Category Archives: 100 Best Companies to Work For

Why Diverse Organizations Perform Better: Do We Still Need Evidence?

You’ve probably heard that organizations with a focus on diversity have stronger organizational cultures – they have happier and more productive employees, and are more socially ethical than other organizations. You might have also heard that organizations with a focus on diversity perform better financially than organizations that do not invest energy in diversity programs, or in fostering a diverse workplace. Why, exactly, is this the case though? McKinsey & Company’s 2014 report, “Why Diversity Matters” answers just this, looking at the reasons why organizations with a focus on diversity simply do better, financially and otherwise, shining some data driven light on, well, why diversity matters.

McKinsey’s report examines the relationship between the level of diversity (defined as a greater share of women and a more mixed ethnic/racial composition in the leadership of large companies) and company financial performance (measured as average EBIT 2010–2013). Their research is based on leadership demographics and financial data from hundreds of organizations and thousands of executives in the United Kingdom, Canada, Latin America, and the U.S, allowing for “…results that are statistically significant and…. the first [analysis] that we are aware of that measures how much the relationship between diversity and performance is worth in terms of increased profitability.” Analysis of the data collected from 366 companies disclosed a statistically significant connection between diversity and financial performance, with organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity 15% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median and organizations in the top quartile for racial/ethnic diversity 30% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median. This pattern also held true in reverse, with organizations in the bottom quartile for gender or racial/ethnic diversity more likely to fall below the performance of the top-quartile companies and organizations in the bottom quartile for both gender and ethnicity underperforming (not just “not performing” but lagging) in comparison with the other three quartiles.

Feb 17 2015 Poor Diversity Poor Performance

McKinsey’s research also noted a positive relationship between financial performance and diversity in leadership, although this varied by country, industry, and type of diversity (gender or ethnicity). The U.S, for example shows no statistically significant correlation between gender diversity and performance until women make up at least 22% of a senior executive team. Even once that point is reached, the relationship observed for US companies is still of relatively low impact: for every 10% increase in gender diversity there is an increase of 0.3% in EBIT margin. The UK boasts a much more significant relationship between gender diversity and performance, experiencing ten times the impact for their focus on gender diversity than U.S organizations (even after they’ve reached the 22% tipping point). The correlated benefit is an increase of 3.5% in EBIT for every 10% increase in gender diversity in the senior executive team (and 1.4% for the board). It is also interesting to note that while U.S. companies have made efforts in recent years to up the number of women in executive positions (progress is limited but measurable), the data show that less attention has been given to the attainment of racial and ethnic diversity.

Feb 17 2015 Women in Executive Roles

Above-median financial performance was achieved by a higher percentage of companies in the top quartile than the bottom quartile for ethnic diversity in all the countries and regions McKinsey investigated. The message that diverse organizations perform better is clear, but as we asked earlier, why? McKinsey & Company offers the following supported hypotheses that diversity helps to:

  •  Win the war for talent
  • Strengthen customer orientation
  • Increase employee satisfaction
  • Improve decision making
  • Enhance an organization’s image

In the war for talent, diversity increases not only an organization’s sourcing pool but attracts talent that has shown to place significant value on diversity (such as Millenials). Additionally, because groups targeted by diversity efforts are usually underrepresented, they are often great sources of desirable talent. McKinsey & Company’s report cites a recent study that found, on average, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) recruits tend to be more highly skilled and more likely to have advanced degrees. By focusing on diversity, organizations align themselves with an increasingly heterogeneous customer base, enabling stronger bonds with customers. Workplace diversity increases employee satisfaction and fosters positive attitudes and behaviors and creates better decision making through combining diverse groups of thinkers. These organizational aspects that diversity bolsters ultimately make up the foundation for organizations that perform better financially.

As the workforce becomes increasingly global, diversity is only going to increase in importance. Regulators in some European countries have already introduced diversity targets for boards, such as those set out in the UK Equality Act 2010. Despite the importance of diversity, many companies’ approaches are still very one-dimensional, opting for just a single diversity program to cover all aspects of diversity: racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation. This may be why, on a large scale, companies often make progress in only one area of diversity.

Feb 17 2015 Gender and Ethnic Diversity Performance

McKinsey & Company’s research suggests that this one-dimensional approach to diversity results in a focus on a particular category rather than the opportunity as a whole. They advise that organizations should instead adopt tailored programs and make more targeted efforts within specific areas of diversity, believing that these will be necessary to make measurable progress and ensure relevance to business goals.

It does seem odd that we’re still making a statistical case for what everyone knows to be true:  diverse thought, experience, outlooks and cultures make for stronger solutions, more rapid innovation, more engaged employees and customers, and better all around performance. I guess more evidence doesn’t hurt.

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Filed under 100 Best Companies to Work For, Business Case, China Gorman, Company Culture, Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, Data Point Tuesday, Diversity, EBIT, Great Place to Work Institute, McKinsey, War for Talent

CEO Insights: The Bumpy Road to ALWAYS ON

data point tuesday_500

PWC’s 17th annual global CEO report “Good to Grow: 2014 US CEO Survey”, provides a thorough snapshot of executive leadership perspectives and approaches at the current moment. PWC’s report includes perspectives from over 1,300 CEOs from 68 countries, including 162 CEOs with US-headquartered organizations. It’s clear from the responses that, globally, CEOs are making many changes within their organizations. For example, 86% of CEOs stated that advancing technologies are going to transform their businesses over the next five years. Positively, PWC’s data also suggests that CEOs are finding reasons to be more confident in many places (89% of US CEOs are fairly sure their companies will deliver revenue growth this year). In this period of rapid change though, what approaches are CEOs taking, and what insights can they offer?

The majority of CEO’s interviewed reported that “five great forces of transformation” are reshaping business as we know it:

  • Technology is making an impact across the whole enterprise.
  • CEOs are reinventing the operating model towards an “always on customer experience.”
  • CEOs are seeking new ways to work together in joint ventures and alliances to capture disruptive technologies faster.
  • In some cases, the business model is being innovated.
  • There are rising concerns about talent.

As organizations undeniably shift into a period of growth (62% expect to hire more people this year, the highest level of anticipated headcount expansion in the past five years for this survey), how do these five great forces of transformation come into play?

All CEOs seem to agree, that technology is what propels business, and will continue to do so. PWC states that, in part, “Technology” is a watchword for 2014 because CEOs use it when talking about both core innovation and information technology (IT). Technology has become an essential part of strategy in all areas – for organizations pursuing new business models, meeting new customer expectations, remaking their operating model, forging new alliances, or tackling talent challenges.

pwc-Technology

 

CEOs are reshaping business models though innovation. They are taking cues from the technology industry that has paved the way by creating value for customers in a multitude of new ways. Organizations are looking to create increased profit for what they offer beyond step-by-step product innovation, and they are stepping out of the box to innovate in ways such as turning a product into a service, or vice versa. New approaches to innovation and R&D are part of an increased strategy by many US CEOs in 2014. For example, some organizations report funding innovation incubators to foster rapid prototyping of new ideas, while others report wanting to join up with emerging market innovators who are developing low-cost products.

PWC’s survey also indicates that customer strategies will get a serious makeover in 2014, with 52% of CEOs reporting that they are planning to change their customer growth and retention strategies. As creating a positive and personal customer experience only continues to increase in value (and as a standard of expectation) more organizations will see CEOs leading them toward a strategy of customer interaction. This will move away from stand-alone transactions to a sustainable “always on” relationship with customers. While CEOs plan out such new strategies, they are also discovering that most current capabilities are “fair game for reinvention.” The vast majority of CEOs are already debuting a fair number of change initiatives with a focus on moving away from rigid structures towards more nimble, adaptable operations.

pwc-reinventing-operations

Business alliances and joint ventures also appear as a CEO noted trend for 2014 – within the U.S. and globally. 42% of CEOs surveyed report that they plan to enter a business alliance/joint venture this year while only 4% expect they’ll exit an existing relationship. CEOs are also looking at acquisitions, with 39% of US CEOs planning to complete a domestic acquisition in 2014 and 28% planning on a cross-border deal.

A last trend to note from this survey is in regards to talent. I’ve talked about the talent acquisition “crisis” or “war on talent” in past posts, and unfortunately, PWC’s CEO survey does nothing to dispel this issue. 70% of US business leaders report being concerned about the availability of key skills. This compares to 54% that said so in 2013.

pwc-skill gaps

Despite continued economic uncertainty both within the U.S and globally, PWC reports that the number of US CEOs who believe that global growth is returning has more than doubled since last year, perhaps indicating that organizations are successfully finding a path forward. It is also clear from the research though, that this is a time of intense transformation, which encompasses a wide range of organizational areas and strategies. The ability to navigate such transformational trends is vital for organizational success. So while the overall sentiment is positive for growth, the ride to get there is going to bumpy. Are you and your teams ready to be “always on?”

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Filed under 100 Best Companies to Work For, Business Success, China Gorman, Connecting Dots, Data Point Tuesday, Engagement, HR, HR Data, Information Technology, Talent pipeline

The 2020 Workforce: Misconceptions Between Management and Employees

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Oxford Economics and SAP recently released the report “Workforce 2020: The Looming Talent Crisis” aimed at understanding the opportunities and challenges of the evolving workforce. The research is based on survey responses from over 2,700 executives and more than 2,700 employees in 27 countries. Understanding the core characteristics of “the new face of work,” as SAP puts it, is an important step in recognizing the opportunities and challenges that will come with it. SAP and Oxford Economics’ research identifies several key characteristics of the 2020 workforce, including that it will be an increasingly flexible one. Of executives surveyed, 83% cited that they plan to increase use of contingent, intermittent, or consultant employees in the next three years and 58% say that this requires changing HR policy. In addition to being flexible, the 2020 workforce will be increasingly diverse, and SAP advises that because of this HR leaders will need to become more evidence-based to deal with these realities. As of now, only 50% of HR departments state that they use quantifiable metrics and benchmarking in workforce development and only 47% say they know how to extract meaningful insights from the data available to them. This is likely part of what influences the reported lack of progress towards meeting workforce goals that many executives cite. Just 33% stated that they have made “good” or “significant” progress towards workforce goals.

SAP identifies technology as a key need for the evolving workforce that organizations are unprepared for. While this may seem obvious, in the U.S. just 39% of employees report getting ample training on workplace technology and only 27% report access to the latest technology. While it’s understandable that not all organizations can offer the most cutting edge technologies, a lack of sufficient training for the technologies that are in place could be seriously affecting employee productivity. Aside from technology, misconceptions about Millennials are another trend of the evolving workforce that SAP points out (and with the expectation that this generation will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2020, any misconceptions are noteworthy). The research points out that while Millennials are different than other generations, they may not be as different as they are typically portrayed. According to executives surveyed, 60% believe Millennials are frustrated with manager quality but only 18% of Millennials say that they actually are. Additionally, 62% of executives report that Millennials will consider leaving their job due to a lack of learning and development, but just 31% of Millennials say they have considered this.

millenial-misconception

In terms of the emerging workforce, there may also be gaps between what companies believe employees want from them and what employees actually want.

what-employees-say
Perhaps not surprisingly, the most important incentive to U.S employees is competitive compensation (84%) followed by retirement plans (75%), and vacation time (62%). 39% of employees say higher compensation would increase loyalty and engagement with their current job. When it comes to attributes that employees think are most important to their employer, job performance and results is number one (46%), followed by the ability to learn and be trained quickly (29%), and loyalty and long-term commitment to the company (28%). This differs however, from what employers deem most important. The top three attributes executives want in employees are a high level of education and/or institutional training (33%), loyalty and long-term commitment 32%), and the ability to learn and be trained quickly (31%).

What executives and employees do agree on is that organizations are not focused enough on developing future leaders. Only 51% of U.S. executives say their company plans for succession and continuity in key roles and 47% say their plans for growth are being hampered by lack of access to the right leaders. Employees agree that leadership is a problem area, with just 51% of employees stating that leadership at their company is equipped to lead the company to success. Better learning and education opportunities will be key to bridging this talent gap. The need for technology skills in particular will increase in demand (e.g. cloud and analytics), although SAP’s data states that just 33% of employees expect to be proficient in cloud in three years. This statistic is slightly better when it comes to analytics, with 43% expecting proficiency in three years and almost 50% expecting proficiency in mobile, social media, and social collaboration. In terms of training programs, only about half (51%) of American executives say their company widely offers supplemental training programs to develop new skills. This aligns with employees’ perceptions toward training, with 51% reporting that their company provides the right tools to help them grow and improve job performance. Additionally, about half (52%) of employees say their company encourages continuing education and training to further career development.

Take a look at the graphic below that highlights the five major labor market shifts discussed. Are you beginning to think about shifting workforce development strategies for the future? Are you really sure what your employees think? Or are you making assumptions based on popular press reports that may not be founded on fact?

labor-market-shifts

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Filed under #HRTechTrends, 100 Best Companies to Work For, Leadership Aspiration, Leadership Challenges, Learning/Development, Millennials, Recruiting, Recruiting Technology, SAP

It’s all About: Trust, Honesty, and Transparency

Data Point TuesdayCompany cultures, the good, the bad, and – well in the interest of being nice we’ll leave it at that – have been the focus at Great Place to Work® for the last 25 years, since Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz researched their book The 100 Best Workplaces in America. What their research revealed is that the key to creating a great workplace revolves not around the building of a certain set of benefits and practices, but through the building of high-quality relationships in the workplace, relationships characterized by trust, pride, and camaraderie. What we call a great company culture. As Erin Osterhaus, researcher for HR technology reviewer Software Advice, points out in her blog about a recent survey, the term “company culture” has seen an astronomical rise in use since 1980, due in part to publications like The 100 Best Workplaces in America, as well as companies’ recognition that culture has a direct impact on how happy, and healthy employees are– and, how well they perform. With the rise in attention to the topic of company culture, enter the adoption of roles created specifically to focus on company culture. As Osterhaus points out, Google, #1 on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For List for the last three years, was one of the first companies to adopt such a position (Chief Culture Officer) in 2006.

company culture over timeConsidering all the research and data that surround the term “company culture” today, Software Advice surveyed 886 U.S. adults to learn how they define company culture, and to better understand what culture means to the group it impacts the most: employees and job seekers. What did they discover? Most survey takers described “company culture” as a value, belief, or habit of employees that worked at an organization, or the overall feeling of the environment at that company. The majority of respondents listed their ideal company culture as “casual or relaxed” followed by “family oriented,” “fun,” “friendly,” and “honest and transparent.” However, when asked which of these five attributes would most likely convince them to apply at company, respondents stated that “honesty and transparency” would be the biggest influencer.

So while “casual/relaxed” and “fun” ranked over honesty as the most common definition of an ideal company culture, the fact that “honesty and transparency” are the bigger influencers on whether a prospective candidate actually applies at a company highlights what we’ve known about company cultures all along… that trust and values matter most.

ideal company cultureSoftware Advice’s data prove once again that it is fostering trust and building honesty and transparency that ultimately create a sense of camaraderie amongst employees and the fun, family feel environments that respondents report as their “ideal company culture.” As Leslie Caccamese and Katie Popp state in Great Place to Work’s recent whitepaper, Five Lessons for Leaders as they Build a Great Workplace, “What people often think makes a great workplace isn’t actually what makes it so.” While great amenities like workout facilities, foosball tables, and 4 star catered meals may initially come to mind when people think “great company culture,” it’s ultimately evidence of trust-based interactions between leaders and their employees that Great Place to Work looks for when evaluating companies for our Best Companies to Work For lists in nearly 50 countries around the world.

I’ll leave you with another quote from our recent whitepaper: “…by all means, install slides and fi­reman poles; scatter about lava lamps and bean bag chairs. Bring in the manicurist and the barista, and cater to people’s pets. Just make sure these things aren’t happening in lieu of deeper, more substantial practices like involving employees in workplace decisions, keeping them informed of important issues, tending to their ongoing professional development, and sharing profi­ts fairly. These types of practices will go much further in helping employees feel that theirs is a great workplace.”

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Filed under 100 Best Companies to Work For, Business Success, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, Great Rated!, Relationships, Trust

Streaming Live: 2014 Great Place to Work Conference®!

Data Point Tuesday

I’m going to deviate from my normal Data Point Tuesday this week to offer you an invitation to attend the streaming keynote sessions from our 2014 conference. The 2014 Great Place to Work® Annual Conference kicks off this Thursday in New Orleans, and we’re very excited to share some of the great learning opportunities of the conference virtually! This year’s conference has sold out with 1,150 registered attendees from more than 400 companies. 39 out of our 45 keynote speakers and concurrent session leaders are business leaders (20) and senior HR practitioners (19). This is the only national event that teaches, inspires and connects professionals across industries and functions to strengthen workplace culture through building trust.

We’re thrilled to bring a packed agenda with a wealth of engaging speakers to those attending in New Orleans this year. If you’re not attending however, don’t worry! We will have free live streaming of our conference keynote sessions here this Thursday and Friday (April 3rd and 4th). Our keynote speakers this year include Bill Emerson, CEO of Quicken Loans, Terri Kelly, President and CEO at W.L. Gore & Associates, Victoria B. Mars, Member, Board of Directors at Mars, Inc., Blake Nordstrom, President at Nordstrom Inc., and Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. We’re very excited to allow all of you to join us virtually and we hope you’ll take advantage of a great opportunity to take away actionable ideas and learn about best practices from experts at companies recognized for building trust, pride and camaraderie in the workplace! See you there!

Watch the 2014 Great Place to Work® Conference Keynotes Live Here

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Job Seekers: Look to Best Companies!

data point tuesday
I discussed a few posts ago how companies on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list are experiencing huge amounts of growth in headcount. That post focused on how these outstanding workplaces are combating growing pains and dealing with rapid expansion. Being ranked one of the best workplace cultures in the US certainly helps feed the cycle of growth, as job seekers apply in droves.

The good news for job seekers? The Best companies are hiring and they are hiring a lot! FORTUNE reports that at least 24 companies on this year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list are planning to fill at least 1,000 (and for some, even more!) jobs in the coming year. From big tech companies like Google (ranked #1), Intel, and Cisco, to medical organizations like Houston Methodist, retail stores like Nordstrom, and markets like Whole Foods and Wegmans, the “we’re hiring” sign is posted out front.

What are these companies looking for in a new hire, and who is getting hired? At Great Place to Work, the research and analysis firm that produces the lists, we’ve pulled together some hiring statistics from this year’s Best Companies to provide a little perspective.  The 100 Best Companies last year filled 6,297 positions, on average, for both new and already existing positions. The average number of these positions filled internally was nearly 30%. The average number of new hires referred by current employees was 28%. This corroborates what we already assume, that internal referrals add significant weight to applications, so before all else, reach out to potential contacts! There can be big benefits for the person referring you as well, so don’t automatically assume people might view it as a hassle. The average maximum bonus paid for a single referral at best companies in the last 12 months was $3,595!

How to impress in an interview? According to recruiters from best companies that are hiring (via FORTUNE), top ways to impress include: being able to articulate your alignment with the company’s mission and values (and explain why they resonate with you), doing exceptional “homework” and truly understanding the business and key competitors going into an interview, being able to discuss how you plan to impact the company, and demonstrating passion, curiosity, and (a big one!) innovation.

For new college grads the numbers may seem a bit less optimistic, out of the average new hires in the last year (6,297) the average number of new graduates hired was 496, and the average percent of positions filled by college students at this year’s best companies is 9.9%. However, this shouldn’t discourage new graduates from applying, as they are automatically equipped with several highly valued skills beyond a basic degree. Examples I’ve touched on in previous blogs include that college students and Millennials are more likely to be passionate about social responsibility and attuned with an organization’s mission and values, be highly aware of technology and social media and able to quickly assimilate with a company’s use of such tools. No matter who you are, however, if you are looking to find a new job consider these stats, and check out this year’s FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list– you may be very glad you did.

Best Companies Hiring

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Filed under 100 Best Companies to Work For, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, FORTUNE Magazine, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, Hiring, Millennials

Rapid Growth and Great Workplaces

Data Point Tuesday
The 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list announcement is just days away and here at Great Place to Work we just can’t wait to share some of the awesome 100 Best Companies Trends from this year’s list! In true Data Point Tuesday fashion, I’ve compiled some noteworthy stats from our 2014 100 Best Companies Trends whitepaper to share with you, (the full trends report as well the Fortune 100 Best Companies list will be available here on Thursday) enjoy the sneak peek!

One of the most prominent trends we’ve seen with Best Companies this year is growth. For 2014 100 Best Companies with available revenue data, revenues in the last 24 months have risen an average of 22.2% and headcount is increasing to match that. The number of employees at the 2014 100 Best Companies increased by an average of 6.1% since 2012 and 15.4% since 2011 which, according to Current Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is nearly five times the growth rate of U.S. companies overall in the same two-year period. This significant increase in headcount, while positive for companies, undoubtedly also raises concerns. During times of rapid growth organizations can experience a number of challenges including: inadequate skills and pipeline of leaders, loss of top talent and leaders, scaling and developing new systems, assimilating new employees both socially and process-wise, bringing new and longer tenure employees together, balancing cultural norms of past with the need to grow quickly and be a company of the future, and burn out and disaffection of existing employees. With such challenges in mind, how are these Best Companies managing such rapid growth, and, what exactly are they doing to avoid growing pains?

In 2013 Great Place to Work compiled a benchmark group of great workplaces experiencing high growth (+20% employee population) while appearing on the Best Companies list between 2011-2013. The group was used to study the relationship between rapid growth and the employee experience at the 100 Best and included several Best Companies, such as Chesapeake Energy, Hilcorp Energy Company, NetApp, Quicken Loans, Rackspace Hosting, salesforce.com, and World Wide Technology, Inc. Results of the study indicated an exceptionally high level of trust at Best Companies experiencing rapid growth, with 94% of employees at such companies stating that “taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work” vs. 91% of employees at Best Companies not experiencing such rapid growth. Additionally, employees at high growth Best Companies displayed a 4% higher average score on all trust index statements compared with employees at Best Companies not experiencing rapid growth. Trust index scores correspond to statements such as: “management is approachable, easy to talk with”, “this is a fun place to work”, “I feel I receive a fair share of the profits made at this organization”, and “people look forward to coming to work here”. It’s noteworthy too that these high trust index scores at Best Companies experiencing rapid growth come from both new hires as well as tenured employees (2+ years tenure).

Great Place to Work Chart
We can take away from this data a better understanding of how Best Companies are handling the growth trend. Marcus Erb, Associate Vice President of Research, and the leader of the 2013 study on the relationship between high growth and the employee experience at the 100 Best sums it up well: “Our research shows that as far as the employee experience is concerned, companies with a strong foundation of trust, a robust leadership pipeline, and a firm commitment to the company’s culture are far better at navigating the challenges that come along with growth and change.”

Make sure to check out the 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies list on January 16th

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