Great Place to Work® Annual Conference

Great Place to Work® Annual Conference

New Perspectives from Top Leaders on What It Means to be “Great”

One of the key aspects of each Great Place to Work® Annual Conference is the ability to learn from successful businesses who have achieved Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® and Great Place to Work® 50 Best Small & Medium Workplaces recognition.

In 2015, the conference hosted 1,300 attendees representing 380 organizations across the U.S. Some of the most powerful learning at each conference comes from the Keynote Speaker presentations, where top leaders of recognized Fortune Best Companies to Work For and the Great Place to Work® Institute share their experience, wisdom, and innovative best practices for fostering positive workplace culture.

Kick-Off Insights: Great Place to Work® and Twitter
Great Place to Work® CEO Michael Bush shared that the basis for any great workplace is not just great perks and benefits but strong, trust based relationships and a universal sense of inclusion. He imparted a call to action for leaders, to create a great workplace for all.

Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter, built on this opening message through his interview with Fortune Sr. Editor Chris Tkaczyk. Costolo emphasized his transparent approach to leadership and total opposition to “spinning” messages in favor of promoting and encouraging discourse amongst all employees as a means to discovering truth.

Keynote Insights: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) and Clif Bar & Co.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta President and CEO Donna Hyland took the stage to share just how impactful a focus on culture is for their organization. Hyland stressed that CHOA’s purpose is to care for kids and that it is her job as a leader to continuously keep that purpose (which unites the organization and creates greater results) at the forefront of employee’s thoughts.

Hyland also shared that after rolling out a well-defined people strategy, CHOA, who is a 10-time Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For winner, began receiving 100,000 employee applications each year and their vacancy rate dropped to 2%. Beyond this, the focus on culture helped the organization develop a brand for their exceptionally caring and highly trained staff.

Clif Bar & Company CEO Kevin Cleary closed day one of the conference with a poignant discussion on work/life balance. Cleary noted that typically an employee's life is forced to "grow in the cracks" of an inflexible work schedule, and that employers should encourage employees to lead whole and healthy lives

  1. Infusing employees' work with a sense of purpose
  2. Promoting community building within the company
  3. Modeling living a healthy, balanced life themselves, and
  4. Offering benefits that put time and money back in the pockets of employees.


Keynote Insights: Bright Horizons Family Solutions and The Cheesecake Factory
David Lissy, CEO and Danroy Henry, CHRO of Bright Horizons Family Solutions (a 16-time Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For) kicked off day two of the keynote presentations. Lissy and Henry noted that it is critical for leaders at Bright Horizons to invest their time and energy in company culture and that their H.E.A.R.T. principles have become the company's "internal constitution" that guides leadership, connects and aligning employees, and serves as the core of their people-focused workplace culture. Lissy expressed his strong belief that the company’s outstanding culture serves as their competitive edge.

The closing keynote presentation for the 2015 conference came from David Gordon, President of The Cheesecake Factory, a Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list newcomer. Gordon extolled the importance of connecting employees to the purpose of the company as a way of driving excellence and shared that at Cheesecake Factory stores with higher engagement scores, attrition was 50% lower and profitability 20% higher than stores with lower engagement. He expressed something we at Great Place to Work® define as “walking the talk,” remarking that rather than simply being words on a page, employees and leaders alike strive to live their company’s mission everyday.

Despite the variety of organizations represented, several key themes emerged:

  1. Leaders share a true value and respect for their employees as people and as professionals;
  2. Connection to an organization’s purpose is key to productivity and great culture, and
  3. A commitment to building strong, trust-based relationships with employees at all levels is an absolute necessity.


Are you ready to learn more from top leaders at the Best Companies to Work For? Register for the 2016 Great Place to Work® Annual Conference in San Diego, CA here by Dec. 4 to save $200 off full conference rates.