A spot on Glassdoor’s annual Best Places to Work list is a tremendous achievement. After all, employees decide which companies make the list. So what, exactly, do the winners share in common that inspire such enthusiasm and pride?
To find out, we spoke to six Best Places to Work winners. Here’s what they had to say about building strong cultures, embracing transparency and what else makes them beloved by their employees.
Delta Air Lines:
Fun and a sense of family are at the core of Delta’s win of Glassdoor’s 10th annual Employees’ Choice Awards. As the #1 airline (17th overall), Delta employees have provided anonymous feedback by completing a company review about their job, work environment and employer over the past year.
It’s no surprise that air travel, although efficient and essential, can be stressful. The security lines, the crying children, perhaps even a kick or two on the back of your seat. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian gets it.
Glassdoor: What one piece of advice would you offer to other companies that want to be a Best Place to Work for employees? What is the secret of your success?
Ed Bastian: Put your people at the foundation of what you do. We call it the “virtuous circle” – when you take care of your employees, they will take great care of your customers, who then reward you with their business and loyalty. Every major business decision we make at Delta is based on that philosophy, and it has been very successful for us.
[Related: The Benefits Employees Want Most]
With an overall rating of 4.6, In-N-Out has now cracked the Best Places to Work list for four consecutive years – their fifth win overall. At the head of the cult-favorite burger chain is Lynsi Snyder, whose grandparents founded the company in 1948. We recently reached out to Snyder to learn more about why people love coming to work, her decision to never take the company public, and how her time spent leafing lettuce at an In-N-Out at 17 helped her prepare for her role today. Here are a few highlights from our conversation.
Glassdoor: Your employees love working here, as we see by the strong rating on Glassdoor – how do you make this a great place to work day in and day out?
Lynsi Snyder: We have a strong company culture that goes back almost 70 years, and an important part of that is having fun at work and being surrounded by great people. Day to day, the work environment has to be positive, and the Associates actually create that themselves by being so upbeat and enthusiastic. We select leaders who are strong in the area of engaging Associates in taking great care of our customers with great quality and service. They must also be able to create a team-oriented atmosphere, which is part of our mission statement. Other things like a favorable pay structure and flexible scheduling definitely help, but it really comes down to our Associates being part of something that they take a lot of pride in.
[Related: How to Conduct Better Interviews]
With a near perfect rating of 4.9, Silverline has become the #1 small business on the Best Places to Work list. At the helm of Silverline’s success is CEO Gireesh Sonnad, who has a 100% CEO approval rating on Glassdoor. We managed to catch up with Sonnad to discuss the win, learn more about Silverline’s culture and to find out “What’s your favorite interview question to ask Silverline job applicants?”
Glassdoor: Your employees love working here as we see the strong rating on Glassdoor – how do you make this a great place to work day in and day out?
Gireesh Sonnad: As an organization, we continually look for new ways to help our employees learn, enhance their lives, and further their careers. We implemented learning and development and career path initiatives, called Silverline Synapse and PowerUp!, which offer a variety of programs to foster professional and personal growth. These programs allow individuals to improve their technical and consulting skills, become subject matter experts, and share knowledge with their peers. We are enabling a world-class workforce through high-quality and timely learning opportunities.
Silverline has established a robust system to gain transparency into our employee’s goals at work and at home that everyone can be aware of. We have leveraged the Salesforce Platform to create a tool that allows our team to set individual and department goals, along with objectives for each, then measure and report on their results on a regular basis. However, not all goals are company centered; we encourage employees to also set personal goals to maintain their health and wellness. Goals can be collaborative and employees are encouraged to push themselves above general expectations.
We also have our philanthropic initiative, Silverline Cares, and we are a proud member of the Pledge 1% movement. The goal of this initiative is to create community engagement opportunities through donations of our time, product, and profit. We recognize that participating in these opportunities to give back will also enrich and inspire the lives of our employees while strengthening our communities. My hope is that every Silverliner feels that they have given back to the community through their involvement with Silverline.
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants:
To get an insider’s perspective on Kimpton and what working there is really like, we reached out to Ginny Too, Kimpton’s VP of People + Culture. Here’s what she had to say about being named a Best Place to Work, what she looks for in amazing applicants.
Glassdoor: Your employees love working here, as we see from the strong rating on Glassdoor. How do you make this a great place to work day in and day out?
Ginny Too: Every year, we interview several of our employees on what they love about our company. What came back were essentially three themes:
1) They can bring their true selves to work, quirks and all, and we fully embrace who they are.
2) They feel empowered to act and do the right things for our guests and each other.
3) They work in an environment that allows them to make each touchpoint meaningful. We call these “ridiculously personal experiences,” thus our mantra: “Be Yourself, Lead Yourself, Make it Count.”
Glassdoor: How have you improved employee engagement over the past year? What strategies have worked and which have not?
Ginny Too: We’ve always had strong, organic employee engagement, but we can’t take our foot off the pedal. Role modeling is the most powerful tool – our leaders learn our culture, live it and teach it by example and storytelling. Cultural cornerstone classes are taught by leadership, partnering with People + Culture, our human resources team. Transparent communication and taking a sincere interest in our employees’ perspectives are crucial to fueling employee engagement.
We also host open forums with an internal social network (Yammer) to Town Halls, roadshows, and leadership and culture workshops to keep that dialogue alive and well.
[Related: Employee Engagement Checklist and Calendar]
Glassdoor’s Emily Moore caught up with REI CEO and President, Jerry Stritzke, to talk about the outdoor company’s big win, their commitment to corporate social responsibility, and how taking risks has paid off in spades for the co-op. Here’s what he had to say.
Glassdoor: One thing that’s unique about REI is all of the perks you offer your staff – profit-sharing, retirement plans, Yay Days, the #OptOutside movement… that’s pretty rare for a retail company. How did you decide to develop perks like that?
Jerry Stritzke: A lot of it was born out of focusing on what our shared values are and what’s most important to us. [With Yay Days in particular], the idea was that we wanted our employees to go out and spend that perfect day on the ski slope or at the beach with pay so they don’t have to worry about missing work.
Glassdoor: Beyond Yay Days, how do you make REI a great place to work on a day-to-day basis?
Jerry Stritzke: We like to think of the retail staff as “inspired guides.” We expect them to love what they do, know about the gear, be passionate about it. And then when people come into the store, find out what they’re interested in and help them be successful at that. That idea of sharing and helping people live a life outside is really compelling.
For the second year in a row now, SpaceX has been honored as a Best Place to Work in Glassdoor’s annual Employees’ Choice Awards. And with a rating of 4.3 out of 5 and hundreds of glowing reviews, it’s not hard to see why. Here’s what Vice President of Human Resources at SpaceX, Brian Bjelde, has to say about employee engagement and the power of purpose.
Glassdoor: So what’s it really like inside the company on a mission to Mars and helmed by Elon Musk?
Brian Bjelde: Since we got the external recognition by your company last year, we did a little bit of promoting of it on our end through social media. We’ve got tag lines and internal roll-outs – everyone in the company heard about it. Not only is it a recruiting tool that helps inform candidates that are applying to SpaceX… it also helps our internal employees.
Most of them already know that we’re one of the top places to work, but it doesn’t hurt to read about it at the newsstands or online. You’ve got a pretty far and wide reach with your blogs and the website activity. I think that helps from a retention standpoint – they’re proud of it.
In our own employee engagement surveys, we score off the charts in the category of employee pride. They’re very proud of what they’re doing. It all ties back to the mission where we’re trying to take humanity and allow it to exist on another planet. We can’t think of a better mission at any company, and they’re very proud of it.
We’ve got many thousands of employees here in L.A. now, and you can’t go anywhere without seeing the SpaceX gear. Restaurants, bars, movie theaters… you name it. They’re just so proud. I think that having your third-party recognition added kindling to the fire.
Culture codes of best places to work
Building and maintaining a great company culture is key to becoming a contender for Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list. Discover the secrets of winning companies in our eBook, Culture Codes of Best Places to Work.