achieving an inclusive future for all—most especially in a hybrid set-up.

In the first installment of the three-part CEO Masterclass series, I had the privilege to engage in an exciting discourse with someone whose prowess in the information and technology industry is brought by 30 years of unmatched experience. In our exchange, Zaza Soriano-Nicart, Cisco’s newly-appointed Managing Director for the Philippines, was generous in sharing what are the different factors that drive the company to greatness.

Trust: A Building Block to Stronger Workforces

Without the foundation of trust, any system would inevitably collapse. Leaders are the best constituents to role model such in a culture of safety. They do this by genuinely listening and leading with empathy. There’s an emphasis on doing this with consistency because trust is never built after merely one encounter.

Doing so also signals a domino effect. When employees are listened to, they feel more valued. That impactful feeling leads to a desire and decision to stay. When members remain and realize that they are integral to the company’s success, being honorable and excellent in their craft easily follows.

All in all, these result in what Cisco defines as a “Conscious Culture.” Within the confines of this domain, we find a way of life that breeds high trust in the workplace. The employees are well aware of the environment that they are part of, practice accountability, and are empowered to actively contribute to an inclusive community.

“We believe that when people are well taken care of, when they feel heard and included, when they use their strengths and grow, companies thrive.”

Data from Cisco’s internal research is congruent with the above. It predicts that those who are never invited to share their perspectives or concerns are actually 21x more likely to quit.

In the true practice of inclusivity and showing credibility, the same research study also showed that 81% of Cisco employees agree that their team leader knows them well.

In the sense of hybrid setups, the data above translates to empowered employees who execute excellence in their work regardless of location, time zone, or approach.

Collaborative environments that practice a culture of recognition are also an archetype of trust. When you choose to collaborate with others, you recognize and have confidence in their capabilities.

Just look at how Cisco builds a culture of trust with their “In Your Shoes” program. Here, younger employees engage in a roundtable discussion with key leaders. The conversation takes an empathetic approach. Executives dig deep into how others would tackle real-life issues challenging the business should they have the privilege and position to do so.

Through the process of trading knowledge and generating powerful solutions, we also see an exchange of faith in each one’s prowess and capacities. This converts to a great practice that fosters trust within the workplace—regardless of duties, position, or trade. This also proves that everybody is part of the conversation. This is Cisco’s “Conscious Culture” in action.

The Marrying of Empathy and Transparency

Empathy is also key in this game. In hybrid setups, the line between the space for work and our homes tends to be blurred. Hence, practicing empathy is critical. By doing this, the phrase “work is work” is eradicated and is transformed to “work is human.”

Cisco also exemplifies this by prioritizing their people’s mental health. Weekly, various experts are deployed to speak with employees on matters within and outside the workplace. Constantly pushing for employees to feel secure in articulating their thoughts and pain points, various safe spaces have been deployed by the #2 World’s Best Workplace. Quarterly Engagement Pulses and the Safe to Talk community are present platforms that allow constituents to speak with no holds barred.

When it comes to transparency, the above also serve as prime examples. This is because empathy is activated when others are allowed to be fully themselves and to voice what they’re feeling.

Imagine an environment without transparency. There would be no trust, nor would understanding between people flourish. Hence, it is essential for leaders to actively place their members in the limelight—to be inquisitive, listen intently, and more importantly, arrive at smart, people-centric solutions afterward.

Fortify Your Hybrid Work Environment

In tackling the topic of hybrid work setups, Zaza also delved into the real score of such workplaces here in the country.

“We believe that hybrid work is here and it’s here to stay. While some industries in the Philippines have been given a return-to-work order, and while the government has loosened mobility restrictions, the majority of businesses in the Philippines have given their employees the flexibility to work from home. Against this backdrop, we can expect employees to work from their office at varying levels, giving rise to the need for an efficient and resilient hybrid workforce.”

Zaza has already tackled three non-negotiables to have in your arsenal when building this type of environment—trust, empathy, and transparency. However, she further shared that there is more to tackle in constructing today’s budding work-from-anywhere economy. A holistic approach is necessary when implementing this.

This entails digging deep into your systems and strengthening them. First, you must invest in collaboration tools that can help ensure inclusion and employee well-being remotely. Following that is establishing a strong cybersecurity posture that can protect the company’s data even outside the physical office. Part of the process is also improving the quality of your networking infrastructure to enable always-on connectivity regardless of location. Lastly, taking advantage of full-stack observability solutions that offer real-time visibility to IT support is also key.

The above are the specific approaches, but the overarching idea to note here is the irony at play. Albeit necessitating physical separation, hybrid work setups simply cannot be solved in isolation. To be rendered effective, it must be designed to be cross-functional. For Cisco, this means that hybrid work is powered by the convergence of people, technology, and places.

Zaza ends this portion with a powerful thought,

“It [hybrid work setups] requires an approach that designs the work experience around and for the individual wherever they are—on-site, off-site, and in mixed mode, moving between locations on any given day or time.”

An Ever-Evolving Endeavor

There are many lessons to be picked up from Cisco’s best practices. Among the many, a notable one is that there is no formula for navigating the road to an inclusive future for all. Inclusivity entails an all-encompassing experience for members of the company—one that prioritizes their psychological and physiological being, gives them opportunities to shine and thrive, and catapults them into social agents.

With norms constantly shifting and people’s needs continually evolving, strategies will also need to be regularly rehashed, observed, and evolved to fit the new standard. It will never adopt a “one size fits all” kind of scheme.

Simply put, the journey is anything but linear.

The newly appointed Managing Director for Cisco Philippines adds more depth to the sustainable actions that are entailed by going hybrid, “Getting ‘hybrid’ right means embedding flexibility and experimentation into our practices and listening to how our people want to work.”

Clarity Above All Else

Often, organizations utilize fancy adjectives like “diverse,” “impactful,” and “inclusive” without actually embedding them in their workplace culture. The danger of doing so is that they potentially result in a tainted reputation, broken expectations, and high attrition rates.

So, the question now is, how do we transform mere ideals into standards? It is by having a well-defined culture. These are not just decorative poster words to attract potential applicants. They must fall under an umbrella; an overarching theme that seamlessly pulls together all programs, practices, and policies.

This transparency of what their workplace culture is has reaped Cisco a high-trust, conscious space and well-rounded and cognizable employees that practice inclusivity even outside of work.

To dial in the numbers, here are Cisco’s Great Place to Work Trust Index™ survey results for evidence of what clarity can develop in the workplace.

97%
Say they look forward to coming to work.
98%
Say they want to work at Cisco for a long time.
98%
Say they feel they make a difference at Cisco.
97%
Say they feel good about the ways they contribute to the community.
97%
Say they would strongly endorse Cisco to friends and family as a great place to work.

Altogether, this converts to Cisco’s ecosystem of endless possibilities that are bridged by employing inclusivity that is powered by technology and built on trust.

 

Achieve a Culture of Safety in Your Hybrid Workplace Today

“Collaborative,” “effective,” and “inclusive” are all big-ticket items that can be overwhelming to attain. But by surveying your employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index survey, they become easily achievable. Why? Because you’ll be able to identify the barriers and gaps that are keeping your company from being the best workplace it can be.

Connect with us today and get powerful insights that can help transform your workplace culture.

ANTONIETTE MENDOZA-TALOSIG

Antoniette Talosig is the Managing Partner of Great Place to Work® Philippines and the Lead Consultant for Singapore. Driven by her passion to help people be the best that they can be, Toni started Great Place to Work® in the Philippines with a vision to create a high-trust workplace experience for every Filipino. She has close to two decades of partnership with some government agencies, SMEs, MNCs and some Fortune 100 companies across industries and geographies. Toni believes being a mother is the greatest adventure of her life and she enjoys seeing the world with her family.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work®, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ in IT-BPM 2024 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

This recognition helps attract and retain the best talent in the industry, ensuring that your organization continues to thrive with top-notch employees. Additionally, it strengthens the company’s brand as a desirable place to work, instilling pride and loyalty among current employees. It provides a significant competitive edge in the industry, showcasing the company’s dedication to employee satisfaction and well-being.

These organizations set themselves apart in the IT-BPM sector by cultivating an excellent workplace, contributing to their overall growth and success.

The IT-BPM sector is a cornerstone of the Philippine economy, known for its rapid growth and substantial contribution to employment and economic development. Companies in this industry play a pivotal role in driving innovation, enhancing business efficiency, and providing critical services on a global scale. Being recognized on the Philippines Best Workplaces in IT-BPM 2024 List not only highlights a company’s commitment to creating a positive workplace culture but also enhances its reputation in a highly competitive industry.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces™ in Asia by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2022 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 130,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:
1.  The criteria we evaluate

  •  85% concerned with Trust and Maximizing Human Potential and
  • 15% concerned with everything else

2.  Where the data comes from

  • 100% Trust Index for organizations with less than 100 employees
  • 75% based on the Trust Index survey analytics and 25% based on responses to the Culture Audit for organizations with more than 100 employees.
For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees