As the unemployment rate continues to hover at a low 4.1% and the U.S. economy marks its 90th consecutive month of job gains, Americans find themselves in a unique position: the tightest employment market in 17 years. While good news for job seekers, finally in-demand and with the upper hand, it poses a challenge for employers vying to attract and retain top talent. As always, some companies are outpacing the competition.
Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to identify the companies liked best by employees with our annual ranking of America’s best employers. The ranking is divided into two lists: one for the top large companies with more than 5,000 employees, and another for the top midsize companies with 1,000 to 5,000.
To determine the list, Statista surveyed 30,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 1,000 employees. All the surveys were anonymous, allowing participants to openly share their opinions. The respondents were asked to rate, on a scale of zero to 10, how likely they’d be to recommend their employer to others. Statista then asked respondents to nominate organizations in industries outside their own. The final list ranks the 500 large and 500 midsize employers that received the most recommendations. This article will focus on the former.
Google (No. 3), Costco (No. 5) and Wegmans Food Markets (No. 8)—all famous for their corporate cultures, all fixtures in the top 10 since 2015—continued to finish high in the ranks, but it was Michelin that climbed 33 spots to clinch the No. 1 spot. The tire manufacturer employs 22,000 workers in 19 plants across Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina and South Carolina, but is headquartered in Clermont-Ferrand, France, making it the only non-American company to break into the top 10. The key to the employer’s success is simple: “I sum it up with two words: We care,” says David Stafford, chief human resources officer of Michelin North America. “We offer a purpose-driven career with a purpose-driven company. That really resonates today, because people want to be part of a company that stands for more than just business.”
Michelin may not be the first organization that comes to mind when you think about corporate social responsibility, but its business model centers on sustainability—equipping airplanes, cars and motorcycles with energy-efficient tires. So does its employer brand: A corporate partner of the Yellowstone Park Foundation and the World Wildlife Foundation, among others, Michelin offers employees opportunities to give back, its workforce dedicating more than 31,500 days to volunteering efforts annually. The company is also a member of the United Nations Global Compact, developing green tires with a goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 30 tons by 2030, and a supporter of Main Street, sponsoring small businesses to the tune of $10.8 million since 2009. “People understand we care,” says Stafford. “We do things that make a difference in the world.”
But Michelin’s dedication to corporate social responsibility is just one of the factors that make it a top employer, with Stafford acknowledging the company’s focus on the future workforce as an important element in attracting talent. “We’re promoting manufacturing careers in several ways,” he says of Michelin Youth Apprenticeship, a program for high school students interested in technical professions. Other initiatives geared toward preparing the next generation for jobs of the future include the company’s technical scholarship and co-op programs. “We know if we can get the best and the brightest to join us in their sophomore and junior years, we have a greater chance of getting them to join us as graduating seniors,” says Stafford.
Once employees are in the door, it’s the advancement opportunities that keep them coming back for more. “People come for a job and stay for a career,” says Stafford, his own 34-year journey from material science engineer to the C-suite a testament to Michelin’s culture of longevity. And Stafford is hardly an outlier. Just look to the Anderson, South Carolina plant, where the average worker’s tenure is 13 years and 60% of the workforce—managers included—got their start on the manufacturing floor. By challenging entry-level employees and investing in management development, Michelin is able to retain its workforce exceptionally well. “The opportunities we give Michelin employees to grow, learn and advance in their careers in different ways means they don’t have to jump to another company,” says Stafford. “The more we can empower our teams and employees to achieve results, the better off we are.”
For full coverage of America’s Best Employers, click here.
America’s Best Employers 2018 – Forbes