Reports – IT/ITES 2021

Best Small and Medium IT/ITES Workplaces in Sri Lanka


Great Place to Work in Sri Lanka has compiled its second consecutive list of the Best Small and Medium IT/ITES Workplaces. 

The list comprises organisations that have been Great Place to Work – Certified and showcases areas in which these organisations perform better than the others assessed in the same sector.

The Great Place to Work For All model was used to select the 10 Best Workplaces accounting for employee perception through the Trust Index survey, and organisational people practices through the Culture Audit completed by the organisation and independently assessed. 

Eligibility criteria were as below:

  • Organizations operating in the IT or ITES industry and verticals
  • Organizations in the Small and Medium category in terms of employee numbers (More than 20 to less than 600 full time and part time staff)
  • Conducted surveys that achieved responses at a 95% confidence interval (5% error margin)
  • Organizations meeting the minimum criteria of being Great Place to Work-Certified™ with the Trust Index© Grand Mean of minimum 70% and Culture Audit score of 40%.

When analysing the data, in addition to the overall results, employee perception pertaining to the areas of Hiring and Fit, Collaboration, Work Life Balance and Growth and Development were prioritised as those particularly relevant to the sector.

Twenty-three organisations registered for the study and were assessed in from May 2020 to April 2021. Organisation size ranged from 20 to 565 employees. Over 3,000 employees were assessed in this study. Figure 1 shows the resulting Trust Index (TI) and Overriding Perception (OP) for the Best 10 Organisations of this year, compared to last year and the rest of the organisations in the IT/ITES Sector.  The TI is a measure of the average positive perception of employees across 59 statements, while the OP is the direct measure of the positive response to the statement, “Taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work.”

Most notable is the steep eight percentage point jump from a TI of 81 in 2020 to 89 in 2021.  Additionally, the difference between the TI and OP – which demonstrates employees’ tendency to absolve shortfalls in specific areas in favour of the overall workplace experience – has narrowed to a barely perceptible percentage point.

This same trend in the rest of the organisations that were surveyed suggests that the overall working conditions in the sector in the past year have had an impact on employees’ perception towards their workplace. The clear increase in the TI suggests that employee positive perception of the working environment has improved over the last year, perhaps in response to the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic.

Figure 2 shows the key dimensions measured by the employee perception survey, where the Best 10 perform, on average 12% higher than the rest in the IT/ITES sector. This is a considerable difference and highlights the range in employee experience across the sector.  Pride is the area that has the highest positive perception and Fairness the lowest, which follows the historical trend.

Drilling further into sub-dimensions, it is of note that Impartiality showed the lowest positive perception (84% amongst the best and 71% amongst the rest), while Pride in Corporate Image and Community-level Camaraderie showed the highest positive perception (92% and 94% respectively amongst the best 10 and 81% amongst the rest).  However, the area that had the highest difference between the best and the rest was that of Collaboration (95% for the best and 80% for the rest), highlighting this as an area that raises the bar for employee experience in the IT/ITES sector.

Deep dive into the Results of the Best 10 Workplaces

In all organisations, there are some key areas linked more closely to employees perceiving their workplace as a great one.   Within the Best 10, we note that these key drivers are centred on the dimensions of Pride, Care for Employees, Camaraderie, Performance Management and Employee Empowerment.  Presented in more detail in Figure 3, employee opinion of these key drivers more significantly influences the overall result of the organisation.

Additionally, Figure 4 shows the areas where Best Workplaces perform exceptionally well as areas of strength and those areas where there is room for improvement.  Remarkably, the sub-themes within the area of Management Reliability are split amongst the two, with employees feeling secure in their jobs and believing highly of the ethics of their management, yet feeling that managers can do better when ‘walking the talk’.

Furthermore, we analysed some fields we believe are of critical importance to the high performance of an organisation, particularly ones in the IT sector as a continually and rapidly evolving industry: Leadership Effectiveness and Innovation for All. Figures 5 and 6 highlight the differences between the perception amongst employees of the best 10 and the rest.

9% more employees in the Best Workplaces showed sufficient confidence in their management and only  6% lacked faith in their management.  This percentage of those lacking a high level of trust  in management almost triples to 15% in the rest of the organisations surveyed.    

When  it comes to the opportunities for innovation/continuous improvement offered,  90% of employees in the best felt they had sufficient opportunities, while only 83% in the rest agreed, with twice as many employees  believing that they were not presented any opportunities.


Gendered Perceptions

Compared to other traditionally gender-biased industries, the IT industry is one where gender equality and balance can be achieved relatively easily due to its more recent arrival in to the arena aiding in the avoidance of gendered norms and the global push to support women in the STEM sectors (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  However, the average percentage of female employees in the organisations surveyed is only at 30%, with a range from 5% to 65%.  

Nevertheless, women in the Best Workplaces had a 2% higher perception of their workplace at 90% positivity, with men’s positive perception at 88%, while in the rest, gender parity was achieved at a lower 78% positivity.  Comparing the responses to individual statements, an amazing 80% of the 63 statements received a more positive response from women in the Best 10, while this number was only 46% in the rest.  Although gender parity was reached in a similar 15% in both groups, men in the Best 10 were more positive than women in only 3 statements, and just one of notable value as shown in Figure 7.

Key differentiators of the Best vs. the Rest 

The Best 10 Workplaces in IT/ITES outperform the rest by an average of 12 percentage points, with Figure 8 presenting those specific statements where the gap was largest.  Higher perception in areas related to Pride, Camaraderie and Communication ties in with the fact that these areas appear as key drivers and were considered as key areas in deciding the Best Workplaces. 

Best Practices

Finally, considering those areas which were considered more highly due to their relevance in the sector, we share below some best practices by the recognised organisations, with particular relevance to the current pandemic situation. 

Collaboration: Ascentic – An internal employee collaboration and feedback gathering tool is used to measure and trigger employee engagement, gathering completely anonymous feedback and suggestions from employees. This real-time feedback measuring tool helps understand and listen to the pulse of Ascenders with a weekly fluctuating all-employee question to understand work environment and mentality, and prompt and meaningful follow-up action.

Growth and Development: Calcey Technologies’ Techtalks – An ongoing training and development initiative where employees share their expertise and trends in technology, how they affect the way they do business, and the problems they solve. The weekly ‘techtalks’ named ‘Tech Thursday’ assigns employees the responsibility of the ‘techtalk’ and other employees engage in a discussion forum.

Hiring and Fit: ism apac – A welcome gift will be sent to the newcomers’ residence two weeks prior to the joining date which mainly includes a welcome cake with a welcome card along with the Newly Designed Onboarding Guide – called the ‘Welcome Booklet’ – which is inclusive of a brief intro about all teammates, including the board of directors, mentor and buddy. Additionally, the NEO Program is their official orientation program designed to introduce new hires to the culture of the company.

Work-Life Balance: 99x Technology Quarantine and Chill series – The Xians’ Wellbeing Innovative Group launched this series of challenges to be done from home with the aim of increasing engagement among Xians and improving quality family time during the lockdown period. A total of six challenges were carried out through the year, with the winners receiving gifts that could be shared with their families.     

Great Place to Work encourages organisations to share their own best practices and join us in making Sri Lanka a great workplace for all.  Contact us to take the first step in your journey of being certified as a great workplace.

Great Place to Work is a global authority on building, sustaining and recognising high-trust, high-performing workplace cultures. Over the past 30 years, Great Place to Work has helped organisations of different sizes produce better business results by focusing on the employee experience at work. Research shows there’s a clear and direct relationship between employee engagement and financial performance. Every year, more than 7,000 organisations from over 70 countries, across more than 20 industries partner with Great Place to Work for assessment, benchmarking and planning actions to strengthen their workplace cultures. The Best Workplaces studies in Sri Lanka is based on the global model and a rigorous methodology, which has been researched, tested and carried out in similar studies worldwide – including in the Americas, Europe and Australia.