Economic Development and Human Resources

How does area rate among best, brightest?

West Michigan scores well in community initiatives category; lacks in leadership.

April 29, 2016
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The scores are in, and West Michigan is hitting some national benchmarks — but certainly not all of them.

In conjunction with the Michigan Business & Professional Association’s upcoming West Michigan’s 2016 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For banquet May 5, the organization also has revealed how West Michigan businesses stack up against their counterparts in the other nine Best and Brightest Companies to Work For regions in the country.

Companies are scored in 15 categories, most of which are related to human resources, as part of the Best and Brightest competition.

Best and Brightest is a “program that honors companies that provide excellent human resources and benefits to their employees, as well as make efforts to enrich their employees’ lives as a whole,” said Alicia Wilson, director. This is the 14th year of recognizing outstanding companies for their work, she said.

The information taken in these business surveys was scored by an outside independent agency, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Center for Research and Development, she said.

“We have the employer fill out a very thick questionnaire, about 30 pages long, and then we survey their employees. And we make sure that information aligns,” Wilson said.

West Michigan’s businesses were then rated against the other nine regions in the program: Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego and Boston.

“We scored ranks and provided data in West Michigan. Then what we do is, we also have a national competition in addition to the regional competition,” said Jennifer Kluge, MBPA president.

“We have 1,500 winners across the country. This data is based on the 100 that have won in West Michigan.”

West Michigan scored “significantly above” the national benchmark in the community initiatives category. It ranked “slightly above” in the categories for teamwork and cooperation and employee enrichment, engagement and retention.

It scored right at the national benchmark for work-life balance, strategic company performance, culture, and compensation, benefits and employee solutions.

West Michigan scored “slightly below” the national average for job/work, employee education and development, and diversity and inclusion. The areas with the most room for improvement, ranking “below” the national benchmark, are: leadership; immediate supervisor; employee achievement and recognition; recruitment, selection and orientation; and communication and shared vision.

Kluge said the lofty score in the area of community initiatives proves West Michigan is full of people who want to give back.

“This is a testament to the advantage of West Michigan as a tight-knit community. It shows employers’ commitment to the community and working together to ensure West Michigan is a destination for top talent,” she said. “This is a huge advantage over larger cities such as Chicago and Houston that did not score as high in this area. This strength should be leveraged in all West Michigan recruiting efforts.”

Scoring at the national benchmark should not be viewed negatively, Kluge added.

“This means West Michigan is truly competitive in these areas. So, the misnomer of larger cities are ‘better’ places to work is just not true,” she said. “In a majority of these areas, West Michigan excels and competes with large market cities across the U.S.”

West Michigan scored below the national benchmark in the areas of leadership, immediate supervisor, employee achievement and recognition, recruitment, selection and orientation, and communication and shared vision.

Kluge said this score is not necessarily something that needs improvement, but more so understanding differences from other regions. She said a job well done might be expected in West Michigan, whereas other regions reward those accomplishments.

“More time needs to be spent training leaders and supervisors on how to implement appreciation in the culture of the organization, share data and knowledge and create more transparency in leadership,” she said. “The number one reason employees stay in their jobs is that they feel appreciated so, if anything, West Michigan results would determine that supervisors and leaders should focus there for long-term results.”

Kluge said she was not surprised by West Michigan’s standing in the national comparison, saying it shows the strong community and strong work ethic, and that West Michigan is a solid community for Best and Brightest employers. The data matches the ideals of the culture of this region.

“There are some incredible best practices of the Best and Brightest companies. We will be publishing these best practices in the coming month — stats, case studies and ideas to borrow,” she said.

“If every company in West Michigan implemented one or two of these best practices, it will help the community as a whole.”

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