The Great Place to Work Institute isn’t actually that great a place to work

The company behind a survey of great workplaces looked at itself—with surprising results.
The company behind a survey of great workplaces looked at itself—with surprising results.
Image: AP Photos/Todd Williamson
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The Great Place to Work Institute just launched a new tool to rate and evaluate companies based on feedback from their staffs. The trouble is that the employees who created the site are hardly thrilled with working there.

In fact, the institute ranks lowest of any of the initial 24 companies on the site, called Great Rated!  Only 69% of its staff say the San Francisco-based Great Place to Work Institute is indeed a great place to collect a paycheck, compared to 80% to 97% at other companies who underwent similar evaluations.

These mediocre ratings come from a company best known for creating Fortune magazine’s annual Best Companies to Work For list, one that states its mission is “building a better society by helping companies to transform their workplaces.”

So why does a company that coaches others toward becoming great workplaces have such lackluster scores?

For one thing, it is compared to companies “at the top of the heap,” including many that make best places to work lists, spokeswoman Irene Fuller says in an interview with Quartz. She said the company is working to make improvements, even as it struggles “to stay competitive with compensation.”

Its score in that area—just 59% of workers say they receive a fair share of profits and other “great rewards”—came in about 20 percentage points below companies such as Capital One Financial, Publix Supermarkets and Sonoma Partners, a small business consulting firm.

The new Great Rated reports launched last week with 24 companies, with some 75 others expected to be posted in coming weeks. That means it competes with Indeed, which publishes a leaderboard on workplaces that can be viewed by city and state, and Glassdoor, which has 225,000 employers reviewed anonymously by current or former staff, among others.

Great Rated believes its surveys are better, more scientific and comprehensive than others out there. As more companies join in, CEO Kim Peters says “results will be all over the map. The best companies do well in an all categories. We think lesser companies will still have strong results in one or two categories.”

So why did Great Place to Work disclose its own scores when it will allow clients to withhold them if they don’t rate well enough? Here’s the official answer:

Since so many people ask us whether Great Place to Work really is a great place to work, we thought we should hold ourselves to the same level of transparency as any other organization.

If the rating company only gets a 69, those in the mid-70s may not feel so bad about sharing their workplace culture scores after all.