Atlassian plummets seven places on list of best places to work in Australia as Salesforce retains the crown

Atlasssian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. Supplied
  • The 50 Best Places to Work 2019 guide has been released, with Salesforce retaining its prime position in the ‘over 1,000 employees’ category.
  • Atlassian has dropped from 2nd place in 2018 to 9th in 2019, overtaken by Cisco, Hilton, Mecca Brands, Mars, REA Group, SAP Australia and even government agency Service NSW.
  • Stryker has pipped Canva to the top spot in the ‘100 to 999 employees’ category, re-claiming the first ranking it won in 2017.

Salesforce has retained its spot at the top of the ranking of best companies to work for in Australia, while Atlassian has seen its fortunes dramatically dwindle on the list.

Consultancy Great Place to Work has unveiled its verdict on the 50 Best Places to Work in Australia, off the back of extensive employee surveys and its own “cultural audit” of participating companies.

Best places to work with more than 1,000 employees

1. Salesforce
2. Cisco Systems Australia
3. Hilton
4. Mecca Brands
5. Mars Australia
6. REA Group
7. SAP Australia
8. Service NSW
9. Atlassian
10. Campbell Arnott’s

The 2019 ranking indicates a drop of seven places for Australian-born unicorn Atlassian, down from 2nd in 2018 to 9th in 2019. It is a major fall of grace for the software company, which previously took out the top position in 2014 and 2015.

Great Place to Work managing director Zrinka Lovrencic told Business Insider Australia Atlassian’s downward trajectory says more about its rising competitors than it does about the company itself. But she also hinted at internal issues at the much-hyped Nasdaq-listed tech giant.

“Other companies have upped their game, it is becoming more competitive,” Lovrencic said. “But Atlassian has been through a lot of changes and that is reflected in the score.”

Atlassian’s chief people officer Helen Russell told Business Insider Australia the company was still stoked to make the list despite the diminished position.

“It’s awesome to be named one of the best places to work each year and we’re humbled to be in such great company,” Russel said. “It’s exciting to see so many Australian businesses setting high standards in what it means to be a great employer. Our people are our most valuable asset and we know that we’re only ever as good as the people we have inside our buildings.”

Nonetheless, Atlassian may have been anticipating a better ranking this year.

The company’s global head of talent Bek Chee told Business Insider Australia in July that it was changing its process for performance reviews to reward employees who show “heart” and not just technical skills.

And rewarding employees who demonstrate company values forms a large part of why Salesforce has retained its spot at the top of the list in 2019, Lovrencic said.

“At the end of the day, they’re just a CRM [customer relationship management] provider, but they really engage their employees in what they stand for,” she said.

Salesforce’s approach to inclusion and employee wellness is not “random” but the well thought out product of a “machine” of people and culture specialists, she said.

Ulrik Nehammer, executive vice president and general manager of Salesforce in the Asia-Pacific issued a statement pointing to the company’s monthly $150 health and fitness voucher for employees and partnership with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

“Listening to our employees and earning their trust is one of the highest achievements we can attain as a business, and I think this award is an incredible reflection of that,” he said.

Perhaps the most surprising organisation to beat Atlassian this year is government agency Service NSW. Lovrencic said the score maintained by the mega-department was “remarkable” and showed people they can have a “great career in the public service”.

Best places to work with between 100 and 999 employees

1. Stryker
2. Canva
3. Intuit Australia
4. OMD Australia
5. AbbVie
6. Adobe
7. Envato
8. Optiver
9. Nous Group
10. Richard Crookes Constructions

The 2019 ranking also showed tight competition among medium-sized companies, with medical technology company Stryker re-claiming top spot from Canva.

The report found that Stryker employees enjoyed a “sense of family” and benefitted from specific development programs aimed at emerging leaders, especially women.

Asked to comment on the ongoing tit-for-tat between the first and second place holders, Lovrencic said there wasn’t much in it.

In fact, she said that the top 10 in all categories generally can be split by a hair. The divide in scores is not so much between the companies who make up the top 10, but between the top 10 and everyone else, including the 40 who made the list, she said. You can view the full list here.

What makes the top 10 stand out is their focus on investing in people and culture initiatives in all economic climates, Lovrencic said.

“These companies realise that a downturn is exactly when you need to invest in people,” she said. “No-one remembers when you only invest in the good times.”

UPDATED 2:41pm 28/8/29: This article has been updated to include comments from Atlassian’s Helen Russell.