America’s 100 Most Loved Workplaces 2022
It will not surprise anyone who is at least partially awake that, nearly three years after COVID-19 hit our shores, the workplace is an unpredictable place. As Newsweek’s 2022 list of Most Loved Companies shows, in this environment, against the backdrop of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting, the companies that employees are most passionate about are those that have been willing to change with the times and actively work to meet the evolving needs of the people who work for them.
What’s critical? For one thing, recognition that the hybrid workplace seems to have become a permanent fixture—even after multiple booster shots and companies like Goldman Sachs demanding that their well-paid Wall Streeters return to cubicle-world. Worker resistance to mandates to return to the office is a big deal, too. For example: Apple employees are battling to keep their hybrid or work-at-home arrangements going. According to NBC News, “employees have launched a petition against Apple’s return-to-office plans.”
In other words, people got the power and it’s not certain they’ll ever give it up again—and the best employers recognize that and act accordingly.
Of course, a worldwide economic downturn—thanks, Vladimir Putin and Jerome Powell—might change the rules of engagement with employers. But for now, there’s no end in sight, precisely because of developments like the Great Resignation and the labor shortages that ensued. Many companies—more on that a little later—are either offering hybrid roles or are just letting employees work where they want to work. But there’s more.
Thanks partly to the labor shortage, companies are doing more to keep their employees happy. It’s not just free Doritos and the occasional Yankees or Dodgers tickets in the company luxury boxes. Career development may be the most important perk emerging in recent months.
“In the new age of quiet quitting, companies who are winning at the talent game provide and believe strongly in the benefits of career development to stay ahead,” says Louis Carter, CEO of the Best Practice Institute (BPI), Newsweek’s partner in the Most Loved Workplaces project.
That’s what we discovered in this year’s list. Our No. 1 company Dell, for example, has been a pioneer in both remote work and nurturing careers to a point where a majority of management promotions are from inside the family. (See the story that follows.) And many more that made this year’s list—from test-prepper Kaplan to Eaton, a power management firm—are doing much the same thing.
The 2022 List
As with last year’s inaugural list, this collection of small, medium and large companies was produced in partnership with the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based BPI. And, as we did a year ago, we go deep. We don’t just, for instance, count how many benefits employers provide—401(k) plans, medical benefits and all that. What we measure, which separates us, we believe, from those other “best of” lists, is how employees feel about their bosses.
We answer the big question: Do workers truly love and feel in sync with the company they work for?
“Emotional connection” often means success for a company no matter what its size, according to BPI’s Carter, who is also the author of the 2019 book In Great Company: How to Spark Peak Performance by Creating an Emotionally Connected Workplace (McGraw-Hill).
BPI research chief Scott Baxt, who over the years has scrutinized thousands of managers and employees, says the bottom line is this: Hired hands are as much as four times more likely to be more productive if they love the company they toil for. Also, to no one’s surprise, those same employees tend to stay on the job, cutting down on the turnover that bedevils many employers these days.
“The data is clearer than ever,” says Baxt. “Employees want to go home each day and know they contributed, whether in an entry-level position or senior management. The companies on this list highlight how they have given a voice to all employees and, in return, have been rewarded with increased productivity and performance.”
How did the companies make the list? More than 1.4 million employees were surveyed at businesses ranging in size from 50 employees to more than 10,000; some 450 companies were accepted to apply for certification as a “Most Loved Workplace” and nearly 300 made the cut. The top 100 among them were chosen based on a variety of factors that BPI’s research has revealed are most important to employee satisfaction. The criteria included, for example: Is collaboration and teamwork important? Are there opportunities for advancement? Is the company a good citizen or does it just pretend to be for public relations purposes? (See “Methodology” for more details.)
We’re happy to report that the firms on our list seem to follow their better angels. But like any business, large or small, some of our companies have slipped up in the past; There are, for example, employee lawsuits and even battles with regulators. How they overcame the pitfalls is what, in the end, mattered to us—changing practices to address problems and challenges is a critical indication of the strength of leadership and determination to do what’s right.
What Employees Really Want
So, what really changed in a year? If you looked closely at last year’s top 100, the COVID-induced hybrid workplace and other work-at-home policies dominated—and that mattered to employees a lot. Were employers being flexible enough? Did they gladly offer work-at-home options? Did remote workers feel like they were part of the team even if they opted to work from the kitchen table?
Those issues haven’t gone away, as the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) will tell you. “To attract and retain employees, employers must continue to offer flexible solutions that meet the needs of their workforce,” says Bhushan Sethi, PwC’s joint global leader, people and organization. “Data from (our 2022) Hopes and Fears survey shows that not only do employees expect flexible work options now (62 percent) but 63 percent expect their company to offer that kind of approach in the next year.” In addition, nearly half of Gen Z and millennial workers say they’d be willing to give up 10 percent or more of their future earnings, Sethi reports, in exchange for that flexibility. He adds: “Companies should experiment with their hybrid model and adapt to the changing needs of employees.”
While hybrid work is a given, though, there appears to be a bigger focus on career development this year—maybe because the hybrid model creates its own set of problems. PwC “found that more than two-thirds of full-time remote workers are concerned about missing out on development opportunities,” Sethi says.
Employees, in fact, cite career development as a big factor in remaining with the firms they work for. But even that has changed in certain ways—perhaps because of the tight marketplace. It is, in other words, a sign of the times. Employers used to have more control, Carter points out.
“In the past,” he explains, “career development was a fairly stringent path companies had the power to control.” Carter continues. “If you were identified as a high potential sales employee, employers mapped out a path for you.”
Now? “Employees can identify any area” at a company and “develop in an entirely different function,” Carter says. In other words: Employees have a bigger hand in their own fate. No more getting stuck in the sales track if that’s what they seem to be only good at.
“The key,” Carter says, “is allowing workers to take responsibility for where they would like their career to progress and the company preparing them for that path within the company.”
Secrets of Success
How does this work in practice? Let’s count the ways. For example, Fresenius Medical Care North America (No. 73) has an in-house Professional Development Academy, open to anyone who feels like they need to juice their career. (More than 22,000 employees have taken advantage.) Every year, in the first quarter, Kendra Scott (No. 83) employees have a chance to lay out their career goals in what’s called the “Alignment Day.”
Eaton (No. 72) has a program called a “Stretch Assignment Marketplace” where employees can show their creative chops. Launched in 2016, more than 800 employees completed 385 projects ranging from digitization to customer relationships. “Employees are encouraged,” the company says, “to choose projects they think will best use their talents and help build the skills they need in developing their career.”
SAP America (No. 2) has an in-house incubator for employees to launch new ventures. Dell, our No. 1, is well known for its Career Hub, where employees can build out their own development plans. According to one employee who has been with Dell a year or so: “My manager is invested in my professional growth and development and is actively making sure I stay focused on growing where I want.”
Perhaps no one is better at the career development game than Kaplan, the test-prep firm. The company (No. 39), for example, actively helps employees beef up their CVs at a month-long program called DevelopU. There, they come up with individual, self-directed development plans. Nearly 3,000 employees attended the program last year, which featured sessions ranging from strategic thinking to business essentials.
Other career-boosting programs at Kaplan include formal Individual Development Plans (IDP) that, among other things, identify a worker’s strengths and areas they want to improve. One employee IDP led to a “leadership tour” where he switched roles with a peer to learn how another department worked. The company’s Leadership Forums help mid-senior leaders create projects that will help them move up to higher positions within the company.
“I’ve worked in many of the different parts of the organization and I personally know the functions and moved up through the ranks,” says CEO Gregory Marino, who started at Kaplan as an intern almost 30 years ago. “It is what we do.”
Indeed, it’s what all of our companies on this year’s list do, from intense career development programs to creative hybrid work arrangements to diversity initiatives. So, wherever you work—at home, in the office or both—dig into this year’s list. No matter where you fall in the corporate hierarchy, you’ll find something useful, as will your bosses and their bosses.
Until the Fed and Jerome Powell strangle the economy into recession, employees still rule.
▸Most Loved Workplaces® is a registered trademark of the Best Practice Institute, Inc., of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
This content was originally published here.