Despite changing criteria, several companies have made the Workforce 100 list all three years, including AT&T. Bill Blase, AT&T’s executive executive vice president of human resources, is pictured with Cynt Marshall, the company’s senior vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer. Photos by Stewart Cohen
Let’s face it. It’s hard to be good at human resources. The bulk of that difficulty comes from the “human” part.
Truly understanding a workforce and delivering programs that meet employees’ needs is no small task. It’s for that reason that this year’s Workforce 100 list includes data from Glassdoor Inc., a leading job and recruitment site that holds a growing database of 8 million company and CEO reviews. Generous paid time off programs and fancy workout apps look good on paper, but human resources is not successful unless the humans say so.
This year, they had a voice in the Workforce 100. And what they said is pretty revealing.
Despite the changing criteria for what qualifies a company to be named to the Workforce 100 list, 34 companies have received the honor all three years of the program’s existence. American Express Co., which has made the list all three years and is the top ranked company in 2016, declined to comment for this story.
To see the 2016 Workforce 100 rankings, click here.
So how do certain companies keep making the list despite changing criteria? The companies we spoke with had strikingly similar responses.
“We put our people first,” said Francine Katsoudas, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Cisco Systems Inc. (No. 20 on the list). “That means listening to what our employees have to say and taking action to improve their lives.”
AT&T Inc. (No. 5) takes a similar approach. Cynt Marshall, the company’s senior vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer, explained: “At AT&T, we believe that every voice matters, and we want to give our voices access to our leaders so the employees feel they are being heard and so their ideas can be put into action.”
Heidi Soltis-Berner, talent director for the evolving workforce at Deloitte (No. 14), echoed that sentiment. “Deloitte is a people-centric business,” she said. “Our professionals are our greatest asset. We focus on what we need to understand and what matters most to the people we currently have and the recruits we are after.”
The programs and policies these organizations put in place to listen and respond to employees’ top concerns has put them in a position to create programs and initiatives that set them apart as leaders in the field of HR.
Hear Me Now
Recognizing that employee feedback is important is one thing. It’s quite another to create a process through which employees are actually heard. For many of the companies on this year’s list, the first step is facilitating an open dialogue.
Cisco, for instance, launched its Our People Deal 18 months ago to lay the groundwork for open communication. The program began with Cisco expressing what the company expects from its employees and what the employees can expect from Cisco, Katsoudas said. Cisco then created a platform on its intranet where employees could respond with what they expect from their company.
The results were almost immediate.
“This continuous employee feedback sparked our new initiative we call Moments That Matter, which addresses those career and personal moments that are important to our people,” Katsoudas said.
Employees identified 10 key moments in their career path with Cisco: My First Impression, My Innovation, My Leader, My Development, My Last Impression, My Rewards, My Workplace, My Technology, My Personal Experience, and My Making a Difference. From those benchmarks, Cisco began to develop programs and benefits that address key times and points of development that employees are concerned about.
AT&T took a different approach, but has sparked employee conversation just the same. As part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, AT&T created employee resource groups to spark conversations among different subsets of the employee population about what the business can be doing to serve them better, Marshall said.
Groups of veterans, employees over age 50 and those with disabilities meet regularly throughout the year, but all 120,000 members come together annually for an employee resource group conference that Bill Blase, the company’s senior executive vice president of human resources, describes as a “church revival.”
Over the course of the year, “All our members gather together to engage with our leaders in fireside chats,” Marshall added.
Listen and Respond
Follow through is the key differentiator among companies that have continued to make the Workforce 100 list.
Much like Cisco, Capital One Financial Corp. (No. 19) expressed its mission to employees and solicited feedback to make that mission a reality, said Lane Hopkins, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Capital One. One of the organization’s missions is to bring humanity into banking. And employees have held the company to that promise.
“In 2014 alone, Capital One associates volunteered more than 360,000 hours in services working with thousands of nonprofits to support and engage local communities,” Hopkins said. “In response to their efforts, the company has made a commitment to community as well. Our Future Edge campaign is a five year, $150 million philanthropic initiative to help more low-income U.S. workers and entrepreneurs get the skills, tools and resources they need to succeed in a digitally driven economy.”