Purpose triples retention at the Best Workplaces in Chicago, Texas, New York, and the Bay Area

June 15, 2022, 11:00 AM UTC
Photo of three women working in an office together
Top companies reap strong productivity, retention, and recruitment benefits by prioritizing meaning, equality, and support.
Courtesy of Great Place to Work

Healthy rivalries between U.S. regions are as old as time. Which coast has the nicest people? The best quality of life?

Depends on who you ask.

But the debate around which region has the best places to work can be settled. The results are in and they’re definitive: All regions.

This year’s analysis of the Best Workplaces in Chicago, Texas, New York, and the Bay Area revealed that great workplaces are great no matter where they’re located.

It’s not about where you work, it’s about who you work for and what they offer.

“Great companies are great regardless of where they are,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work®. “Stop asking about the ‘where’ and start looking at the ‘what.’ What these winning companies are doing has nothing to do with where they’re located and everything to do with their values and how they support their people. They offer them meaning, purpose, pride, and fairness. Zip code isn’t the differentiator, cultures are.”

Great Place to Work determined the Best Workplaces in Chicago, Texas, New York, and the Bay Area using over 1 million employee survey responses and data from companies that predict the experiences of more than 6.1 million employees.

These 330 winning companies of all sizes (small, medium, and large) outperform the average U.S. workplace across productivity, retention, and recruitment measures. Employees from winning workplaces are more than twice as likely to give extra to get the job done and nearly twice as likely to recommend their workplace to friends and family. Not surprisingly, they’re almost half as likely to leave their company as their peers.

They also feel cared for. Employees at winning companies are twice as likely to look forward to coming to work and nearly 90% describe their organization as psychologically and emotionally healthy compared with 53% at an average workplace.

Top retention drivers

Regional winners have created cultures that elicit great business results and supportive environments. But what, exactly, drives the loyalty that every CEO craves?

Topping the list: purpose.

“No one should be surprised by this,” Bush says. “‘Purpose’ might be the word of 2022. What do employees want? That. It’s on every leader to make sure every worker, regardless of role and location, understands how what they do affects your organization’s greater purpose. They need to know their work has meaning and matters—that they matter. You better make that crystal clear if you want to earn their trust and keep them on board, and these great workplaces get it and do it.”

Across all regions, if employees at winning companies feel their work has special meaning and is more than “just a job,” their intent to stay triples.

Three additional indicators that drive retention across all regions are whether or not employees are willing to endorse their company, feel proud of their organization, and say their company is a great workplace. The fifth aspect of the employee experience that drives retention varies between regions. Depending on the region, employers will double the odds their employees will stay if their employees:

–Feel they make a difference (Bay Area)
–Say it’s a fun place to work (Chicago & New York)
–Are treated like a full member of the organization, regardless of role (Texas)

Regional strengths and improvements 

The events of 2021 posed a litany of challenges and shifted priorities. Here’s a breakdown of the biggest areas of improvement over the past year by region.

Texas-based workplaces prioritize fairness at work.

Winning companies in the Lone Star state prioritized inclusiveness and homed in on fairness and equality. They create a level playing field by avoiding favoritism, promoting the most deserving employees, and avoiding politicking and backstabbing. Those are all areas of the employee experience that assess the impartiality of a workplace—something that is hard to get right even at the best companies.

Employee experiences of impartiality hold true across gender, race/ethnicity, and employee role across company size.

Chicago leaders improved in competence.

Winning workplaces in Chicago saw the biggest improvement in leadership competence. They improved the most by involving employees in decisions that affect them, managing work well, and ensuring promotions go to those who deserve them.

The result: Employees who felt promotions were fair are 25% more likely to plan to stay with their organization. And those who believed management does a good job coordinating people are 40% more likely to recommend their employer to others.

New York-based workplaces got more innovative.

Celebrating innovation, increasing cooperation, and giving discretionary effort (giving extra to get the job done) saw gains among winning New York workplaces.

Employees who said their company celebrated new and better ways of doing things are nearly 25% more likely to recommend their workplace to others.

Bay Area employees got support.

Responsibility increased for Bay Area employees, and while it is a compliment to be trusted, employees must be supported and cared for as their responsibility grows at work. Winning workplaces take care of their people.

Wellness measures at Bay Area winning workplaces are significantly higher than at an average workplace. Nine out of 10 Bay Area employees feel their workplace is psychologically and emotionally healthy compared with 53% at an average company. They’re also 70% better than an average workplace when it comes to work/life balance.

While one region isn’t better than another, each region’s winners offer vastly better workplaces than a typical employer by creating meaningful, purpose-led cultures where employees are seen, heard, and valued.

Great Place to Work logo 2018

Roula Amire is the content director at Great Place to Work.

This year’s analysis of the Best Workplaces in Chicago, Texas, New York, and the Bay Area revealed that great workplaces are great no matter where they’re located.

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