San Francisco — Jan. 17
The best American workplaces today are more flexible, more supportive of employees raising families and more fun than the workplace of 10 years ago, according to Great Place to Work Institute, an international research and consulting firm that partners with Fortune magazine annually to produce its “100 Best Companies to Work For” list.
“While many commentators long for the workplace of old — with fully paid health care, generous pensions and lifetime job security — we see that for many lucky employees, the workplace has never been better,” said Robert Levering, co-founder of Great Place to Work Institute and co-author of Fortune's list with Milton Moskowitz.
Other key changes among the best companies include increased racial and gender diversity, improved internal communications and increased use of employee stock ownership programs.
The most dramatic policy changes over the last decade among companies on Fortune's “100 Best Companies to Work For” list concern improved work-family benefits:
- 72 offer job sharing programs today, compared with only 18 a decade ago.
- 79 now offer compressed work weeks on a year-round, regular basis, compared with 25 companies 10 years ago.
- 82 provide telecommuting opportunities today, compared with only 18 in 1998.
Cisco has the highest percentage of telecommuters this year with 90 percent of its workforce telecommuting or working from home. At five other companies on the 2007 list, 50 percent or more of the workforce telecommutes, as compared with only one company 10 years ago.
One of the least-common benefits in corporate America a decade ago was the inclusion of domestic partners and same-sex couples in benefit plan coverage. Even then, 28 of the best companies offered domestic partner insurance. Today 70 do.
These improvements also are reflected in the results of the Institute's Trust Index survey. For the 2007 FORTUNE list, 105,000 randomly selected employees at 446 companies were surveyed in the largest simultaneous employee survey in corporate America. Results for all 57 Trust Index survey questions have increased among the best companies between 1998 and 2007.
Eighty percent of employees at Fortune's “100 Best Companies to Work For” now feel that management encourages them to balance their work lives and their personal lives — an increase of 11 percentage points from 10 years ago. Eighty-four percent think their employers offer special and unique benefits today — an increase of six percentage points.
Other notable increases include an eight-point increase in employees' perceptions of management's competence and a 15-point increase in employees' perceptions of opportunities to receive special recognition.
“These improvements are a direct result of global competition,” Levering said. “More companies now realize that they cannot compete successfully unless they attract and hold onto the most qualified workers. Today’s employees simply won’t put up with a lousy workplace environment. And women workers, in particular, are demanding a more family-friendly milieu. So, we expect that the workplace will continue to improve as the competition for qualified workers should intensify over the next decade.”
One thing hasn’t changed: The best companies still outperform their peers. According to Russell Investment Group analysis, a portfolio of publicly traded “100 Best” stocks, started in 1998 and reinvested annually to reflect changes in the list, would yield a 14.6 percent return today, nearly triple the return of the S&P 500 (5.96 percent).