Why the Best SMB Workplaces Aren’t Worried About the Great Resignation

Claire Hastwell

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CATEGORIES

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Are you part of the Filipino workforce who are just riding out the pandemic with pent-up resignations brewing in your draft for sometime, waiting for things to show more certainty before hitting the send button to HR?

You may not be alone in this plight. In fact, economists are coining it the great resignation, in which a significant number of the global workforce are considering leaving their employer this year.

On the other hand, if you are part of HR and talent acquisition worried about this impending influx, this article about how Best SMB’s in the US deal with their talent flight risk, and beating the hiring crunch might help.

Jake Soberal, co-CEO and co-founder of Bitwise Industries, says he isn’t worried about the hiring crunch hitting the U.S. right now—because he hires people other employers overlook.

Bitwise, based out of Fresno, California, is a tech training and consulting firm that provides paid apprenticeships to marginalized communities. The company upskills these apprentices into positions either within Bitwise or with a third-party employer, through public-private partnerships.

Since launching in 2013, Bitwise has expanded into Bakersfield, Merced and Oakland in California, and into Toledo, Ohio, with several more cities in the works. And in the past year alone, amid a global pandemic, it’s also tripled in size.

“It was two people in 2013. Today I think we’re nearly 400,” says Soberal. “At the very beginning, it was white knuckling … to prove our early concepts … and now we get to these wonderful outcomes of people coming from poverty, earning a job in tech.”

With such a mission behind it, it’s not surprising Bitwise is #9 on the 2021 Fortune Best Small & Medium Workplaces™ list in the medium category.

The list, produced by Great Place to Work®, is based on anonymous survey data representing more than 282,000 employees at small- and medium-sized businesses, assessing their experiences of trust, innovation, company values and leadership.

Soberal and Bitwise co-founder Irma Olguin are both Mexican-American—and Olguin, the granddaughter and daughter of field workers, was the first in her family to go to college. It’s these roots that inspired them to start a company that specifically recruits workers from historically disenfranchised communities and systemic poverty.

To do this, they outreach in communities where they’ve established trust, informing local people of opportunities in the tech space and helping them to decide whether it’s a career they’d like to pursue.

From there, interested candidates join an apprenticeship path, during which Bitwise addresses each candidate’s individual needs and challenges that could hinder career development—from childcare to transportation to food security—while also providing paid compensation.

“We want to get the world out of your way so that you can be the best version of whoever you are,” explains Soberal.

In the company’s employee survey responses, many employees called out Bitwise’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, particularly as it relates to representing the local community in its cities.

“The expression of Bitwise is not a rinse, wash, repeat,” says Soberal. “The Black community in west Oakland is very different in terms of its cultural values, its needs, its wants than the Latinx community on the west side of Fresno county doing field labor. Both deeply important, but how you reach them, how you support and serve them, very different.”

It’s only a crunch if you limit your reach

Economists are calling it the “Great Resignation.” Frustrated, burnt-out workers are re-assessing their priorities in a post-pandemic world, whether that’s the flexibility to continue working from home, a farewell to the standard 9-to-5 or pursuing a new career path altogether.

And with it, many employers are now facing a hiring crunch—a fight to find and retain talent as business finally picks up and job openings soar.

In April, more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs, according to the Department of Labor, breaking a 20-year record, and over 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year. But as many companies scramble to prevent the looming threat of turnover, Soberal says it’s an issue he doesn’t need to worry about.

“How are we beating the hiring crunch? We’re just not,” he says. “We are not endeavoring to hire the same folks that others are. We are reaching, training and equipping and hiring from places and groups that others just won’t.”

Soberal says that too many workplaces are tight-fisted with their hiring — they expect that once an employee is brought on-board and trained, that employee should want to stay put until retirement. But Bitwise views its workplace as a launching pad, either to new roles within Bitwise and its partners, or into the broader tech space.

“I think one of the consequences of the pandemic is that folks who already had a sense of agency and a job that affords them some level of privilege, feel an increased sense of agency: ‘I can be and do anywhere at any time,’” says Soberal.

“That was consistent with our culture already. Do you have a thing you want to do on the side? We want to support that and see it succeed. Do you have a new interest that you want to explore internally? We’d like to open up channels and opportunities for you to do that.”

It’s about the person, not the position

Another company taking a non-traditional approach to recruitment is Nationwide Mortgage Bankers (NMB), which jumped 66 spots to hit #6 on the 2021 list in the medium-sized category.

The company flips the hiring process on its head by creating roles for the people they want to hire, rather than finding people to fill pre-determined positions. This includes hiring people without mortgage experience, whether or not a position is even currently open for them.

“We can find out what people want to do, what their strengths are, and we can create positions around that,” says Jodi Hall, President of NMB. As a result, “they have a higher quality output. They’re passionate about what they are doing.”

Hall says this doesn’t just apply to new recruits, but to existing employees as well. The company has taken steps such as moving underperforming or disengaged employees into new roles that better suit their interests, and has heavily pushed promotion paths, even during the pandemic.

“From January 1, 2021, through May 31, we’ve made 27 internal promotions,” says Hall. “And they weren’t just promotions from, ‘I’m a processor, now I’m a senior processor.’ We had processors move into underwriting roles. We had underwriters move into leadership roles.”

Legato Health Technologies Philippines Inc. is a healthcare managed services and solutions company that delivers IT and business operations services to US Health Insurers. In their recent employee survey results, they were rated very well in the following statements:

89%
I am treated as a full member regardless of my position.
91%
When you join the company, you are made to feel welcome.

Recruitment is a two-way street

After more than a year of customers forced to shelter at home, the service and retail sectors were particularly impacted by the pandemic — and are now most likely to feel the hiring crunch.

That’s because low pay (the U.S. federal subminimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13/hour) and frustrating working conditions (restaurant staff have reported dramatically increased health risks and harassment during the pandemic) have sent many service workers walking.

In a survey by UC Berkeley Food Labor Research Center, 53% of hospitality workers said they plan to leave the industry.

As the only hospitality company to make the small workplaces list, Playa Hotels & Resorts (#37, small category) is doing something right to combat the mass exodus of service workers. One of those somethings is viewing a recruitment as a two-way street, where the candidate holds just as much power as the employer.

“Often companies are looking for a one-way fit,” says Dayna Blank, senior vice-president of human resources at Playa. “Yes, they meet the job description in terms of their experience, their education, their certifications and so forth, but will they feel at home? We want candidates to feel like they found where they belong. I want them to interview us too, I want them to be happy long term, it is not a one-sided choice.”

Playa’s approach to individuality extends beyond the hiring phase to even how they recognize employees for jobs well done. Rather than have a set reward for milestones, employee recognition is often tailored to the individual’s personality and interests.

One high-performing employee frequently expressed interest in joining a gym, so the company bought her a gym membership.

“Some people like public recognition, some people like private, some people want money, some people want time off,” says Blank. “It’s making sure the recognition fits the person that’s deserving of it.”

Improve the whole by focusing on the individual

The whole may indeed be better than the sum of its parts, but when it comes to workplace retention, you can’t lose sight of those parts.

Soberal says it’s precisely because of Bitwise’s commitment to diversity and individualism, and meeting employees’ needs (rather than only expecting employees to meet company needs) that they’ve been able to grow and create a workplace where hiring crunches and great resignations are not a concern.

“It’s not: we will tolerate you, we will charitably serve you,” says Soberal. “It’s: you are essential to our collective success. We have continually gotten better if for no other reason than we’ve added wonderful people who have expanded the edges of that culture and enriched it.”

HP Philippines is a global brand with a local soul, focusing on empowering Filipinos with new technologies and global innovation capabilities. In a message from their Print Category Manager, Macky Lim, he takes pride in their culture that withstands the test of these tough times:

“As we are faced with the new normal in the workplace, I often hear of companies struggling to keep employees happy and engaged. Big or small company, all have not been spared by this massive evolution of how we work given the pandemic realities. With HP Philippines now part of GPTW – awarded in the toughest of times, is a testament that our team and our culture is made up of the right ingredients. Hard times really reveal the soul of an organization, and now the people have spoken – we are a Great Place to Work despite it all!”

Never too small to make a difference

See the Fortune 2021 full list of Best Small & Medium Workplaces.

Check out the other Small and Medium Workplaces who made it to our Asia’s Best Workplaces List.

Get more ideas from Great Place to Work on how the best workplaces are attracting and retaining top talent in their monthly company culture newsletter.

Claire Hastwell

Author

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces™ in Asia by surveying over 1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting over 4.7 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2021 or early 2022.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

Great Place To Work identifies Best Workplaces in Asia™ by surveying 2.1 million employees in Asia and the Middle East about the key factors that create great workplaces for all and analyzing company workplace programs impacting 5.9 million employees in the region.

To be considered, companies must first be identified as outstanding in their local region by appearing on one or more of our Best Workplaces lists in Bahrain, Greater China (including China, Hong Kong and Taiwan), India, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, UAE, Vietnam during 2022 or early 2023.

Companies rank in three size categories: Small and Medium (10-499 employees); Large (500+); and Multinational. Multinational organizations are also assessed on their efforts to create great workplaces across multiple countries in the region. They must appear on at least two national lists in Asia and the Middle East and have at least 1,000 employees worldwide with at least 40% (or 5,000+) of those employees located outside the headquarters country.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

For All™ Methodology

Great Place to Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2022 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 130,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees

Why do you say in one place your national list scoring is based on 85%/15% and in another place that it is 75%/25%?

We are explaining two different things:
1.  The criteria we evaluate

  •  85% concerned with Trust and Maximizing Human Potential and
  • 15% concerned with everything else

2.  Where the data comes from

  • 100% Trust Index for organizations with less than 100 employees
  • 75% based on the Trust Index survey analytics and 25% based on responses to the Culture Audit for organizations with more than 100 employees.
For All™ Methodology

Great Place To Work, the global authority on workplace culture, determined the Philippines Best Workplaces™ 2023 List by conducting annual workforce studies through our Trust Index Survey™ and Culture Management platform Emprising®, representing the voices of over 450,000 employees across the Philippines.

Employees responded to over 60 survey questions describing the extent to which their organization creates a great place to work For All™, meaning that the company empowers all individuals to reach their full human potential. Eighty-five percent of the evaluation is based on what employees report about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization, no matter who they are or what they do. We analyze these experiences relative to each organization’s size, workforce makeup, and what’s typical in their industry and region. The remainder of the evaluation is an assessment of all employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, people’s ability to contribute new ideas, and the effectiveness of their leaders to ensure they’re consistently experienced.

To ensure surveys truly represent all employees, we require enough people in each organization to respond that results are accurate to a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error or better. We review any anomalies in survey responses, news, and financial performance to ensure there aren’t any extraordinary reasons to believe we couldn’t trust a company’s survey results.

Categories:
These organizations’ assessment is based 100% on employee responses to the Trust Index survey.

  • Small 10-99 Employees

For larger organizations with more than 100 employees, we also use our Culture Audit™ tool, asking organizations to share with us their practices, policies, and programs to create a great workplace For All™ and evaluate the approach they take.

  • Medium 100-999 Employees
  • Large 1000+ Employees