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No such thing as 'the best company to work for'

Last updated on: October 08, 2012 13:40 IST

Abhijit Bhaduri, the Chief Learning Officer at Wipro, looks at annual lists of 'best companies to work for' with some amount of skepticism. Here's why:

When companies look to hire someone they ask for resumes, interview candidates, do a reference check and then offer the job to them. How did you go about choosing your employer? Did you hire 'the best' employer? How can you find out whether your employer is the right one for you?

As an HR person I have had the chance to meet thousands of employees and had the opportunity to work for many different sectors and firms. The biggest lesson I have learnt is that there is no such thing as 'the best employer'.

I am always amused when I see lists of the usual suspects when a magazine publishes the list of 'Best Companies'. We are all unique individuals. Your friend or classmates may all be extremely happy working for a certain organisation while you may feel miserable. Or you may discover that you are the only person from your batch of friends who has stayed with the organisation while everyone else has quit.

All of us have different personalities and the things that matter to you may not matter to someone else. Money is important. Remember that payday is only once a month. If you are unhappy for the other twenty-nine days, it will be hard for you to succeed. Being happy about what you do is what makes a person successful. Happy people enjoy working hard and will put in the extra effort needed to differentiate them from other colleagues.

The organisation's culture is one of the most important determinants of happiness at work. The organisation's culture is also a complex thing to decode. Culture determines how the people around, will view every action of yours. It can be seen from simple every day behaviors of the people around.

A friend of mine works for a design boutique. She described the culture as, "There are no rules. The office timings are from 8.30am to 6pm. But our meetings are never scheduled before 11am.

They will never start on time and once they start there is no saying when it will finish. This is a daily routine. Most of my colleagues troop in by 10 or even 10.30 in the morning. I am an early bird. I like to get back home so that I can spend time with my kids. The unspoken norm is that we will all work till 9pm and then go out with colleagues to socialise. They may not have families but I do. I can't work here."

As you are reading the description, you may be saying to yourself, "Wow! That sounds like a fun place. Can I get a job there?" Some of you may be muttering to yourself, "I would hate to work for such a place." Lack of adherence to rules could be described as flexibility by some and chaotic by others.

If you worked in a place where all the colleagues around you are always busy minding their own business and have their earphones plugged in and working in pin drop silence. That maybe described like a perfect place to work for some and may feel like 'working in a cemetery' as a friend of mine once said.

The norms around celebration, communication, meetings etc are important cultural norms that may impact your ability to perform the job well. If you have a disagreement with a colleague is it acceptable to state it or does the opinion of the boss prevail?

Does seniority and tenure matter in the organisation? More importantly, does it matter to you? If it does not, then you would be unhappy working for an employer whose culture is to promote people based on their years of experience and tenure in the organisation. If merit and not tenure is your belief about how people should be promoted, then you should look for that fit in the organisation where you choose to work.

Some organisations send out a circular to announce the list of people who have been promoted. In some organisations, it is never announced. Which one of these matters to you? I could go on and on.

There is no such thing as the 'best company' to work for. If the fit between you and the culture of the organisation is just right, then that is the best place for you to work for. Go for it.

The author works as the Chief Learning Officer of Wipro. His latest book Don't hire the best is all about finding the right fit. The views are personal.

Image: Google often appears in lists of best companies to work for but is it the best fit for you?

Abhijit Bhaduri