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Trends from The 2013 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®

Leslie Caccamese

Focus: The Global Workplace

In 2013, Fourteen of  the 100 Best Companies to Work For® saw more than 50% of their employee population residing outside of the US, and twenty seven have more than 25% of their employee population outside of the US. 

Incidentally, these numbers have not changed much over the years.  In 2004, 14 of the 100 Best, mostly in the pharmaceutical or manufacturing sectors, also had more than 50% of their employees located outside of the US.  While the demographic has not changed, the approach certainly has.

Global work has changed significantly since the days of outsourcing.  Today, cross-cultural and cross-functional teams are collaborating across time zones, language barriers and cultural differences to achieve a singular goal. Recruiting and developing talent, along with the definition of diversity, has expanded to encompass building the best teams from the best employees available around the world.  While cultural questions will undoubtedly be a part of the conversation, in 2013 the Best Companies will focus on what they can do, tactically, to connect the global workforce under one corporate identity.


Cross-Cultural Collaboration:  Facilitating cross-cultural collaboration has necessitated a shift in attitude and created the demand for a whole new set of tools and practices in order to make this sort of work possible.  Several of the Best companies adjusted how they work in order to excel in this dramatically altered work environment.  Cisco relies heavily on their own products to achieve global collaboration, employing Cisco’s TelePresence and other remote work tools like WebEx, to engage the global workforce in meetings without the expense or inconvenience of travel.  Many of Cisco’s people practices now occur “virtually,” thus allowing them to occur globally.  As in other areas, remote work and flexibility have been key to the success of these initiatives.  The Remote Worker Program at AutoDesk takes a different approach to cross-cultural collaboration by hosting job swaps, where employees from the same team will swap homes, vehicles, and jobs for a set period of time.  These short term assignments creatively invite experiences that build team and facilitate employee development without long-term overseas assignments.  Similarly, when global teams reach a milestone, they celebrate with “wave” parties—a celebration that begins in one office and waves around the world to end in another.  American Express’s Global Rotation Program provides high-potential leaders with six month overseas assignments working with a local team on a strategic initiative. When FactSet hosted their first Hackathon, it was a global affair.  Teams from around the world simultaneously spent 24 hours designing an innovation, functional improvement, or tool that would enhance the business, and entries were evaluated by a single panel of judges.  2013 will see more of these activities as employers strive for cultural consistency, seek to leverage “the best” talent for the highest purpose, and take advantage of the creativity that diversity can bring to innovation on a more global level. 

Technology for Mobility:  Technology continues to drive changes in how people work and communicate, and efforts to adjust to current and ever-changing realities persist.  Moreover, as the global workforce expands, the urgency behind making technology work for the way people work is amplified.  While mobile technology is not new, many are still struggling to understand what it means to their business, and a focus on tactics rather than strategy has yielded inconsistent results with new technologies.  Those that are successful have outlined clear strategic objectives, and have realistic expectations of what these solutions will help them achieve.  PricewaterhouseCoopers provides all employees with a mobile device, and last year asked employees what sort of apps might help them thrive in the company’s “on the go” work environment.  These efforts resulted in nine different mobile apps that deliver services such as important PwC news to employees’ mobile devices, time tracking programs, apps to schedule and update travel reservations, and more. DPR Construction created a similar app that allowed foremen to enter their crew’s time and productivity from an iPad while on the jobsite. For Edward Jones, for whom surveys represent an important component of their feedback loop, survey kiosks have become an important tool.  They are also considering apps that will allow for real time feedback from employees from their cell phones and iPads at conferences and other events.

Conclusion: A Trend among the 2013 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® is to research how and where technology can be leveraged to enhance communication practices, build operational efficiencies, and meet employees where they are.  Those that succeed will rely on employee input to develop solutions, and will focus on specific business objectives that can be best served by mobile technology.

If your organization is interested in learning more best practices from Best Company PricewaterhouseCoopers, please join us at the 2013 Great Place to Work® Conference, where Ann Donovan, U.S. Human Capital Transformation Leader at PwC will be presenting on Managing Millenials on Wednesday, April 17th.


Managing Millenials

Ann Donovan
, U.S. Human Capital Transformation Leader
In September of 2011, PwC began to look at the next generation of individuals entering the workforce, with the goal of understanding the unique differences that characterize this group of "Millennials," those who were born between 1980 and 1995 and are currently under 33 years of age. In 2012, PwC partnered with researchers from the University of Southern California and the London Business School to release “NextGen: A Global Generational Study” to PwC leadership around the world. In total, PwC received more than 40,000 responses from Millennials and non-Millennials alike and more than 300 participated in individual interviews and focus groups. In this session, PwC will share the findings that emerged from this study, how this data will be used to inform PwC’s global people strategy and what other organizations may learn from PwC's research into generational differences in the workplace.

To learn more about the Global Generational Study conducted at PwC, join us at the
Great Place to Work® Conference, April 17-18th, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Leslie Caccamese serves as Senior Strategic Marketing Manager with Great Place to Work® Institute.

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