Great Rated!, Me and You

Posted by Ed Frauenheim on February 25 2014

ed-frauenheim By Ed Frauenheim

I'm the newest member of the Great Rated! team, but I may be the most jazzed up about the organization and its potential. Put simply, I believe Great Rated! is a way for people to change the world by demanding better workplaces.

Sound grandiose? Pie in the sky? Maybe. But maybe not.

Right now, workplaces by and large are not great places. Only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work worldwide, according to Gallup. In the United States, the economy of the past several years could be dubbed a "raiseless recovery"—given the paltry salary increase to most employees  —or a "work-more economy"—considering the way so many workers have been asked to do more with less. For seven years running, less than half of U.S. workers have been satisfied with their jobs, according to the Conference Board.

The crummy workplaces and work lives are not necessarily the result of evil, greedy CEOs and 1 percenters who own more than a third of stocks and mutual funds. Sure, avarice plays a role. But so do other factors. They include national policies, international trade rules, tough global competition, and plain old misguided management.

No Excuses 

But as my new colleagues Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin wrote in their book last year, there's no excuse for companies of all stripes not to become great workplaces. It takes willpower more than anything else. And it starts with trust, as Great Place to Work co-founder Robert Levering discovered years ago. 

In the course of studying thousands of companies, Robert has distilled the essence of an ideal organization this way: "a great place to work is one where employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work for."

That definition rings true to me. I have covered work, management and business for more than a decade as a journalist and commentator. At the Oakland Tribune chain of newspapers, at CNET, at Workforce magazine and in a book I co-wrote about the future of corporate social responsibility, I've sought out answers for how companies can do business in an "all-win" way. A way that works for employees, managers, owners, communities—all stakeholders. At times I've used other language to describe a great employer. But my views largely map onto the trust, pride and camaraderie formula at the heart of Great Place to Work.

Great Changes

That formula may be simple. But it isn't static. Organizations must wrestle with emerging questions such as what does it mean to be trustworthy in the era of Big Data? How do you demonstrate to workers that you are smart, and data-driven in management decisions and employee development yet respectful of privacy boundaries? How do you inspire workforce pride as expectations of business responsibilities to society shift? In what ways should you tap technology to foster community among colleagues, who increasingly are scattered across the globe?

These aren't easy questions to answer. But companies like the ones on the annual Best Companies to Work For list are figuring out ways for everybody to succeed. And people increasingly are demanding as much from the companies in their lives. As workers, as consumers, as community members and as investors. Civic-minded Millennials are a major factor behind this trend, but there's a broader, global desire to work at and do business with great workplaces

It's not a stretch to say a Great Place to Work Movement is under way, and we want to fuel it. Great Rated! is one way we're doing so. As more workers and job candidates learn about the site, they will demand that more companies expose themselves and their cultures. Average people seeking to research their future employers as thoroughly as they can research their next computer purchase at CNET will put pressure on companies to become more transparent and to raise their game as a great employer. Think of it this way: workers-as-consumers pushing for better workplaces, armed with Great Rated! reviews.

All In

But it isn't about class warfare. Many executives and owners also are joining the movement—and helping to lead it. We aim to work with those of you in the management ranks as well. As U2 puts it in their latest single "Invisible," "There is no them. There's only us."

All of us. Spending the greatest chunk of our waking hours at work. Nearly every day. Why not make these settings great? Meaningful, exciting, pleasant, even joyful. If every company became a great place to work, the world would be a much better place. Great Place to Work has been pursuing this mission for more than 25 years. It's a mission that attracted me to join forces this month with Robert and the rest of the team here. 

I'm excited about the way this mission, and this movement, is gaining momentum. I invite you to join us.

Ed Frauenheim is Content & Curation Specialist at Great Rated!