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Best Workplaces offer superior employee experience regardless of industry

September 7, 2022, 11:00 AM UTC
Wegmans Food Markets is No. 1 on the Fortune Best Workplaces in Retail™ list in the large business category.
Courtesy of Great Place to Work

It’s easy to blame our workplace woes on the industry we work in with a resigned shrug:

“Work-life balance is nearly impossible in health care.”

“There’s nothing positive about working in retail.”
“Special meaning in construction? Think again.”

But we’re pointing the finger in the wrong direction. It’s the company we work for, not the industry we work in that creates our experience—for better or worse. The Fortune Best Workplaces™ across 11 industries prove that challenges assumed to be inherent to certain industries can be overcome. Employees in winning companies report significantly higher levels of workplace experience across all measures, including well-being, meaning, and compensation than workers in a typical U.S. workplace, according to a Great Place to Work® survey of nearly 4,200 U.S. employees.

For instance, workers in winning health care companies report nearly identical levels of meaning as those who work in winning tech companies at 90% and 86%, respectively. Those levels drop to 62% in tech and 59% in health care at typical workplaces.

“Great leaders understand that the responsibility to inspire and engage their people is on them—and only them,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work, the global authority on company culture. “I know it’s easy to blame the industry and not your company, but try not to. We can do better for our people, and there’s nothing preventing any company from doing just that.” 

Great Place to Work determined the 2022 industry lists by analyzing data from nearly 1 million employees from qualifying companies in Manufacturing & Production; Health Care; Consulting & Professional Services; Financial Services & Insurance; Advertising & Marketing; Retail; Aging Services; Real Estate; Construction; BioPharma; and Technology.

Courtesy of Great Place to Work

Opportunities abound 

The sluggish economy hasn’t slowed the pace of the employee exodus. According to a recent McKinsey report, the U.S. quit rate remains 25% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Globally, 35% of workers who quit jobs in the last two years stayed in the same industry.

That opens the door for employers to recruit workers outside of their own industry. And there are no organizations better suited to benefit than the Best Workplaces, all of whom offer what workers are looking for today: purposeful work. It’s what young workers want and what retains workers at the best workplaces nationwide.

Meaningful work—the belief that one’s work is “not just a job”—is a key driver of retention among employees in all 11 industries. It at least doubles employees’ intent to stay at the Best Workplaces in every industry.

Not only does that increase retention rates, but it positions these workplaces to become employers-of-choice for job seekers.

Take retail, an industry whose workers quit at record levels during the pandemic and where meaningful work at a typical U.S. workplace is lower than any other industry at only 38%. That more than doubles to 79% for employees at the Best Workplaces in Retail.

Wegmans Food Markets, the No. 1 Best Workplace in Retail among large companies, has an internal job posting program to ensure transparency and equitable access to promotions. It also uses flex scheduling that allows employees to change availability anytime and manage shift changes to an already-posted schedule.

The average technology company will offer one of the most positive workplaces compared with typical workplaces in other industries—scoring a high 72%. But a Best Workplace in Construction offers a better overall experience than the average tech workplace, scoring an even higher 94%.

“That might surprise some, but it shouldn’t,” Bush says. “Again, it’s the workplace that drives the experience, not the company, and these numbers prove this to be true. Great companies can outcompete any industry.”

David Weekley Homes, the No.1 Best Workplace in Construction among large companies, prioritizes employees’ ambition, hard work and dedication overbackground, education and experience when it comes to career paths. Employees are encouraged to pursue any job they’re interested in without worrying about affecting their current position if they don’t get the job. 

Another industry where working for a great company makes all the difference is health care. Although typical health care workplaces offer above average levels of meaningful work, they rank last when it comes to fair pay and promotions at 42% and 41%, respectively.

Those numbers nearly double for employees from the Best Workplaces in Health Care who enjoy both special meaning as well as fair pay and promotionsat 78% and 81%, respectively.

These Best Workplaces not only outperform their industry peers, but they experience nearly twice the discretionary effort. Their employees are willing to give extra to get the job done—something that will be invaluable as we continue to head into an economic downturn.

“What these workplaces fundamentally get is that treating employees well is good business,” Bush says. “If you want your people to work hard for you when times are tough, ask yourself what you did for them when business was good. That consistency matters. Show up for them—all workers, every day—and they’ll do the same for you.”

Roula Amire is Content Director at Great Place to Work®.

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