For employers and employees alike, the coronavirus pandemic keeps delivering new complications in South Florida’s workplaces.
After two years of uncertainty over how to control COVID-19, red-flag terms such as the “Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” (becoming less psychologically invested in work) are growing more prevalent on the employment relations scene. And there’s another new challenge that was absent last year: Rampant inflation. Workers want raises and better benefits to help them keep pace with the surging cost of living.
Now, after clawing their way back toward pre-pandemic business levels, companies find themselves in a new battle to keep employees from heading for perceived greener pastures.
As a result, South Florida employers need to understand that it is even more critical to closely monitor external and internal events, and to respond in kind if they are to retain top talent and keep worker satisfaction at high levels if they want to grow their companies and sustain profitability.
“You’ve got to talk to employees and try to understand,” said Greg Barnett. chief people scientist at Energage, a Philadelphia-area human resources firm that it is partnering with the South Florida Sun Sentinel in an annual Top Workplaces survey of tri-county private and public sector employees.
How did employers do this time around?
For the ninth consecutive year, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and Energage intend to find out through the Top Workplaces survey, which is based on employee feedback.
But we need your help.
Starting today through Oct. 28, employees can nominate their own employer or another private- or public-sector organization as a Top Workplace — and tell us why.
Any organization in the public, private, nonprofit or government sectors with 35 or more employees in South Florida is eligible to participate in the forthcoming program.
Employers from large, midsize and small organizations will be surveyed from September through January 2023. Workplaces themselves are evaluated by their employees using a short 24-question survey.
The publication of the results will be next spring at a date to be determined.
The phone number for nominations is 954-666-0786. To place nominations online, go to SunSentinel.com/nominate.
In the the past year’s program, a beverage distributor and professional service firms in law and finance topped the program’s large, midsize and small business categories.
In all, 4,300 employers in South Florida were invited to have their employees take the survey. Combined, the 176 organizations surveyed for the 2022 program employed 40,271 people in South Florida. and 19,237 people submitted responses.
In the end, 125 employers earned recognition as Top Workplaces and were honored last spring at a special event.
Gold Coast Beverage of Pompano Beach, which employs 619 people locally, topped the large category. Founded in 1946, the family-owned company was sold in 2015, but the new ownership makes sure its people have time for life outside of work while instilling a family atmosphere on the job, Frank Schwiep, Gold Coast’s president, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel earlier this year.
“In order to create that culture and vibe, it’s grounded in integrity and ethics,” Schwiep said. “We think that’s a secret sauce and that’s the difference between us and other companies.”
The company is a wholesale beer distributor in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Employees get generous benefits, including a 50% match on 401(k) contributions and discounts on insurance premiums through a wellness program. There’s also, of course, beer — new hires get a case and then everyone takes home another at the holidays.
ROIG Lawyers, the law firm based in Deerfield Beach, took the No. 1 spot in the midsize business category for the second straight year.
Management’s willingness to be flexible with employee hours impressed Melissa Dominguez when she started at the 161-employee firm as a receptionist two decades ago. She was concerned about juggling the new job with her newborn.
“They gave me the flexibility where, as a single mom, God forbid if my kid got sick, I could go take care of him and even sometimes bring him into the office,” Dominguez says. “They are probably the most understanding humans on the face of the earth.”
The insurance defense litigation firm sponsors regular get-togethers and events that include extended families of employees, said Michael A. Rosenberg, ROIG’s managing partner.
Supreme Lending Southeast of Alpharetta, Georgia, a mortgage firm that employs 36 people in Coral Springs. took the top spot in the small business category.
Pat Flood, regional operating partner, says the firm maintained a hybrid work system where employees are encouraged to excel at home as much as they do at the office.
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“We want to have a place where our employees and customers love us but, at the same time, we’re also extremely competitive,” Flood says. “That’s our vision and philosophy.”
The success came even as the firm rode tumultuous times in a mortgage service industry where rates are now moving sharply upward.
During the early stage of the pandemic, Flood says the company had a 97% retention rate among its employees. It was possible in part because the company pays attention to what employees need outside of work, Flood said. He added the firm maintains a corporate scoreboard that measures four things: workplace quality, customer service, market share and productivity.
Nationally, Energage conducted surveys for media in 61 markets in the past year, collecting the observations of more than 2 million employees at 8,000 organizations.
The foundation of the program is a scientific survey of employees who rate their workplace culture. The feedback also gives insights to company managements about what makes their organizations unique. And it gives them a fresh take on how they can improve day-to-day and long-term relationships with employees.
Survey feedback from employees is the sole basis for determining Top Workplaces. And this time around, that feedback is likely to serve as the ultimate test of how effectively employers keep their organizations together in the face of new economic and job market challenges posed by inflation, politics and COVID-19.
Staff writer David Lyons can be reached at dvlyons@SunSentinel.com