Companies rated as having among the strongest workplace environments are continuing to make investments in workplace and employee initiatives regardless of economic conditions, according to a survey by Burson-Marsteller and global research and training firm Great Place to Work. The study surveyed senior executives working at companies that were listed on the inaugural Great Place to Work World’s Best Multinational Workplaces ranking.

The research provides insights into the perceived return-on-investment companies generate from making investments in their employees such as: programs designed to educate employees about the brand’s mission and values; programs that promote career development; and programs designed to encourage work life balance such as maternity and paternity leave and flextime.

The study found that despite challenging economic conditions respondents confirmed that developing and maintaining a good workplace environment positively impacts the company’s performance. Survey respondents report that their spending on workplace programs has either increased (30 percent) or remained the same (70 percent), and 95 percent of respondents indicated that gaining external and internal recognition for workplace initiatives positively impacts the company’s performance.

“We know from previous Great Place to Work research that there is a direct relationship between those companies who are listed on all our Best Companies lists and strong financial performance,” says Jose Tolovi, global CEO of Great Place to Work. “The world’s leading workplaces continue to build this investment into their business planning even during challenging business climates.”

Strong company culture was named the most important benefit of a strong workplace by 80 percent of respondents, outranking business benefits such as market valuation, innovation and competitiveness. Recruitment and retention was named the second most important benefit by 70 percent of respondents.

“While it may seem counterintuitive to make significant investments in a weak economy, these companies have reaped the substantial business benefits of having a great workplace,” says Deidre Campbell, managing director, Burson-Marsteller. “The findings indicate that the leading workplaces in the world go above and beyond the standard suite of employee benefit programs to be competitive workplaces on talent acquisition and retention.”