What It Means To Be a Great Place to Work (and 3 Tips For Your Entry!)

April 20, 2021

The 2021 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list was revealed on April 12. If you’re not familiar, it’s a highly anticipated announcement each year, with the list recognizing U.S. organizations with 1,000+ employees, from myriad industries and locations, that are, well, great places to work. We’re thrilled to see some of our clients — past and present — celebrated in this year’s list, including Northwell Health, Regeneron, Merck, Genentech, and, Robert Half, to name a few.  

So, what does being a great place to work actually mean?  

Broadly speaking, the list celebrates companies where all employees — no matter who they are or their role — have consistently positive experiences at work. More officially, the methodology used by Great Places to Work (the organization that runs the Fortune list) includes an employee survey (the “Trust Index Survey”) and the completion of a Culture Audit that delves into detail on a company’s workplace practices, programs, and employee experience.  

“Our 30 years of continual research have proven that the definition of a great workplace is one where employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do and enjoy the people they work with...great workplaces for all are able to maximize their human potential through effective leaders, meaningful values, and a deep foundation of trust with all employees. When those are in place, these workplaces benefit from improved innovation and financial growth.” (Dig into the criteria a bit more here.)

Aside from the satisfaction of seeing one’s workplace recognized, being named a Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For is a powerful accolade for recruitment and retention. (And let’s be honest, pure celebration!)  

As part of the 2021 entry (meaning, the entry that companies submitted in 2020), Great Places to Work asked organizations to share how they cared for their people and their communities during 2020, a historically difficult time. I can only imagine the volumes of inspiring examples and stories that surfaced, and below I’ve included five favorite employee quotes included in the 2021 list showcase:


“The attention that the executive team pays to the health and welfare of the surrounding community is extraordinary. Company leadership works to ensure that the company is an active member of the communities in which we operate and are quick to provide resources to support the most vulnerable.

"I also am heartened by our CEO's focus on social justice issues, specifically those in support of the Black community. Before it became en vogue to do so, he was vested in listening and taking authentic strategic, meaningful actions.”


“Hands down, the way Marriott took care of their associates during the pandemic was beyond unbelievable! We got hit hard in hospitality, and for as many positions that could be furloughed to be, with a few months of 20% pay and supplemental healthcare pricing extended through as long as it could be offered, meant so much during a very hard time.

"Marriott even partnered with outside companies that were hiring, both in hourly positions as well as executive positions, and worked with us to ensure we as associates had access and a reference to get a new job / career, if we chose that path…”


“I strongly believe that a unique quality about this company is the honest leadership. During the pandemic, we have been given truthful, up-to-date information on COVID-19 and were never kept in the dark. I also feel that Northwell has amazing leadership that are approachable and always willing to listen to their employees' issues or problems and help in getting them resolved.

"Another unique quality, and I will speak for my particular department, is that it is a GREAT environment to work in. Our team is filled with team players always willing to lend a helping hand. This helps to create a fun and energetic environment when coming to work.”


“Regeneron went out of its way during this pandemic to make sure everyone was safe and had a fair shake at things. It's not easy to motivate people to go into work while keeping half of the company at home to prevent exposure, but I think through Regeneron's strong messaging and communication we were all able to come together and accomplish something great. I was also impressed by their handling of the BLM movement.

"As an African American male it’s nice to know that I work for a company that really puts its money where its mouth is regarding making changes in underserved communities. And, very importantly, it maintains a work environment where I don't feel like I'm being treated like a child or pitied. It takes extremely professional, and very talented leadership to create such an environment.”


“Merck has a clear pandemic response plan, great communication to employees and information sharing. Our benefits increased this year in response to the pandemic and I feel incredibly supported - child care, elder care, mental health support and more. I feel Merck truly cares about me as an individual and an employee, and has stepped up to support me. I am very appreciative of this.”

And because I can’t help myself...
Three brilliant tips for your Fortune 100 Best entry

We’ve partnered with many clients over the years to help them develop entries that showcase their workplaces and employee programs. Whether you’re developing your company’s entry from the ground up, or revising your existing materials, here are my top three recommendations:

1. Be Specific

My biggest piece of advice is to be specific — your entry isn’t a place for platitudes.

Are you stating that your workplace is equitable? Back it up with examples of employee programs, data, and employee quotes. Does your company support mental health awareness? List and describe your various offerings, as well as how you communicate/promote them among employees, and share employee participation rates. Specifics and statistics go a long way in painting a picture of your workplace, which can help set you apart from other organizations.  

2. Prioritize

Prioritize what you decide to highlight in your entry. There’s a word count, so make the most out of the space you have – focus on programs and examples that impact all employees, versus highlighting those that may only impact a small group of your people. (Keep Great Places to Work’s methodology in mind!)

3. Start early

Give yourself at least a few months to source content, write, edit, circulate internally, and put the finishing touches on your entry. It’s likely that a lot of your colleagues and executives will have input, and will need to review your entry, so give yourself the gift of time to get it over the finish line.

If you’re looking for support with your Great Place to Work entry, we’d love to partner with you. For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Becky Sennett

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