16 and counting: Best Places program still going strong
In 2000, Pennsylvania was one of the first states to recognize the importance of identifying outstanding workplaces on a statewide level through the Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania program.
Today, that program still thrives, having expanded to 22 other states, according to Peter Burke, President, Best Companies Group (BCG). Team Pennsylvania Foundation is a founding partner and ongoing sponsor of the Best Places to Work in PA program, now in its 16th year.
Burke said there are two factors driving the success of Best Places to Work, a program that conducts an employee survey to determine which participants are the best employers.
“It is great to be named to the list because it has a lot of impact, and given the coming labor shortage, companies will need to be more competitive and they are going to need people to work for them,” Burke said. “The second major reason is the employee measurement survey, which are the results along with the benchmarks that companies get. They can use the survey to be better, whether that is to make the list or move up the list in future years in addition to having that information for their managers.”
Burke added that the Pennsylvania version of the program has undergone a paradigm shift over the past 10 years.
“We don’t actually ask companies why they participate, but 10 years ago it was probably about making the list,” Burke said. “Now, because employee engagement is a part of every company’s management strategies, the survey is a really inexpensive, effective way to get employee feedback to make the workplace better. We’re sensing this shift – especially when you can benchmark results year after year after year, which is really important to a lot of these businesses.”
Best Places isn’t just limited to the United States, Burke said. In recent years it has expanded to Canada, Morocco and the United Kingdom and can be found in eight different countries.
“I need to get a bunch of clocks and put on my wall so I can keep up with all the time zone differences,” Burke said, laughingly. “Best Places is in nine different time zones, from as far west as Hawaii to Alaska, including all four in the United States, and others around the globe.”
In addition to expanding Best Places into new markets, BGC administers 14 different industry-specific initiatives and runs five city-oriented Best Places programs from the Big Apple to Baton Rouge to several California locations including San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County.
One reason Best Places has been successful in Pennsylvania is because of the ongoing relationship BCG has with Team PA, the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), also a co-founding and continuing partner, and other sponsors.
“Pennsylvania is a great example of how organizations like Team PA, DCED and SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) and Journal Multimedia can work together to make a program like Best Places so successful,” Burke said. “The fact that the partners publicize the program and bring so much credibility to the table really helps us make this program successful year after year.”
Burke said the reasons Team PA has been involved with BPTW since it was launched have remained consistent.
“Team PA really did help us get it off the ground and contribute to getting it established,” Burke said. “The Foundation supported the idea that this was a celebration of Pennsylvania’s workforce that honors outstanding companies and was a way to fight brain drain. Best Places aligns with Team PA’s focus on workforce development, economic development and honoring and celebrating businesses and their employees.”
Registration for the 2015 program is open until Friday, June 5.