Giving Back List Best Workplaces Millennials

For many Millennials, a fulfilling career means more than 40 hours on the clock. Beyond compensation and job titles, people in the country’s largest generation value a sense of meaning in their work more than their older colleagues.

Our Great Place to Work team recently uncovered this trend while selecting the Best Workplaces for Giving Back. Our analysis of more than 350,000 surveys from Great Place to Work–Certified™ organizations revealed a strong connection between organizational giving and employee experience.

People who felt their employers made a positive impact on the world were:

4 times more likely to say their teams give extra to get the job done
11 times more likely to say they plan to stay with their organizations for the long haul
14 times more likely to say they look forward to coming to work.

“At the heart of the company is its understanding that a great work environment encourages, not just the work we do, but the full human experience,” says a Millennial at Cornerstone OnDemand, one of the Best Workplaces for Giving Back. “The Cornerstone Foundation, building skateboards with underprivileged youth as a part of new-hire orientation, child mentorship programs like Spark, encouraging Cornerstars to vote in the upcoming election and having marathons, triathlons and walks throughout the year for various charities are a constant reminder that we as an organization are more than simply the sum of our parts.”

Committing to giving-centered programs like these has a huge impact on employee experience across all generations. But we found this effect to be particularly strong among younger employees.

Among Millennials, survey responses related to community involvement had a stronger relationship with expressed loyalty and whether people see their work as more than “just a job.” At the same time, Millennials seem to have higher “giving back” expectations than their Gen-X and Baby Boomer colleagues. Overall, younger employees scored their organizations less favorably on community contributions and their sense of making an impact.

For hiring managers, this is a big opportunity. Enhancing involvement in worthy causes – especially with programs that directly engage employees – offers a chance to better recruit and retain Millennial talent.

How to Give Back the Right Way


Our Best Workplaces for Giving Back offer a range of innovative and creative examples of how to make giving back a priority.

  • Veterans United Home Loans puts giving front-and-center from day one. All new hires receive a $10 gift certificate with instructions to “pay it forward” with a good deed. Their orientation then includes a chance to share how they brightened someone else’s day, setting an expectation that giving back will be integral to their work.

  • VMware’s Good Gigs program marries employees’ personal passions with the company’s philanthropy. Cross-functional teams spend three months honing their leadership skills during international projects that have included educational programs at orphanages in Vietnam and schools in South Africa.

  • Novo Nordisk’s Take Action Challenge gives co-workers the chance to pitch community projects for $10,000 grants. Participants work directly with nonprofits to bring these ideas to life, giving employees a real stake in their organization’s giving. Examples to date include a school garden, a public wellness fair and mentoring programs for underprivileged youth.

Initiatives like these can bring an immediate boost to staff camaraderie. But they also build a deeper sense of connection with the organization across the workforce.


“We could easily lose a sense of fun at work and not care about giving back to the community,” says another Millennial at Veterans United Home Loans. “I am so proud to say I work at Veterans United, where more than 90 percent of employees donate 1 percent of their salaries to fund our foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to local and national causes. That's something that makes VU a great place to work.”

2017 Workplaces that Care Video Contest

Our company culture video contest is back in action! After last year’s incredible number of creative, heartfelt, and downright hilarious video contest submissions (check them out on YouTube!), we’ve decided to bring it back, with a new theme. We are excited to announce our 2017 Workplaces that Care Video Contest!

This year, we’ll be handing a $1,000 check to the organization with the video submission that earns the most votes on Facebook. That’s right – $1,000 to go directly into your culture fund. It could even be the start to your own Get-a-Life-Fund to support employees’ interests outside of work, or a “Bridge Fund” to help employees get through personal emergencies.

Think your company is a great candidate? Read on for the contest details.

The Guidelines

Video Content: Anything that shows off your caring workplace culture
Video Length: No more than 1 minute. Short and sweet!
Submission Deadline: Submit your 1-minute video by Feb 28th
Voting on Facebook: March 1 -31st, 2017
Winners Announced: April 2017

What We're Looking For

At Great Place to Work, we're all about building strong workplace cultures that foster trust, camaraderie, and pride. In this year's contest, we're looking for workplaces that truly care for their employees, and go above and beyond to transform company into family. Spotlight a cool tradition or event you do – it could be a volunteer program, a personal story from an employee, or anything else you feel highlights your workplace's caring spirit.

How It Works

1. Get your co-workers together and create your video!

2. Submit your video on our Facebook page

3. Share the video contest Facebook page with your community and encourage voting

4. Celebrate! Whether or not your company wins, take the time to share the video internally and celebrate your awesome culture together.

How to Win

The company whose video has the most votes on Facebook by 5:00 PM PST March 31st will be named the winner. The Great Place to Work team will also select 3 honorable mention winners, to be awarded a team pizza party!

And beyond the winners, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite videos on our social media channels after the contest ends.

We can’t wait to see your submissions! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Company-values-culture-change-sharlyn-lauby

A common theme during the 2016 Great Place to Work Small and Medium Business Conference was managing growth. Not just growth in terms of products, services, and customers. But growth in terms of employees and morale.

The key to successful growth is organizational values. Great places to work are built on values and how they are defined. They come to life when they are being lived and breathed in the organization. Organizations must figure out how to grow and, at the same time, maintain their values.

4 Business Activities that Impact Business Growth

The answer to this question would be easy if organizations were stable and never changed. But they’re changing all the time. Michael C. Bush, Chief Executive Officer at Great Place to Work, says there are four actions that have a major impact on company culture. You’ll notice that they do have a direct or indirect relationship with business growth:

  • CEO leaving or transitioning
  • Organizational merger and acquisition
  • Rapid growth within the company
  • Employee layoffs

Michael added that organizations need to be concerned when faced with major change. “Our research shows that cultures are vulnerable during periods of tremendous change. It can weaken organizational culture - first around fairness, then credibility, and finally respect.” And we all know that once respect is lost, it’s very difficult to recover.

Before being faced with challenges, organizations should ask themselves, “What kind of culture do we have?” and “As we grow, what kind of culture are we moving toward?” There needs to be a clear line of sight between the two. 

It totally makes sense that company culture will evolve as the organization grows. That doesn’t mean organizations can’t continue to have terrific relationships with their employees. It is possible to discuss fiscal responsibility and innovative opportunities while the business expands. The key is building a culture based on trust and transparency.

Organizations that want to excel in today’s competitive business environment must build cultures based on their values. They need to live those values and protect them as the business grows. That doesn’t mean that telling employees about the challenges associated with growing the organization is bad. It’s truth. Employees respect the truth. Letting employees know that the company’s values will not be compromised as the business expands is the ultimate demonstration of transparency.

When the spouse of an employee at San Antonio-headquartered NuStar Energy died in an accident, support from the company didn’t end with flowers, food deliveries and flexible work hours in the weeks that followed. The company’s leaders and employees soon raised nearly $30,000 in scholarship funds for their co-worker’s kids.

This type of family support among colleagues cropped up again and again throughout our research for Great Place to Work's recent list of the Best Workplaces in Texas. The leading employers seemed to take the recipe for a fulfilling, respectful workplace and add a dash of Texan hospitality. 

The proof goes beyond employee anecdotes: 96 percent of people surveyed at winning companies  described their organizations as friendly and welcoming, and a similar share say they’re proud to tell others where they work. 

Creating a family feel can’t be achieved by corporate mandate--which is why the ways these best companies have achieved such a friendly work environment are so compelling. Here are three inspiring practices drawn from the 2017 Best Workplaces in Texas that illustrate how to bring a family feel to life at work:

1. Getting Creative with Recognizing Employees' Hard Work

NuStar has earned a reputation for rewarding colleagues’ hard work on a regular basis. Its standard benefits include premium-free health insurance for employees and their families, along with a generous 6 percent company match for retirement contributions. Service anniversaries are marked by jewelry, golf clubs or iPods sent with letters signed by the company’s president. 

Throughout the year, NuStar hosts fun events to encourage co-workers to hang out and celebrate their contributions to the organization’s success. Says one employee, “NuStar is also a fun place to work! We celebrate all types of occasions, from Frosty Fridays (ice cream and popsicles handed out), to all-employee bonus parties and Thirsty Thursday happy hours in the summer months. The best part is the culture of taking care of employees, and in turn we take care of the company and our community."

2. Building Team Spirit, Regardless of Position Title

Perks like these don’t exist for their own sake. They make an organization stronger by building a sense of camaraderie among employees.  At the Best Workplaces, nearly nine in ten people say they can count on their peers to cooperate, and the same share say they want to work for their employers for a long time.

“Everyone higher up does an amazing job making every single person here, down to the janitors, feel like we are one big team,” notes a co-worker at Veterans United Home Loans. “The company also invests so much back into its employees by not only giving us amazing incentives, pay, time off, etc., but also with regular lunches provided by the company, monthly massages for every employee, events that let us include family so they can see what we're all about, as well, and so many other things.”

Additional examples at this financial firm with a branch in Irving, Texas, include kid-friendly campouts, movie nights and photos with Santa at the annual holiday party. Veterans United also encourages employees to form groups around their shared interests or experiences, with get-togethers for recent college grads, movie buffs, women over 40 and people dealing with cancer. These events show an organization understands the impact of work on employees' home lives. 

3. Colleagues Helping Colleagues

One of the most personal ways the Best Workplaces show they care is through donations to employees in need. 

The Container Store maintains its Employee First Fund specifically to help in family emergencies. The company kicked in the first $100,000, with co-worker donations bringing that total to $340,000. Grants from the fund have given employees emergency cash for rent, utilities, shelter, food and medical expenses during catastrophes. These employee-owned good deeds can give teams an even better sense of purpose than traditional charity drives. They also speak to the way a tight-knit workforce can inspire loyalty and teamwork. 

“In the world today, it seems like it's an ‘every-man-for-himself’ mentality. But at The Container Store, I can truly count on my co-workers and my manager to have my back,” says an employee at the Texas-headquartered retailer. “They all want to succeed together, and we're always looking for ways to help each other. It's so refreshing! I love coming to work because I don't feel like I have to fight to get ahead – I feel like I'm being propelled forward by my colleagues. And that makes me actually want to work harder because I don't want to let them down!” 

 

Imagine a ring of chairs surrounding a new product. Discussing it are engineers and executives assessing the prototype’s features and market potential, but they’re only seated on one half of the circle. They scrutinize the product extensively from the front but ignore any potential flaws or opportunities for improvement in the parts of the design they can’t see.

Obvious as such an oversight would be, this is effectively what happens when tech companies fail to bring diverse employee perspectives into their decision making. Great Place to Work® recently ranked the country’s Best Workplaces in Technology. And while these standout organizations boast a number of traits that encourage new ideas, we felt it especially important to highlight relationships we discovered between inclusive organizations and innovation.

Across the companies we surveyed--which are all Great Place to Work-Certified--organizations where fewer employees report fair treatment in regard to race or gender tend to score lower on measures of innovation. That result refers to employees of all backgrounds. In addition, we looked specifically at surveys of historically underrepresented groups. And we found that women and employees of color who said they were treated fairly regardless of gender or race were five times more likely to report workplace characteristics linked to innovation. The employees surveyed in these groups also revealed that fair treatment has a significant impact on their levels of:

  • Inspiration
  • Willingness to give extra when needed, and
  • Whether they look forward to coming to work.

The most effective employers make a conscious effort to ensure team members of all backgrounds feel connected to the organization and comfortable being themselves at work.

“I feel diversity is just a part of work life, not a goal or a check-box, even though management talks inclusion frequently. I am an older female employee, a second-career engineer, and feel valued for my work experience beyond my engineering and leadership skills,” said one employee at Cisco, one of the Best Workplaces in Technology.

How does that kind of environment happen? There’s no easy answer, but the Best Workplaces offer some thoughtful places to start:

  • Adobe increased the diversity of its interview panels by hosting a San Francisco hackathon explicitly to recruit diverse candidates. They also worked actively to mitigate bias in job descriptions and the hiring process.
  • Senior VMware leaders formed an inclusion council that set a goal of including at least one woman on every interview panel. They also established an executive job-shadowing program and similar initiatives originating from leadership outside HR.
  • Salesforce partners with organizations that work to increase career readiness and interest in the tech industry among girls and at-risk youth. Managers mentor these young people and build the company’s talent pipeline while also benefitting from fresh perspectives on the future of technology.

Even with the right programs in place, it takes effort, investment and patience to create a Great Place to Work for All (or #GPTW4ALL, as we like to say on Twitter). It’s well worth it, though, when leaders realize the potential for bigger, better ideas by including many different perspectives at the table. Great Place to Work for All (or , as we like to say on Twitter). It’s well worth it, though, when leaders realize the potential for bigger, better ideas by including many different perspectives at the table.

As an employee at one of the Best Workplaces put it, “The people make Expedia great! We have a diverse team where we value 'being and thinking different.' This gives us an edge in solving problems, as we do not fall into the traps of group think and 'it's always been done this way'.”

 

A sense of belonging—even love—drives higher revenue, according to new Great Place to Work study

Soft is hard-edged when it comes to business growth.

That’s a key takeaway from new research from Great Place to Work, conducted while creating the 2016 Best Small and Medium Workplaces list. This research showed that one of the strongest drivers of better-than-average revenue growth among smaller businesses is a caring community at work.

Caring ranked as more pivotal for growth than the usual suspects such as a clear business strategy, innovation activities, and competent leadership. So the caring-as-competitive-edge finding is striking. But it is not entirely surprising to the two of us co-authors, given a growing collection of data about the importance of psychological security, community, and a sense of belonging. 

Indeed, the signs point to a future where the firms best poised to lay waste to rivals are the ones that best cultivate brotherly and sisterly love within their walls.

A Caring Community is a Killer Competitor

Great Place to Work conducted this research by looking at several hundred small and medium-sized companies, and examining more than 52,000 employee surveys.

The study sought the strongest drivers of revenue outperformance by looking at the relative impact of the 58 questions from Great Place to Work’s Trust Index© Employee Survey.

At the very top was “Management hires people who fit in well here,” followed closely by “People care about each other here.”

When employees in a high-trust culture experience a caring workplace, they are 44% more likely to work for a company with above-average revenue growth. It’s notable that hiring-for-fit is a slightly stronger driver of better revenue. That’s a signal that newcomers—especially jerks—can upset a close-knit, high-performing team. Other top-10 drivers paint a picture of a caring, collegial environment. They include “There is a ‘family’ or ‘team’ feeling here” and “You can count on people to cooperate.”

One caveat about the study is that all the companies studied are Great Place to Work-Certified. That means 7 of 10 of each companies’ employees gave them positive scores on the Trust Index Survey, indicating that staffers at these firms have a solid level of trust in management, camaraderie among themselves, and pride on the job.

It may be that companies with low or broken trust with management would not see that a more caring environment would spur stronger sales growth.

But the connection Great Place to Work found between a caring community and competitive success dovetails with other research.

Google, in its pursuit to understand what fuels high performance in teams, recently learned that psychological safety is the primary influence. Psychological safety helps team members feel comfortable sharing opposing ideas or presenting new ones. Central to psychological safety is the willingness to be vulnerable in front of others.

Or consider earlier studies by Roy Baumeister of Florida State University on links between the need to belong—a close cousin of caring—and behaviors important to team effectiveness. Baumeister found that people rejected by others show counter-productive behaviors such as aggressiveness, reluctance to help, lack of empathy, self-defeating behavior and even “temporary reductions in intelligent thought.”

Co-author Shawn Murphy highlighted the role caring and belonging in his book, The Optimistic Workplace. In interviews conducted by Murphy for his book, employees in high-caring work environments experienced higher levels of pride towards the company and their work product. What’s more, caring and a sense of belonging can contribute to greater fulfillment in life.

In one case, a mechanic from Luck Companies expressed how his life changed because of the positive work environment at the provider of building materials including crushed stone. Kelly, the mechanic, said he felt “needed” at Luck Companies. “I know that what I do actually does make a difference and does matter,” he said. “When I see that I aspire to do better, do more.” The environment at Luck is shaped by the care the company demonstrates in living up to its motto of “igniting human potential.”

In another company, BambooHR, the expression of care comes through in the start-up’s “anti-workaholic policy.” While it sounds cheeky, the intention behind the policy is rooted in concern for employees. BambooHR wants employees to have a life outside the organization. Employees who consistently work more than 40 hours a week take time away from family and friends. The policy helps employees find a healthier way to integrate their personal and professional lives.

Caring and belonging are “soft,” intangibles. Yet their impact on a business is very tangible. Businesses willing to look beyond the traditional, supposedly “hard” levers of revenue growth are likely to outperform those stuck using yesterday’s business knowledge.

Today it’s never been clearer: caring is a competitive weapon.

Author Bios:

Ed Frauenheim is Director of Research and Content at Great Place to Work®. Ed provides insights into how Great Places to Work For All are better for business, better for people, and better for the world. He has spoken at more than 20 events, co-written two books and published articles in Fortune, Wired and the Seattle Times.

Shawn Murphy is author of The Optimistic Workplace and CEO of consulting firm Switch and Shift.

 

Learn how your company can become Great Place to Work-Certified and eligible for our Best Workplaces lists.

 

Many organizations talk about the need to innovate. But what does that mean exactly? How can organizations create an innovative culture?

During this year’s Great Place to Work Conference for small and medium workplaces, Ruth Yomtoubian, director at AT&T Foundry shared the roadmap to  their innovative culture. It might be tempting to think of AT&T in a more traditional business sense, however, she described Foundry as a “culture within a culture.”

9 Indicators of an Innovative Company Culture

Yomtoubian also cautioned attendees about the trappings of “faux innovation” in the business world. If your organization is looking to infuse the qualities of real innovation into your culture, these indicators to consider:  

  1. Open and flexible workspace. There is some conversation these days about the downsides to the open office concept. That doesn’t mean it should be eliminated. Office space needs to be flexible to meet the needs of all employees – including spaces for alone time and collaboration.

  2. Employees who can handle both ambiguity and structure. Innovation is about balance. There’s that old saying, “Think Outside the Box.” Well, sometimes the best solutions come from “working within the institution.” It’s about knowing how and when to do both.

  3. Employees who can be both collaborative and experimental. They can connect internal stakeholders with informed external users. Enough cannot be said about the value of connections and networks. We must be able to listen to our biggest fans and our loudest critics.

  4. Speed is considered an organizational value. The business world moves way too fast. Employees and organizations must be able to manage change well. Careers and bottom-line results depend on it.

  5. Employees can take action over striving for a perfect outcome. Yomtoubian said that, at Foundry, “Innovation has a hall pass to perfection.” Employees are allowed to just let it go to market. This is a real paradigm shift in the business world. We see it regularly with technology.

  6. The goal is to have work that is sustainable within the organization. It makes no business sense to create something the organization cannot maintain. It will only lead to disappointment from customers and employees.

  7. Employees are trained to be “translators” and “guides.” Successful innovation involves connecting traditional, old school business with the disruptive, bootstrap start-up. With all the talk about disruption in the workplace, it’s nice to see that disruption isn’t being defined as anarchy.

  8. The organization allocates resources to be a thought leader in their industry. Companies cannot take for granted that they’re a thought leader. They must demonstrate it every single day in their words and in their actions.

  9. The organization is willing to build strategic alliances (even with competitors) to try new projects. This is one of the exciting parts about innovation. Companies are finding ways to partner and work together, where in the past this would have been forbidden. You’re not turning over company secrets. But new partnerships can lead to new products and services.

With any culture change, organizations have to add and adapt with their values. Not all of these indicators will align with the business, but they could provide some creative inspiration to organizations that feel innovation will provide a competitive business advantage and are struggling to introduce those components to their culture.

One parting thought to consider in looking at this list: it’s not enough to just introduce these concepts. Employees will need tools, training, and resources to successfully embrace these ideas. For some organizations, they’ve never done anything like this before. Setting employees up for successful change management is essential. It’s probably the biggest innovation of all.

Register now for the 2017 Great Place to Work Conference in Chicago on May 23-25!

 

Employees balancing the demands of career and family are hardly outliers. The Census Bureau estimates nearly 65 million Americans have children under 18 at home, and most of those parents work. Employers risk losing substantial resources in training, talent and institutional knowledge if they don't meet the needs of the mothers and fathers in their teams.

Great Place to Work recently found some valuable insight to that end while ranking the 2016 Best Workplaces for Parents. Among our findings: Substantial gaps persist between men and women; and child-centered benefits, while valuable, aren't everything to working moms and dads.

Don't leave moms behind

We surveyed 120,000 working parents. The leading companies enjoyed environments where employees' overall assessment of the workplace varied little between men and women, with and without children. Among co-workers at companies that didn't make the Best Workplaces, though, fathers scored their overall experience a full 7.7 percentage points higher than mothers, who also rated their workplaces lower than non-parents.

 

Source: Great Place to Work®

Unfortunately, generational data suggest that discrepancy isn't improving over time. Across all companies certified by Great Place to Work, mothers' overall impression of the workplace was nearly identical among Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials. The gap between moms and dads shrunk somewhat between older and younger cohorts, but only because younger fathers scored their companies slightly worse than their older colleagues. As more Millennials have children, this suggests employers will need to improve their support for mothers and fathers alike to retain talent in the years ahead.

Work still matters for working parents

Employees with kids aren't one-dimensional. The biggest workplace experience gaps between mothers and their colleagues, for example, are in areas related to promotions, fairness and how much management trusts employees. During discussions about parent-friendly programs, it's important not to lose sight of the fact that parents also want to be treated the same as their peers. That means an equal shot at promotions, training and an accurate perception of their work by managers. CA Technologies, one of the Best Workplaces for Parents, excels in this area, according to one mother who works there: "One other vital benefit is the support I get from my manager and peers. My manager provides me with opportunity to learn and grow, giving me guidance and support as I need it. I am paid very well and rewarded for the work I do. I am truly valued as an employee, and for that I have extreme loyalty to CA.”

Bolster benefits (but don't stop there)

The Best Workplaces stand out, in part, because of their generous perks specific to parents. Among the winners:

  • Paid maternity leave averaged 63 days
  • Paid paternity leave averaged 30 days
  • On-site childcare was available across locations at 25 percent of these companies, and 36 percent helped with the cost of childcare off-site. Also, 30 percent of these organizations reimbursed childcare expenses related to work travel.

These numbers are particularly exceptional given that only one in five large U.S. corporations offers paid parental leave at all; and the U.S. remains the only developed country without a nationwide requirement for paid leave after birth.

Nonetheless, analysis of the Best Workplaces for Parents showed that benefits like these weren't actually the biggest reasons behind parents' affection for their companies. Our research found that questions related to work-life balance and time off were actually among the least predictive in determining parents' intention to stay with their companies over the long term. The same turned out to be true for non-parents. The takeaway for employers is that, while PTO and benefits focused on work-life balance enhance employee experience across the board, they aren't the only thing necessary to support working parents.

In order for companies to put their best teams on the playing field, they need to attract and retain talented people from the vast population of parents in the workforce. Doing so means acknowledging the unique needs of colleagues with children while cultivating a high level of trust in the workplace for all.

Explore all of our Best Workplaces lists here.

 

Many see President-elect Donald Trump’s rise in popularity—and ultimately his election to the presidency—as a long-building reaction to identity politics and political correctness taken to extremes.  Nowhere is this tension more apparent than America’s college and university campuses, where some students claim that freedom of speech does not confer the right to express opinions they find distasteful.  The general attitude is that if one disagrees with them, then one is probably racist, xenophobic, sexist, bigoted, or all of the above. All of which begs the question: Does a person even belong in college if they cannot handle or tolerate differing opinions? 

Some critics of our elite colleges claim that what lies at the heart of multiculturalism, diversity, and political correctness is actually an intolerance of different opinions.  The hypocrisy, these critics claim, is that those proclaiming to be most sensitive to intolerance are too often the most intolerant, judging those with opposing views harshly.  Moreover, the legitimization of identity politics has tended to exclude consideration of some segments of America, namely a large white middle class that is hurting economically alongside Americans of all colors and creeds. 

The perhaps-understandable backlash to identity politics is causing fear among some that diversity and inclusion programs, as a result, will be rolled back in corporate America. 

This should not happen. What should happen is a broader understanding of what constitutes “diversity.”

ALPFA, the Association of Latino Professionals for America, consists of 44 professional and 160 chapters in colleges and universities across the country and, this week, 15 of our top student leaders had an opportunity to discuss pressing issues with the Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officer of Assurant, Alan Colberg, in an intimate lunch with his senior management team.

While diversity typically refers to demographics like gender, race, and ethnicity, Colberg informed the group: “When I say diversity, I’m referring to diversity of thought, which comes from different experiences in life, different backgrounds, and different educational perspectives.” Colberg discussed the research of a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review that explained why, after more than twenty years of intense diversity training and programs, on balance, equality in corporate America is not improving. 

Leaders just get it or they don’t. Alan seems to exude inclusion in both word and deed.  He has assembled a diverse board of directors, a diverse management team, and knows at his core that inclusion drives innovation, leading to his core values of “uncommon thinking generating uncommon results.”

I was recently reminded of David Foster Wallace‘s well-known commencement speech: “This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life.” Wallace begins with a parable:

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

He explains that, “The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” 

Great leaders recognize that talent and leadership abilities are distributed randomly. Therefore, they do not form judgments about a person based on ethnicity, gender, religion, age, or any other factor. They root out prejudice and biases in themselves and others and ensure that there is an equal opportunity at all levels for everyone to rise to a position of leadership on the basis of merit and character.  And then great leaders encourage their teams to leverage their distinctive strengths to spark innovation in the business.

One of these great leaders is our partner Jyoti Chopra, global head of diversity and inclusion at BNY Mellon, who has helped create a distinct competitive advantage at her firm through a diverse workforce with fresh perspectives that help spot untapped opportunities and unearth new innovations.

I believe President John F. Kennedy said it best at an address in June 1963 to students at American University in Washington D.C., "Let us not be blind to our differences--but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved.  And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity."

Diversity is a strength. But thinking about diversity in a diverse way… is perhaps the best way forward.

--

Find out what companies have been named to the 2016 Best Workplaces for Diversity List here.

 

While this is a political hot button, in business most leaders know that shying away from inclusion will lead to lower profits, less innovation, higher attrition and a status quo consumer market. While we will have a new President in the U.S., we still have a long way to go to a great place to work FOR ALL.

In the weeks following the U.S. election, the things that divide us suddenly feel a lot greater than the things that bring us together.

As we wait to see what a new administration could mean for the country, employers and jobs, it might be tempting to pause or pull back from activities that promote diversity and inclusion.

This retreat would ignore 35 years of business research. Year after year, study after study has shown diversity improves innovation, brand awareness and client retention, and results in higher revenue and gross profits. The latest data point can be found in the ranking my company—research and consulting firm Great Place to Work—just published with Fortune Magazine of the 2016 Best Workplaces for Diversity. According to our analysis, revenue growth at these 50 companies was 24% higher than at other U.S. organizations that are Great Places to Work-Certified™

A “Diversity retreat” would also defy our surveys of over 100,000,000 employees that say if you have a workforce that is dominated with people who feel:

  1. that their ideas matter as much as anyone else’s,
  2. that hard work will pay off for them in same way that it will for everyone else,
  3. that their leaders value and respect them and people like them,

they will double down on their commitment to the organization.

As we’ve learned through years of studying corporate culture, the best workplaces don’t hide their differences, they celebrate them. By honoring what makes individual employees and specific employee groups unique, workplaces establish environments where everyone feels valued, respected, safe, and that what they do makes a difference. And those organizations outperform less-inclusive, less-fair peers, because they’re better at cultivating the full human potential of all their people.

For three decades, many companies have been paying lip service to diversity. You don’t need to look hard to find examples of businesses that claim to be committed to recruiting more people of color, promoting more women into management positions, or offering more opportunities to people with physical disabilities. But putting promises into action can be more challenging than it looks.

Making Diversity Work

Getting started could be as simple as conducting an audit of the work experience of your management and staff broken out along gender and racial/ethnic lines to see where you are, and where you could improve. Our data shows significant differences in the work experiences across different demographic groups.  High attrition rates of the “hard to find” result from these differences

From there, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Here are some other suggestions, including some from companies on the 2106 Best Workplaces for Diversity, 2016 Best Workplaces for African Americans, Best Workplaces for Asian Americans, and  Best Workplaces for Latinos.

Go on the record. You’d be joining a number of U.S. CEOs who have publicly committed or recommitted to diversity programs. Immediately after the election, for example, Tim Ryan, U.S. chairman and senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, wrote on Medium, “Now, more than ever before, it is imperative to keep the dialogue going, respect our different points of view, and continue our commitment to be a fully inclusive workplace.” Likewise, Arne Sorenson President and CEO at Marriott International Inc. and an advocate for LGBT equality, published an open letter on LinkedIn urging President-elect Donald Trump to use his position promote inclusiveness, including at work. And earlier this year, Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, celebrated his firm’s diverse workforce even as he spoke out in defense of the Black Lives Matter movement.

What do you SEE? When you look at your Board of Directors, Executive Team and Senior Managers, what do you see? Do you see people that look like your desired customer base?  Or do they look like you? Do these “pictures” give your employees the confidence that if they excel they can make it to one of these levels? If not, your efforts will weaken your credibility as a leader. They will also weaken the effectiveness of your Diversity Executive. We have surveyed 100,000,000 employees. We can tell you with 99% confidence that you are about to lose great people because your actions don’t match your diversity messaging.

Reject the “Hard to Find” crap. Your company innovates and solves highly complex problems everyday. Using the exact same leadership focus, curiosity, design thinking you can solve this problem too. Ben & Jerry’s is based in Vermont where less than 2% of the population is African-American, yet they exceed that number in their employee base. Why? They set interview targets that require that recruiters develop a diverse pool of “HIGHLY QUALIFIED” candidates before the manager can start the interview process. Due to pressure from managers, only great, value-adding recruiters have survived.

Put someone in charge. But make sure this individual is an outstanding senior executive whose track record is at least equal to those on the senior leadership team. If not, your efforts will not deliver results. The employees will see this appointment as politically driven vs. business-performance driven. Initiatives won’t go far without an innovative leader who will disrupt the status quo; that is what the companies on our list have done. It’s not surprising that many organizations on our best workplaces for diversity lists have outstanding executives in upper management-level positions who oversee their organization’s diversity efforts and report directly to the CEO or other C-suite executive. Some of those organizations include PwC, which has a chief diversity officer; NVidia, which has a chief administrative officer responsible for meeting diversity goals; Hyatt Hotels Corp., and USAA.

Create opportunities to celebrate differences. Companies such as Baptist Health South Florida and FedEx Corp. host multiple events throughout the year where employees learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds. A substantial portion of employees at Katalyst Technologies are from India, so to celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, the company sends boxes of traditional Indian sweets to its Indian employees along with cards signed by managers.

Make a financial commitment to do better. At the same time Microsoft disclosed failing to achieve diversity milestones for 2016, the company said starting in 2017 it will tie meeting those goals to senior executives’ bonuses. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella also talks about diversity at monthly Q&A sessions with employees. And the company publishes an annual diversity report.

Get involved. Companies are showing their support of employees by coming together to tackle an onslaught of state bills limiting LGBT and transgender people’s rights expected to be introduced at the beginning of 2017. Salesforce, No. 35 on the 2016 Best Workplaces for Diversity, helped organize a mid-November summit to discuss strategies for addressing Texas legislation that would void nondiscrimination ordinances, and proposals elsewhere that would restrict LGBT rights.

Read more on the topic in our new report on the Best Workplaces for Diversity. And expect to hear more from us on this important topic in the coming months, including at the Great Place to Work FOR ALL conference in Chicago in May 2017.

Don’t retreat or head to the sidelines. Go deeper into what we call the “trust game”—creating a work environment where every employee trusts their leaders, takes pride in their jobs and enjoys their colleagues. Deepen your commitment to create a great place to work FOR ALL. Do it for your people. Do it for your business results.

Do it for your country. Because work is a space that can help unite the United States during this divided time. It is a space where trust—among people of different political persuasions, of different education levels, races, sexes, ages and sexual orientations—can be rebuilt. Where bonds of friendship can grow. Great workplaces for all can help our society come together, stronger, greater than ever.

 

Why Zocdoc and Other Forward-Thinking Companies are Giving Their Teams an “Unsick” Day

Here at Zocdoc, we live and breathe healthcare access. We created our platform with the goal of using technology to simplify the healthcare experience, so patients can easily access the care they need and deserve. As an extension of this mission, we’ve also prioritized offering great healthcare benefits to our team members. So, we were shocked when we recently learned that only one-third of our employees were going to the doctor for their preventive care.

It brought into sharp focus a fact that many of us know: There’s a serious cultural conflict between work and health that prevents people from being their healthiest and most productive selves.

Today, working Americans rarely leave their desks to have lunch, let alone to visit the doctor for important check-ups. According to a new survey Zocdoc conducted in partnership with Kelton Global, three out of five (60%) employed Americans feel uncomfortable leaving work for preventive care appointments, with the majority citing their employer or company culture for making them feel that way. The result? Nearly nine in ten (86%) admit they would cancel or reschedule an appointment due to workplace pressures.

This conflict isn’t just bad for employees’ health, it’s bad for business. According to one estimate, “presenteeism”—or employees performing below full productivity because they go to work sick—costs employers $160 billion per year, more than twice the estimated cost of absenteeism due to illness. And companies are spending millions on providing health benefits, which are being vastly underutilized.

To break down this pervasive cultural norm and create a healthier workforce, we introduced a new initiative for 2017 called Unsick Day. Unsick Day is a new type of day off from work—without penalty, and with explicit permission and encouragement—for employees to take care of the important healthcare appointments that are easy to put off, like physicals and teeth cleanings.

Alongside founding partners including Oscar, Handy, Buffer, Foursquare and others, we’re calling on companies to join us to empower every working American to take the time to go to the doctor before they get sick. When employers encourage their teams to get the care they need, everybody wins. In fact, nearly half of employed Americans are more likely to choose or stay with a company that offers time off for preventive care. And the CDC reports that if every American received the recommended clinical preventive care, we could save more than 100,000 lives every year.

Unsick Day is an important step in helping employers become more active in making preventive care a priority in their workplace. With thousands of Unsick Days already granted to employees in 2017, we’re inviting other forward-thinking companies to take a stand for their team’s health. Employers and employees can visit www.unsickday.com to join us in making work-health balance the new workplace norm.

 

Why a heartfelt “thank you” is one of the most powerful phrases in the workplace

I am not a huge fan of reality TV. Though, given I’ve spent my career studying workplace culture, I’ve been known to catch an episode of CBS’s Undercover Boss in my day.

You may be familiar with it; this is the show where the CEO or other top leader of a large company goes “undercover” at his or her company, taking on a job such as a cashier, a sanitation engineer, or a factory line worker, to get an honest look at what it’s like to work on the front lines of their organization.

While I am always left to question just how “undercover” the bosses are as they show up for their first day of work with a wig and glasses on (and followed by a camera crew to boot), one thing that has always struck me as 100% authentic are the feelings expressed at the end of the show when the CEO comes out of hiding and delivers a heartfelt thank you to employees for their hard work.

During this climactic “reveal,” where each front-line worker sits face-to-face with the company’s top leader, the power of a sincere thank you becomes evident. The employee and the CEO are both invariably moved to tears as the CEO recounts, in detail, what he or she noticed about the employee’s hard work—and typically offers to invest in the employee’s professional development as a reward.

Whether it’s the fast food manager who made sure her store was spotless for customers, the rancher who took tremendous pride in caring for dairy cows, or the delivery person who built a solid reputation in the community with his friendly attitude and speedy service, all of these employees were highly committed to doing their jobs well. They showed a solid work ethic, a belief in the brand, and a true sense of pride in their work—all qualities that any leader seeks in their employees.

However, these employees had rarely ever been thanked for their hard work.

Thanks from the boss aren’t just the stuff of reality show reveals and warm fuzzies. Gratitude at work gives back in the form of higher performance by employees and teams. For example, in a series of experiments on gratitude, professor Adam Grant of the Wharton School and associate professor Francisca Gino of Harvard Business School found that subjects who were thanked for their input had higher levels of self-worth, were more likely to be helpful and productive.

“People might just not realize how powerful expressions of gratitude are,” said Gino. “By missing chances to express gratitude, organizations and leaders lose relatively cost-free opportunities to motivate.”

Why do the words “thank you” hold so much power? It’s partly because when a boss expresses genuine gratitude to an employee they are really saying: “I see you. I value the work you are doing. I know you’ve given of yourself so that you could give to this company. I noticed, and it’s important to me that you know that.”

And this has the power to lift us up, to keep us moving, even when the going gets tough. Saying “thank you” cuts a direct path through the noise of our jobs and our roles, building an authentic heart-to-heart connection between two human beings.

At great workplaces large and small, a consistent thread is a culture of appreciation.  Saying “thank you” is engrained in the culture. It’s a regular occurrence – not something that only happens on a special occasion.

This Thanksgiving, remember the power of these two simple words for both your business and for your employees’ sense of self-worth. Thank your employees for their work, for their dedication, for bringing their unique gifts to the workplace.

It may not be captured on camera, but the result can last a lifetime.

Is your company a great workplace? Click here to learn more about how you can become Great Place to Work® Certified.

Creating Coherence in Your Work Experience

Fall is a season where we experience big transition, and while it is not yet the end of the calendar year, in many ways it can feel like a new beginning. In our organizations we are often coming together to plan for the new year, setting budgets and establishing our strategies. Some organizations host large consumer conferences in the fall, allowing them to spread their new ideas and launch products at this energizing time. Many organizations are also wrapping up sales and budget cycles to begin their new fiscal year.

While we might not change the calendar yet, fall is a significant time of change that necessitates alignment, both in and across teams, as well as in ourselves as individuals. At Great Place to Work, alignment is the first step on our Great Place to Work® Roadmap Process that we use as the foundation for our culture change consulting services. After years of working with and researching great workplaces we know that strong alignment at all levels of the organization is key to successful change and growth.

Aligned and Adaptive Teams

During times of change and reflection it is particularly important that leaders are in tune with all elements of their business reality and bring that awareness to their teams. When organizations operate in a low-trust environment employees are more likely to operate at a lower state of mind. There are many ways of describing this reactive low-state, which author and neuroscience expert Christine Comaford calls the “critter state”. In this state people are driven by fear and a desire to protect themselves. In teams at work this could show up as a lack of collaboration, low levels of engagement, or a tendency to focus on problems that are not strategic or relevant. Particularly during important times of planning leaders need to be aware of these tendencies and pull their teams to a higher level of thinking. In her book Smart Tribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together, Comaford recommends five approaches to help elevate teams to what she calls a “smart state”:

  • Focus: Be aware of what is most important and allow other things to take a backseat
  • Clarity: Be aware of why you are doing certain things and not others
  • Accountability: Have clear expectations, ownership, rewards and consequences
  • Influence: Be able to understand, empower and motivate your people
  • Sustained Results: Have energy to enjoy your work and not experience burnout

A Tool for Individual Awareness

While all of these tools are excellent for supporting teams, it is challenging for leaders to implement these approaches in their teams if they cannot do so also within themselves. Self-awareness has long been an important trait of successful leaders, a belief which has been bolstered in the last several years by the success of mindfulness training and neuroscience-based approaches to leadership and interpersonal interactions. There is little doubt in the scientific community that increased self-awareness facilitates better leadership and interpersonal connection, allowing individual leaders to truly move their teams to that desired “smart state”.

There are now seemingly endless ways to bringing awareness to your practice as a leader, but one that encompasses many aspects of both neuroscience and mindfulness, is Dr. Dan Siegel’s mindsight approach. At the heart of his approach is the concept of integration, which entails the linking of multiple different aspects, of either an individual or group.

In an individual leader, integration involves the connecting of mental and physical activities such as thoughts, feelings, sensations, or logic, into one complete experience. When leaders are highly integrated within themselves they are aware of all of their internal responses and activities as part of a whole self. This kind of integration creates optimal performance as it enables flexibility, adaptability and creativity. The mindsight approach encourages this way of being by refocusing attention to change the way your brain responds to stimuli, internally and externally. Leaders functioning in this manner are less reactive and more thoughtful. They are more attuned to the ways their teams work, and can understand and empathize with others more effectively. How could we expect leaders to move their teams into a “smart state” of being, without being there themselves?

The Advantage of Alignment

Whether we call it integration, coherence, or alignment, all these concepts point to the same experience – one of stability and harmony, where things come together in a unified way. At Great Place to Work we see alignment, particularly among senior leaders, as a key differentiator in what makes a great workplace. Alignment creates consistency of decision and action. From top to bottom organizations who are clear on what they do, and how and why they do it, are more effective and are able to build stronger cultures.

As we move through this season of change and our actions and decisions shape the year to come, it is important that we think critically about this concept of alignment and integration. As a leader, are you aligned within yourself? Can you explain your actions and decisions in a coherent and unified manner? And are your teams aligned within themselves? Are you all rowing in the same direction with the same understanding of one another and the objectives of the group? If not, it might be time to consider using a new approach to develop the kind of awareness you need to lead an aligned and committed team into the new year.

Hannah Jones is a Consultant at Great Place to Work®.

Click here to learn more about how Great Place to Work can help align your culture to your business outcomes.

 

Leading retailers treat their people better, and employees give a lot more back to the company

Front-line workers in the shopping sector have scored some meaningful victories of late. The Mall of America will remain closed this Thanksgiving for the first time since 2012. The City of Seattle recently passed a “secure scheduling” measure that requires large retailers and restaurants to set shifts at least two weeks in advance and compensate workers for last-minute changes. That echoes actions by the New York attorney general and a similar law passed in San Francisco two years ago. Both curb on-demand scheduling that can cut or cancel team members' hours based on real-time store performance data – a management technique that boosts margins but makes employees' work schedules impossible to predict. Even WalMart has embraced “efficiency wages,” an economic theory that the cost of better salaries will be offset by gains in productivity and lower turnover.

Of course, none of this is new thinking for a share of retailers that recognize just how critical their employees are to their customer service. The Best Workplaces in Retail we at Great Place to Work® recently announced with Fortune set themselves far apart from the industry's popular image as a grueling field with few prospects for advancement. To the contrary, 94 percent of colleagues at these companies say they're proud to tell others where they work. Nine in ten say they're offered benefits that are special or unique, and 85 percent say they look forward to coming to work each day.

Winning companies like Publix offer some actionable examples for other retailers looking to recreate these results and join the trend toward an engaged, high-trust workplace. Even as it contends with the same thin margins as competing grocers, Publix offers generous retirement programs to full-time and part-time employees alike. Associates receive a holiday bonus and the possibility of additional payments based on store performance.

Co-workers also take to heart the ways the leading employers invest in their careers. Publix and Wegmans are both known for their education programs, with the latter providing more than $100 million in college scholarships to more than 32,000 employees over the past three decades. In the highly competitive world of auto sales, CarMax also makes a commitment to training staff from day one. Every new associate pairs up with a mentor who earns rewards based on the new employee's early sales.

Whatever form it takes, training has been shown in our research to inspire dedication in the workforce. Among all part-time retail employees we surveyed, those who say they receive career development were twice as likely to say they plan to stay with their companies for a long time. These employees were also twice as likely to say their teams are willing to give extra to get the job done.

Often, cultivating loyalty and trimming turnover involves simpler gestures to show employees they aren't seen as mere cogs in a merchandizing machine. Build-A-Bear Workshop, for example, highlights birthdays with a paid day off and hands out collectible toys to recognize holidays and work anniversaries. REI puts its outdoorsy culture into practice by closing its stores on Black Friday and encouraging employees to do something fun outside.

Gestures like these might seem like outliers now. But the leading employers are at the forefront of a broader movement toward more career investment and better work-life balance in the industry. As more companies follow the lead of the Best Workplaces, the result will be a retail sector more attractive to employees, customers and business leaders alike.

Michael C. Bush is CEO of Great Place to Work®.

Is your company a great workplace? Learn how you can become Great Place to Work® Certified

Top global companies treat employees equally regardless of what they do, where they’re based or how long they’ve been there.

If you’ve been to Disneyland in California or one of its sister theme parks, you’ve probably visited It’s a Small World at least once - or a what may feel like a thousand times if you’ve got kids.

The boat ride through a fantasyland of cutesy children and clever critters was the height of amusement park innovation when it debuted. But it also speaks to a universal truth - deep down, we’re all the same.

The 2016 25 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list that we just announced takes that concept to heart, and not in a superficial way. Despite operations that span the globe, employees at this year’s Best Multinationals describe working in a unified corporate culture, one where communications and expectations are clear, and where people feel equal, cared for and supported in their careers and life outside work.

Creating the close-knit atmosphere is no small feat when you consider Google, Daimler Financial Services, Diageo and other companies on this year’s list operate in a dozen countries or more and have workforces that range from 6,000 to more than 200,000.

Despite their size, these organizations have imbued their global operations with that small-world feeling by treating employees the same regardless of position. They also include people in initiatives and celebrations no matter where they’re based or how long they’ve been employees.

For one example, look at Autodesk, Inc., No. 8 on this year’s list. The San Francisco 3D design and engineering company shows its inclusiveness by regularly taking part in that city’s annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride parade, and encourages its global workforce of 8,376 to come along for the ride. For one recent parade, Autodesk decorated a float with employee statements on what pride means to them. Participants’ names were entered in a drawing for round-trip tickets for two to fly to San Francisco for the event, with winners chosen from each region where the company operates. One prize winner from Bucharest, Romania, proposed to his boyfriend on the Golden Gate Bridge the day before the parade.

The Rising Tide of Great Workplaces for All

According to the Trust Index© survey Great Place to Work® uses to measure employees’ levels of trust, pride and camaraderie, 83% of employees at Autodesk and this year’s other top multinational workplaces say their organizations feel like a family or team, and 82% report that “we’re all in this together.” Those feelings help explain why overall Trust Index scores for workplace camaraderie at best global companies have risen from 2011 to 2016.

In addition to camaraderie, employees at the Best Multinational Workplaces have shown higher levels of trust and pride in their employers over the past half dozen years, according to our Trust Index surveys. The overall Trust Index benchmark for the 25 World’s Best has inched up since 2011. It’s a sign that around the world, great workplaces are working to be great for all.

Chart

One U.K. employee at Adobe Systems, Inc. , the global information technology company and No. 22 on this year’s list, sums up how great workplaces are great for all, saying:

“Having worked for 20-plus years for different companies, I was amazed at the difference (in how) this company treats and respects its employees. They have a great balance between working smart, caring for the local community, and allowing employees to enjoy their personal lives. It’s a great company with a true balance across the globe allowing individuals to succeed if they want to do so.”

Taking Steps to Keep Employees Informed, Engaged, and Celebrated

Like other workplaces that are great for all, this year’s best multinationals take deliberate steps to keep employees happy, celebrated and well informed. Managers at the Ireland office of Cadence Design Systems (#15) schedule “stay interviews” with direct reports to identify issues that could prompt them to want to quit. Once a year, employees working at the Swiss office of Google (#1) vote on Citizenship Awards for technical support personnel who maintain infrastructure, deal with emergencies and otherwise labor behind the scenes.

Great global workplaces may cultivate a uniform corporate culture, but not at the expense of employees’ differences. At the Swiss headquarters of staffing and management services conglomerate Adecco Group (#7), employees participate in a Language at Lunchtime program where they can learn or improve language skills, talking with coworkers who hail from 30 countries. SAS Institutes’ Netherlands’ office started an “SAS Einsteins” advisory board so entry-level workers had a way to share opinions and outlooks with management. NetApp (#6) encourages independent thinking by holding twice yearly Outrageous Opinions pitch sessions in its Netherlands office where engineers submit ideas for new products or services. The top eight present in front of an audience, and four winners receive gift certificates and a chance that the company will adopt their innovations.

The best multinational organizations are proof that having a great workplace for everyone isn’t a fantasy or something restricted to specific organizations, parts of the world or types of employees. As these outstanding global employers have shown, it really is a small world after all.

Reputation, Resumes & Video Interviews

If you want to be added to a company’s roster of employees, then you need to show that you'd be a good fit.

The information presented in this infographic report shows that employers in this digital age are definitely watching what prospective job candidates are doing online -- and what they find can make or break your chances of being hired.

As you can well imagine, human resources departments want to make the right choices when it comes to selecting applicants to fill specific positions. Why? An Entrepreneur.com article cites a survey showing that 41% of HR people and hiring managers who've hired the wrong person state that they suffered thousands of dollars in financial losses stemming from the error. So don’t allow your online behavior to disqualify you from jobs that you otherwise would have been perfect for.

Looking for work in the digital age is hard work, and it’ll take the same sort of dedication as it would take to earn a university degree or to earn an MBA after doing the GMAT. So read on for some tips on how you can become the sort of candidate that companies want on their rosters.

Reputation

As was mentioned earlier, everything you do online leaves a digital path that employers can follow, and if they find things that suggest you might have questionable judgement -- inappropriate pics, insensitive blog posts, or rude forum comments -- they might turn you down as a job candidate.

Consider the following findings in the aforementioned report:

  • Three-quarters of recruiters will do online research of candidates
  • Seven in 10 recruiters have turned down candidates based on what they discovered


So be careful what you do online. You should delete anything online that could potentially sink your job hopes, and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to keep your personal social media accounts private so that only people you choose can actually see them.

Resume

Get the most out of your resume by posting it on LinkedIn. While the previously mentioned report notes that 89% of recruiters have retained someone through the social networking site, a mere 36% of job seekers are using LinkedIn regularly. Be sure to fill out your profile completely. You’ll be able to make a good first impression and show employers that you’d make a good employee.

Video Resume

Around 90% of resumes come in the same old format, but videos are the fastest-growing type of content online, says the same report. Using YouTube, Vimeo, or Vine, you can make a video resume to set yourself apart from competitors, showcase your past accomplishments, and demonstrate you’re comfortable using technology.

Video Interview

And hopefully that comfort with technology will transfer over to video interviews since it’s very possible that you might have to take part in one someday. In order to feel like a pro, you can practice your skills on Skype with a friend so that you have a better idea of what the real interview will be like. And be sure that you research the companies you’ll be interviewing with so that you have an idea of what questions to ask if given that opportunity during the video interview.

Job hunting during the digital age is hard work, particularly when you’re dealing with companies that understand the high cost of hiring workers who don’t pan out. HR staff members have lots of candidates to choose from, so they won’t likely take a chance on questionable applicants. If you build a good online reputation and put into practice the other tips listed above, you’ll increase your odds of getting job offers.



Vera Marie Reed is a contributor to the Great Place to Work® blog.

Small and mid-sized companies can be talent magnets and see revenue take off with a culture that builds pride and gives employees a chance to make a difference.

Even though they account for 55 percent of all U.S. jobs, small and mid-sized businesses often trail behind their larger counterparts when it comes to career appeal. What successful small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) lack in brand recognition, though, they more than make up for in company pride and opportunities to make a personal impact. Here's how:

Credibility at the top

When a business has fewer than 1,000 employees, there's a good chance that everyone has met the CEO. At a small company, she might only work a few feet away. This makes employees especially attuned to the actions and integrity of their leaders.

In fact, Great Place to Work's survey of more than 52,000 SMB employees revealed that co-workers' responses regarding their leaders' ethics and competence were closely related to having a positive impression of their companies overall – even more so than pay or benefits. When we recently announced the country's Best Small and Medium Workplaces with Fortune, the leading companies also stood out for the ways they ingrained sound business practices into their cultures.

Take Intuitive Research and Technology Corp.: The president of this aerospace engineering firm meets with groups of new hires to have a face-to-face discussion about ethics over lunch, including specific examples of decisions the business has made in the past. The good will and pride this type of interaction generates among employees has a business impact. SMB employees we surveyed who expressed pride in their workplaces were 18 times more likely to say they wanted to stay with their employers for a long time, boosting institutional knowledge and giving the leading companies an edge in a tightening market for talent.

Making business personal

The Best Workplaces not only make their people proud, they also keep them engaged in the mission. Many smaller businesses achieve this by focusing on their natural connection to their communities. Granite Properties, for example, grants each employee a full 40 hours of time off to volunteer annually, with committees and online resources to help coordinate that work.

It's also essential to give employees a sense that they're connected to the organization's future. Each quarter, colleagues at software company Atlassian have 24 hours to work on any project related to their technology, office or culture. The best ideas earn awards at a contest, and many go on to become fully developed products.

That ability to make a mark on the organization is one of the most attractive aspects of SMBs among job seekers, and the leading companies use it to their advantage. Employees gave the Best Small and Medium Workplaces consistently better marks on topics linked to innovation compared to organizations that didn't make the list. These factors include management's receptiveness to new ideas, cooperation and leaders' willingness to recognize an honest mistake, which gives employees leeway to try new things.

Great cultures reap big rewards

Cultivating a high level of creativity, credibility and internal trust pays off in dollar terms. Our research found that the Best Small and Medium Workplaces experienced revenue growth roughly three times higher than their peers last year showing just how much value a strong culture can contribute to a smaller company.



Resource-strapped small and mid-sized companies may believe that they don’t have what they need in order to invest in a strong culture. However, as these winning companies demonstrate, some of the most meaningful efforts are not only free of cost—but well worth the investment.

How often do you say “I’m sorry” at work for the wrong reasons?

Kim Greenspan realized she said it a lot, and then decided to do something about it.

Greenspan is a marketing director at national accounting firm Plante Moran, No. 29 on this year’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women. After her epiphany, she put a “Sorry” jar on her desk and vowed to put $1 in it any time she found herself saying “I’m sorry” when she didn’t need to. “For example, saying ‘I’m sorry’ as a way to interject my opinion during a phone conference instead of just saying ‘This is Kim, I think…..’” Greenspan wrote to female colleagues. “Or saying ‘Sorry’ when I really mean ‘Oops’ or ‘Thanks for your patience,’ or ‘I apologize for missing that deadline and here’s what I’m going to do to make up for it.’

She invited other women she worked with to do the same.

The conversation about words and language Greenspan started with her “Sorry” jar is a vivid example of the open communication that exist at this year’s Best Workplaces for Women, communication helps female employees feel empowered.

A Culture Where Women Employees Feel Listened To

After analyzing hundreds of Great Place to Work®-Certified companies that we considered for this year’s list, we found a significant difference in communications at organizations that went on to be list winners and those that did not. Specifically, these workplaces cultivate an atmosphere where women feel listened to, which helps them feel like they have a voice in the organization.

At this year’s winners, 88% of women employees say management is approachable and easy to talk to. Women at winners also find managers keep them informed of important issues and changes (85%), give them straight answers to questions (84%), seek out suggestions and ideas (84%), and involve people in making decisions that affect them (79%).

Part of the reason for good communications channels at top workplaces for women could be the substantially larger presence of women in managerial roles. At 2016 winners, 54% of managers and senior managers or executives are women, compared to 35% at non-winners.

Winners also had more mentors and coaching, the better for women to see themselves in those roles further along in their own careers. Greenspan’s workplace, Plante Moran, hosts monthly networking breakfasts for women employees at all elves, and sponsors a Women in Leadership Committee that matches senior-level women associates with both male and female partners. Quicken Loans, No. 11 on the list, runs a six-month mentoring program that pairs women employees with senior leaders. Baker Donelson (53) offers women attorneys one-on-one mentoring and mentor circles, among other support.

All’s Fair at the Office

In our history of evaluating great workplaces, we’ve also come to know that organizations with open lines of communications are more likely to cultivate a climate of fairness. That holds for this year’s best workplaces for women, where 94% of female employees feel they’re treated fairly regardless of gender, and 83% feel they’d be given the opportunity to appeal if they were treated unfairly.

That atmosphere of open communications and fairness can help employees - women and men - get over insecurities they may have about their work and language at work.

The “Sorry/Not sorry” phenomenon has been kicking around for a while. One company used it in a TV commercial to sell shampoo. Another created a free app to block its appearance in email messages. It’s led to a public debate over whether or not women should censor what they say at work or how they say it. Some advocate letting women and men talk the way they want at work but focusing more attention on letting people be heard. Others think banning “I’m sorry” is the right thing to do depending on the circumstances.

At Plante Moran, Greenspan hoped her “Sorry” jar would trigger stronger voices for women.

“Join me if you like,” she told female colleagues. “I’m going to empty the jar out every month and buy a treat for all. Soon it should be empty, and we’ll be starving for sugar…but feeling so much more empowered.”

Whatever path employees choose, we’re behind workplaces that help women feel heard and empowered.

Read more about the 2016 Best Workplaces for Women and reviews of all 100 winners here.

How to Boost Employee Morale, Recruit Top Talent,  and Attract Customers with Your Certification

You’ve certified as a great workplace through Great Place to Work®—congratulations! Now put that certification to work. The fact that your employees themselves endorsed your culture as great is a valuable tool for lifting morale even higher, for attracting high-quality talent, and for wooing customers. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your certification—with examples from other Great Place to Work-Certified™ organizations.

  1. Tell your most powerful asset—your people—about your Certification.
    High-trust companies experience an average of ~50% less voluntary turnover than industry peers—giving them an edge over competitors. Make sure your employees know how you stack up! Being Great Place to Work-Certified™ is a great way to show your employees that they’re working at a company that cares about them, and one they can be proud of. After you’ve become Certified, it’s important to share the achievement with your employees.

    • Send a note to your co-workers:
      Congratulations! Thanks to your feedback, we are now a Great Place to Work-Certified™ company. This hard-won recognition reflects our ongoing commitment to our people. Check out our full Great Place to Work Review to find out what your colleagues had to say about working at our company!
  2. Showcase your Certification online to attract more great employees.
    As you compete for top talent, your Certification as a great workplace is a powerful advantage. Advertise your employees’ endorsement of your culture throughout your network. And make sure your Certification is renewed each year so your company can recruit top talent that is the right fit to grow your organization.
    • Post your Certification badge on your careers page, as retailer Century 21 did:

       


    • Share your Certification badge on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, etc.). Check out these examples from technology advisory firm Comcast, communications consulting firm Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Roth Staffing Companies:

       

       

       

  3. Tell your most powerful asset—your people—about your Certification.
    Employees who love where they work provide great customer experiences and increase customer loyalty. Display your Certification and make customers proud to be associated with your high-performing, people-friendly brand.
    • Display your badge on merchandise, as health care provider UCHealth did here:

       


    • Or throw a party, as software firm Accela did!

       


Becoming Great Place to Work-Certified™ is a great accomplishment—in part because you are contributing to the movement to create a better world through Great Places to Work For ALL. Certification also has practical benefits. Your Great Place to Work® Certification can further motivate your people, can help you recruit and retain top talent and can boost public confidence in your organization.

We’d love to help you achieve those goals. If you’d like more guidance on how to get the most out of your badge, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Not Great Place to Work-Certified™ yet?

Growing companies can learn from the nation’s Best Small Workplaces.

Periods of growth are vital (and often daunting) phases for small organizations. How do you engage your workforce to not only stick with the company during a period of change, but also to also aid in the growth process – becoming key advocates for your brand?

Best Small Workplace Insomniac Games, a Burbank-based video game developer with just over 200 employees, shows us the value of “sharing everything” with employees. The company increased its headcount by 150% over a two-year period with explosive success, which leaders credit in part to the company’s deep commitment to transparency.

As the organization built their high-trust culture, Chief People Officer Carrie Dieterle reports that Insomniac Games has held nothing back from employees unless “contractually obligated to do so.” By opening the lines of communication, employees feel energized by and included in the company strategy, and understand how they drive it forward.

As a result, they are the company’s strongest advocates. Said Dieterle, “When I think about the benefit of transparency and not holding anything back, I think that you have just engaged an entire workforce in driving your business forward.”


Small businesses can learn from some of the actions that Insomniac Games and other Best Small Workplaces have taken to build trust-based cultures that help employees become brand advocates:

  1. Institute programs that foster transparency, such as Insomniac Games’ “Ask Me Anything” online portal, where culture-related questions are personally answered by the company’s Founder/CEO.

    Transparency at any organization results in trust, and trust, as we know, is a vital component of great workplaces. Honesty and transparency in personal relationships is hugely important—a friend or partner hiding or refusing to disclose relevant information leads to mistrust, and the same concept can be applied to organizations. However, when employees feel that upper management is willing to share information, a culture of trust and fairness is fostered. For example, at #1 Best Small Workplace Radio Flyer, employees say they’re like a family. “I come [to work] each day excited to see what’s in store and how we can improve ourselves,” said one Radio Flyer employee.

  2. Provide opportunities for employees to speak candidly (and privately) with leadership, such as Insomniac Games’ one-on-one “IF” (Insomniac Future) meetings, where employees provide feedback/opinions to the Chief People Officer.

    One-on-one meetings where an employee can share ideas or opinions with leadership furthers transparency within an organization (keeping open channels of communication) but also helps to ensure every employee feels like an important part of the team. Such programs help to develop employees that not only trust their leaders, but also feel invested in the company’s future. At the 2015 50 Best Small and Medium Companies, 86% of employees on average reported that “management involves people in decisions that affect their jobs or work environment.”

  3. Create multiple channels for information sharing such as Insomniac Games’ “Daily Decision” emails or “CEO Walk Arounds”.

    Is everyone rowing in the same direction? As even the best workplaces increase in size, it can be easy for important information to get lost along the way, resulting in a serious detriment to the goals of trust and transparency. Having multiple channels for information-sharing helps to cement transparency within an organization, ensuring that all employees are privy to the same information. Best Small Workplace Limeade, which scored 100% on the survey statement: “Taking everything into account, I would say this a great place to work,” has a “Director of Culture and Wellbeing” who helps to ensure that employees have a consistently positive work experience.

What’s the ultimate ROI for a culture of trust and transparency?

For Insomniac Games, a culture of trust allowed for easy delegation of responsibility and significantly increased their game production each year, lowered turnover rates, and created brand advocates out of employees. The company reports that their efforts to build trust and transparency have also led to a 79% increase in knowledge sharing, a 32% drop in benefit costs to the company, and 53% increase in employee referrals. “People believe in Insomniac Games,” says Dieterle. “Employees know they have a voice, they know they have a say.”

To learn more on fostering transparency and engaging employees during times of growth, read the full Insomniac Games case study here.