What They Do
Provide culture consulting services, leadership development, and great workplace recognition (Best Company lists and Great Rated! reviews) for businesses, non-profits, and government agencies.
Editor’s Note: Yes! We know it might be weird to read a review about our company written by ourselves, but since so many people ask us whether Great Place to Work really is a great workplace, we thought we should hold ourselves to the same level of transparency as any other organization. We used the same anonymous, random sample and analysis methodology as for any company and asked an independent third-party to verify the review. Here were the results.
What Makes Great Place To Work Institute, Inc. Great
When you work for a company called Great Place to Work, the obvious first question anyone asks is, “Well? Is it?”
More than three-quarters (77 percent) of the firm's U.S.-based employees say that it is, as people rave about the “incredibly inclusive and friendly atmosphere” that feels like “a family that trusts each other and has each other's backs.” People love that they are “making a difference," and while they appreciate perks like flexible work options, unlimited sick time, and anniversary cash to spend on their lives outside work, “it always comes down to the people,” explains one team member. “We work really hard for our clients, but what I really love is how hard we work for each other.”
Founded in 1992, Great Place to Work introduced the world to the value of creating great, trust-based relationships in workplaces. Today, the company has 41 affiliate offices operating across six continents and employs more than 500 employees across its global network. Great Place to Work’s U.S. staff is responsible both for helping U.S. companies create great workplaces, as well as supporting the firm’s worldwide affiliate network of Great Place to Work companies.
Passion for the Work
Great Place to Work's employees take a lot of pride in the positive impact they have on the work lives of millions of people around the world, praising the “highly fulfilling and invigorating work” which gives them the “ability to have an incredible impact on client organizations and senior client leaders." Nearly nine out of 10 employees are proud to tell others they work for this international firm. As one person puts it, “our mission alone is truly phenomenal and not many can say they work at an organization that conducts such tremendous work.”
People’s natural passion for their jobs makes for a hard-working team. Nearly everyone (97 percent of staff) feels that they carry a lot of responsibility, and nearly as many (92 percent) say that they are trusted to carry out these responsibilities without being micromanaged by company leaders. As hard as they work, employees are grateful that "everyone pulls their weight" and that they work with "kind and respectful people who try to treat others well.” Eighty-six percent confirm that their colleagues are consistently willing to go the extra mile to get work done.
Beyond supporting each other professionally, Great Place to Work employees are also there for each other personally. The vast majority (87 percent) say that people consistently care for each other. People describe a “true team that really bands together when work and personal issues demand," and report the company is full of "smart, caring, funny folks" who share a "deep sense of helping each other whenever the need arises." This is a place where, between baby showers and Giants' games, employees pitch in out of their own pockets to help each other replace stolen bikes, repair a damaged car, or send care packages to employees struggling with family illness.
It is also a place where company leaders can be relied upon to go out of their way to meet employees’ individual needs when unexpected circumstances arise. For example, when one employee was recovering from minor surgery, the company arranged for a limo service to take her to work daily for a month. Great Place to Work's unlimited sick time policy has been used to allow employees with gravely ill family members to take extended time off without compromising their salaries or accrued vacation time. Eight out of 10 employees say that managers care about them as people, not just employees.
Flexibility and support of individual circumstances is a core part of how the organization operates. Holidays are all floating, to be used as employees prefer; sick time is not tracked; and employees are able to adjust schedules and work locations to create balance in their lives. When employees decide to move for personal reasons, every effort is made to keep them in the Great Place to Work family. A fifth of the organization works in permanent telecommuting roles, and locations vary from Buenos Aires to Austin, Texas.
This high level of trust and flexibility is critically important to people because the nature of consulting work is demanding: "Flexibility is a key part of what keeps me going some days when my work is at a consistent peak," says one person.
Great Place to Work has grown rapidly (more than 20 percent during a recent 12-month period), and for some, the pace of work combined with people’s high degree of commitment to clients and each other has led to fatigue. While the majority (86 percent) say they are able to take time off when needed, others say that work-life balance is a challenge for the consulting firm. “People are tired” says one staff member. “We are busting our butts to do some real good in the world,” says one employee frankly. Given the pace of organizational change, the majority of workers are also hungry for more clarity regarding the company’s future, though many note that the recent arrival of new global CEO, China Gorman, has led to a greater sense of clarity and stability.
Come As You Are
As the organization grows, one value employees are sure to want to keep is the low ego and welcoming atmosphere that has 86 percent of employees saying they are consistently able to be themselves at work.
One of the more fun ways this down-to-earth vibe shows up is in the company’s highly-anticipated annual Kwirky Contest. The contest is an annual “un-talent” show that builds on Great Place to Work’s appreciation for creativity and respect for off-the-wall individual talent. Employees describe it as the “annual culture highlight” and look forward to blowing off steam and exposing their quirkiest selves. Performances have included a parody of Justin Timberlake’s famous SNL skit, re-imagined as “Survey in a Box”; spandex-clad synchronized ribbon dancers; and a performance by company co-founder Robert Levering – in a wig, dancing to Age of Aquarius. It’s all part of working with what one employee summarizes as a group of “brilliant, collaborative, fun, funny co-kwirkers.”
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- Unlimited Sick Time: Employees are expected to stay home and get better when they feel ill. There is no cap on sick time and its use is not tracked; people are trusted to and encouraged to use it as needed. Employees have been able to use the unlimited sick time policy as well to take extended time off to care for gravely ill family members without compromising employees’ salaries or accrued vacation time.
- Sabbatical Program: Employees are eligible to take a one-month full-paid sabbatical after five years employment, and again at every five-year anniversary after that. Team members have used the time to travel throughout Europe, camp across America, enjoy extended time with family who live in other states, take classes and bond with kids.
- Family Support: New parents typically receive a catered baby shower and dozens of clothes, books, toys and supplies for the new baby and family. In addition, the company will reimburse $600 of expenses towards any items the baby will need. Mothers who are giving birth receive four weeks company-paid time off and partners and adopting parents receive two weeks paid time off. Many employees combine this time with accrued vacation and take several months off following the birth of a child. Nursing mothers in the San Francisco office have access to a private dedicated room which has been customized with a deep comfy chair, low light, a refrigerator and photos of staff families to make it comfortable for lactation.
- Flexible Schedules & Telecommuting: Thirty percent of Great Place to Work’s staff telecommute on a regular basis; all employees can choose to telecommute on particular days when the personal need arises, provided they are still able to support their team members. Employees are trusted to manage their time effectively and be available to clients and colleagues as needed, so are able to come to and leave work as needed to make doctors’ appointments, classes or spend time with their friends and family.
- “Get-a-Life” Fund: Great Place to Work values working with well-rounded individuals who are invested in their lives outside work. As soon as an employee is hired, and on his or her anniversary every year thereafter, employees are presented with a check for $480 and the encouragement to use it to “get a life.” Employees have used the fund to take guitar classes, go to gemology school, support their inner artists and dancers, take tennis-addicted family members to the US open, and several people gave the funds to charity.
- Professional Development: Because of the nature of their work, Great Place to Work employees are exposed to the best companies and workplace practices all over the world. Client-facing employees routinely learn best management practices in the course of their work, and are encouraged to share these lessons (and invite clients to share these lessons themselves) with staff across the organization.
- Rewards: The company surprises employees with rewards throughout the year with a focus on giving everyone a chance to win. The company has a profit-sharing program in which all employees have the opportunity to be rewarded for their individual achievements in support of the company's goal achievement and financial success. One year, when ambitious quarterly sales goals were hit, the company spun a Wheel of Fortune-like “Wheel of Cash” and every employee in the company got a chance to win cash prizes of varying amounts. Even in the down economy, employees received cash gift cards to spend at the holidays.
- Kwirky Contest: Many employees’ favorite time of year is the annual Kwirky contest, which is a celebration of the company’s cherished value to be “kwirky” (so quirky they even spell it wrong) and do things in their own unique way. Employees throughout the company show off their “un-talents,” reciting poetry, coordinating team skits, parodying SNL bits and balliwood videos, and dancing with ribbons in leotards.
- New Hire Welcome: As soon as new hires accept their positions, employees throughout the company send personal emails to introduce themselves and welcome them to the organization. Upon arrival, new hires are supported by their New Hire Buddy, who is available to share stories, interpret acronyms, make connections, and generally be a helping guide in whatever way they need. To help new hires feel comfortable and quickly get to know their colleagues, employees share their own "kwirkiest" feature during the traditional new hire welcome lunch, and encourage the new hire to do the same.
- Employee Committees: Great Place to Work makes use of its on-staff talent by inviting employees across the company to run several committees. The Fun Committee, Health and Wellness Committee, Community Involvement Committee and People Posse are self-run groups that support the company’s culture. The groups send weekly health tips and run fitness challenges; coordinate blood drives and food bank support; advise the senior management team on onboarding strategies and ways to live the company’s value; host family picnics and run the Kwirky contest; send personal birthday cards to people’s homes and host diversity and cultural awareness celebrations.
Great Place To Work Institute, Inc. Facts
How to Get Hired at Great Place To Work Institute, Inc.
Great Place to Work is growing and always on the lookout for great people. Its US offices in San Francisco and New York house both the US consulting, training and research business, as well as its global headquarters, which supports 41 affiliate businesses throughout the world.
While many of its people have backgrounds in management consulting and/or industrial and organizational psychology, MBAs are also high on their list. The company needs all sorts of talents though – from data wonks to marketing folks, to writers, project managers and accountants. The global headquarters team in particular is always looking for bilingual (even multilingual) folks with multi-national experience.
Besides looking for well-rounded people who are inspired by and committed to the company’s mission, the company favors entrepreneurial and adaptive team players who can thrive in its unique and fast-paced environment.
Candidates can expect to go through several rounds of interviews and have the opportunity to meet staff members on their prospective team. Culture fit interviews are typically conducted by a group of folks from across the organization. Skill set and culture fit is of equal interest in hiring decisions, perhaps with extra consideration given to culture fit, as you might expect from a company named Great Place to Work.
If full-time positions are not available, be on the look-out for internships, contract or temporary work. Great Place to Work often has seasonal positions available helping to produce its annual conference, evaluating companies that apply to its Best Companies lists, writing Great Rated! reviews, or analyzing data and best practices from its extensive databases. This is a great way to get a feel for what the organization does and many staff members originally hired as temps have been hired into full-time positions.
To learn more, visit their careers page.
||19Average number of applicants per opening
|333Applicants in past year
||18Openings in past year
|11%New hires by employee referrals
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What Employees Say about Great Place To Work Institute, Inc.
Great Rated! collected feedback from Great Place To Work Institute, Inc. employees via an anonymous survey. Following are quotes that the data indicated represented common themes in employees’ feedback.
It's an environment where people truly care for each other. The support you receive from colleagues and management is exceptional.
I love working with teammates who take as much pride as I do in the work that we do ... I love the flexibility and autonomy I have. When I talk with some of my friends or work with clients that don't give their employees those options, I am reminded of how much I appreciate it.
I am able to bring my full skills and abilities and whole self to work. If I have the interest and drive in a particular topic or area of the business, there is room for me to explore, make suggestions, and lead initiatives.
We need better work-life balance - it is too common to see people online late nights and weekends working to meet deliveries and deadlines.
I love my coworkers. My team is wonderful and works well together to solve problems and support one another when needed.
We have great people practices. The work we do is interesting. We have easy access to our CEO and founder (in SF office). We celebrate each other and have fun. We understand the value of hard work and everyone pulls their weight.
I love this company and believe in what we do and am using every fiber of my being to keep at it. But I feel like I have been running a marathon at top speed over and over again, with no water or rest or end point in sight. Because I believe in what we are doing and I do think we are headed in the right direction and can do this, I keep ponying up to make it through.
The flexibility is amazing. I am thankful every day for our health care benefits. I feel like this is a safe place to be myself. In fact, I feel like I'm valued for being myself. This is the best job I've ever had, and I want to stay here for as long as they'll let me!
During a difficult (personal) time ... what was extraordinary was the kindness and caring I received from co-workers, who gave so much to me - taking on projects that I couldn't complete, sending me encouraging messages, bringing me meals. ... All of this was above and beyond what I expected and really made me feel I have a second family here. What's more, I have felt cared for throughout my tenure here, including the good times, which I think really shows that it's not just hardship that brings people together.
I really hope that we can start our work on formal professional development programs.
I am incredibly proud of the new CEO we have acquired and believe we will see a better, brighter future for Great Place to Work because of it. China makes me feel valued, thanked, and included in decisions that affect my work. She is warm and kind and always takes the time to talk to employees. She's the Trustworthy Leader personified and I trust that she will take her time, make the smartest decision possible, and hold us accountable to performing, while not being petty or political.
There is an unbelievable commitment by our people to our work and to each other. It can be tense. Very tense. And no one - client or colleague - is ever left by the side of the road even through the most difficult situations.
We need more clarity and consistency, and longer term (more than 12 months) alignment between strategy and action.
My boss is really really smart, caring, kind, exceptionally communicative. She has a great head for strategy is honest and direct. She keeps me motivated and learning new things!
Despite several reorganizations, Great Place to Work remains very non-hierarchical, which is great. People here are given a lot of responsibility, and encouraged to take on new projects. If you have the skill, the opportunity is yours for the taking! People really care about each other, and we are encouraged to bring our whole selves to the workplace. I think its great that were able to so easily work from home and adjust our schedules; it makes balancing work and life that much easier.
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