Meet America’s Best Large Employers 2021
The University of Alabama at Birmingham is no ordinary institute of higher education. Not only are its 23,000 employees responsible for the education and well-being of more than 22,000 students, but many have also been tasked with caring for thousands of pandemic-stricken patients
“We’ve had almost up to 300 Covid patients at a time with 30% in an ICU,” says President Dr. Ray Watts. “They have done it without complaint. The resilience of our employees during these times of greater stress had been remarkable.”
More than half of Watts’ employees work at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, which is among the 20 largest hospitals in the United States. To ensure their health this past year, Watts says all employees have been supplied with ample personal protective gear. After an outpouring of donations from the community and the university, the hospital had to open a 20,000 square foot warehouse, where it now stores more than 100,000 masks, 150,000 reusable isolation gowns and 5.5 million exam gloves. All employees were also given access to mental health resources, including a mental wellness app developed at the university.
These actions, among other initiatives, helped UAB secure the top spot on Forbes’ list of America’s Best Large Employers 2021. Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to pinpoint the companies liked best by employees in 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 U.S. employees, and another for the top midsize companies with 1,000 to 5,000. This article focuses on the former.
UAB isn’t the only university to rank highly: the top 20 includes Yale University (No. 5), the University of Maryland, Baltimore (No. 13), Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (No. 14), the University of Arizona (No. 16), the University of Michigan (No. 17) and the University at Buffalo (No. 19).
Watts credits UAB’s strong standing to its focus on community. As a means of investing in its employees and the vitality of its campus’ neighboring towns, every employee who buys or renovates a home in the surrounding area is given an $8,000 grant, he says. The university has also provided many employees with subsidized childcare during the pandemic.
Perhaps more importantly, Watt says, UAB has given workers the opportunity to innovate in ways that have not only helped the community, but their colleagues. Last summer, UAB faculty developed a contact-tracing app called GuideSafe, which notifies users if they have been within six feet of another user who has tested positive for Covid-19.
“Hundreds of thousands of people not only in Alabama but around the country have used this,” he says. “We tried to be as innovative as we can and make sure we are protecting our greatest asset, which is our people.”
Ranking at No. 21 is another company that’s helped customers and employees weather the past year: Netflix. While the streaming service has offered customers a cure to their pandemic boredom, it’s offered employees access to mindfulness app Headspace and text-based coaching platform Ginger. Netflix also recently introduced an education reimbursement of up to $6,000 for employees’ children during the pandemic, this in addition to covering the cost of child, elder, adult or even pet backup care for up to 10 days through Care.com in the U.S.
Though Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings was famously quoted last fall as saying he isn’t a fan of remote work, his company’s benefits package—which includes unlimited paid parental leave (though new parents typically take between four and eight months) and $75,000 to support fertility, surrogacy or adoption—affords employees ample work-life balance.
Amir Moini, a spokesperson for Netflix, says the company also offers paid military leave, for both active duty and training, as well as transgender-inclusive benefits, including gender confirmation surgery, mastectomy with chest reconstruction, scrotoplasty, phalloplasty and voice therapy, among others.
“We try to operate from this inclusion lens in all aspects of our business,” Moini says. “That's very top of mind for the team, as well as all the employees”
For the full list of America’s Best Large Employers, click here.
To determine the list, Statista surveyed 50,000 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 other than their own, as well as identify organizations they would not recommend to others. The final list ranks the 500 large and 500 midsize employers that received the most recommendations.
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