Let’s be honest. It’s been a rough year at work. Those fortunate enough not to lose their jobs have spent months at home hunched over their computers or hidden behind masks trying to ward off COVID-19.
You’d think it would be a less than ideal time to ask employees what they like about their jobs. Indeed, a number of companies that consistently make our annual Top Places to Work list, including a few that often rank near the top, chose not to participate this year. But of the 80,000-plus employees at 285 companies that completed the survey, the responses were so positive that the Globe decided to expand the winners' list this year from 125 companies to 150. When it comes to company culture, it turns out, the best get better in a crisis.
And make no mistake, many companies were in crisis. Some, like Power Home Remodeling Group, were forced to temporarily furlough most of their workforce. Others, like MassMutual, had to set up nearly 7,500 employees to work from home, practically overnight. Event planners at Virtual, who arrange conferences around the world, suddenly had to become experts at live-streaming events.
Whatever these organizations did evidently worked, however, because their employees gave them glowing reviews. Indeed, a third of employees trust their employers more because of how well the companies reacted to the pandemic. That’s according to a global survey conducted by the Workforce Institute at UKG in Lowell, which completed a merger in the midst of the pandemic and came in as the No. 2 company in our largest size category.
For our 13th annual Top Places to Work list, The Boston Globe partnered with Energage, an Exton, Pennsylvania-based employee research and consulting firm, to administer anonymous employee surveys covering factors from leadership to benefits to feeling appreciated. The resulting winners are divided into four size categories, based on the number of employees: small (50-99); medium (100-249); large (250-999); and largest (1,000 or more). The stories we heard from workers at these companies were surprising and heartwarming, and brimming with humanity.
For example, Amanda Prokowiew, a business analyst at Fidelity Bank, was amazed to see a parade of co-workers from near and far drive by her house on her scaled-back wedding day in May. About 25 of them, including the CEO, had decorated their cars and held up signs wishing Prokowiew and her new husband well. They even stopped to pose for pictures with cardboard cutouts of the happy couple. “To work for a company that cares enough about you to try and make your day a little more special . . . it makes you feel valued,” Prokowiew says. “It’s priceless.”
Making employees feel valued is what it’s all about, after all, an effort that seems even more meaningful in the midst of a pandemic.
To participate in next year’s Top Places to Work survey, visit bostonglobe.com/nominate.