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Announcing the 2022 Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award Winners

Announcing the 2022 Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award Winners

by Jim Harter, Kristi Rubenstein and Denise McLain

Story Highlights

  • 41 organizations honored with the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award
  • Winners leveraged their engaged cultures to navigate an unpredictable year
  • GEWA winners share best practices from embracing flexibility to making values-based decisions

The challenges organizations faced last year echoed those of 2020 -- but with new, complex layers for leaders to navigate. The prolonged pandemic meant managers led hybrid teams in flexible work environments out of necessity. Attraction and retention strategies were upended by the Great Reshuffling, and supply chains saw frequent disruption. On top of that, negative emotions (like stress, anger, worry and sadness), which have been climbing for the past decade, are now the highest Gallup has ever recorded. It's no wonder manager burnout increased in 2021.

While no organization or industry is immune from these problems, some intentionally listened to the needs of their employees and were much better equipped to navigate them. These exceptional workplaces didn't slow or hit pause when new hurdles emerged. Instead, they continued to engage and develop their people and pivoted when they had to -- quickly. As a result, these organizations have managed to maintain record employee engagement levels and see desired business outcomes, despite the obstacles.

These organizations are Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award (GEWA) winners. And in conversations with them, the review board noted that these organizations share some important attributes:

Using their organizational culture and values to guide business decisions.

GEWA winners consistently put their people -- employees and customers -- and their values at the center of decisions. These organizations listened to their people and took action based on their needs.

Leaders at these exceptional workplaces relied on their culture and organizational values when making decisions that affected their people. Employees, in turn, saw the organization's values lived out through decisions, which builds trust in leadership. Leaders ease employees' fears when they make decisions based on values. Values-based decision-making can include actions like senior leadership making budget sacrifices before it affects other employees or committing to not cut people until the organization reaches a certain threshold.

Embracing flexible work environments while developing plans for the future of work.

Nearly all of our winners talked about embracing flexibility. In organizations with traditional office environments, managing remote and/or hybrid teams was top of mind. Some organizations offered education for managers related to managing hybrid teams and even how to best work remotely themselves.

In industries where supply chain issues affected distribution, leaders talked about how leaning into the ever-changing nature of the day-to-day circumstances allowed them to feel comfortable with ambiguity. In acknowledging that tomorrow's style of work might look different than today's, they were able to better respond to hurdles as they arose.

Focusing on employee wellbeing and acknowledging the whole person.

Amid the disruption and hardships the pandemic wrought, these outstanding organizations have come to view each employee as a whole person, considering the demands of life inside and out of the workplace. Many organizations spent extra time identifying their associates' needs through the lens of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and age. This approach allowed organizations to understand if career paths and developmental opportunities were perceived as fair and equitable.

It's no surprise then that the GEWA winners consistently prioritize their employees' wellbeing. Last year, many organizations took action to reduce or remove the stigma sometimes associated with talking about mental health crises and be more proactive in connecting employees with resources before it's a crisis. Beyond being the right thing to do, supporting employee wellbeing is also beneficial to an organization's bottom line. Gallup has found there's typically a reciprocal relationship between engagement and wellbeing -- each influences the other, and they are also additive in predicting outcomes such as retention rates.

Tailoring communication to reach their teams where they are.

Consistently, our winners mentioned the importance of omnichannel communication and reaching employees where they are, sometimes in surprising ways -- Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, a company app. And because our winners made values-based, people-focused decisions, they delivered consistent messaging to employees and customers alike. This type of transparency builds trust among employees and customers.

Working in new ways meant establishing new rhythms of work. For example, many companies held virtual town halls that became regular channels of communication. Employees counted on the town halls to learn what was going on, understand the bigger picture and feel a sense of connectedness while working remotely. Other companies established virtual recognition channels, integrated breakout rooms with discussion questions after meetings to invite more casual conversations, and encouraged team members to join learn-at-lunch sessions with inspirational guest speakers.

Enabling managers to manage through times of change with their immediate teams.

Our winners also talked about providing managers with what they need to manage their people because it was the right thing to do -- not because they were considering profit and loss. These organizations empowered their front-line managers to individualize for their teams to meet their needs in real time. For example, some organizations issued regular pulse surveys to understand associates' needs and how they evolve over time, enhanced recognition programs, and implemented new ways to virtually coach team members and onboard new associates.

Mindful of some of the challenges of working in 2021, organizations offered targeted development -- sharing playbooks about how to manage teams remotely and hosting a learning series on the best ways to work with virtual teams. Consistently making human-centered, values-based decisions helped our GEWA winners reinforce the trust their people have in leadership, which enabled them to weather the unexpected challenges of 2021.

By embracing the human aspect of leadership and embodying company values in their decision-making, our 2022 GEWA winners steered their organizations through another year of disruption and achieved desired business outcomes.

2022 GEWA Winners by the Numbers

The engagement level among Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award winners is 70%, based on Q12 employee engagement surveys administered between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021. On average, these 41 world-class organizations have 14 engaged employees for every one actively disengaged employee -- 6.6 times the rate in the U.S. and 13.3 times the global average.

Exceptionally high levels of employee engagement allowed these organizations to adapt and adjust in response to the challenges last year held. Gallup's engagement meta-analysis found that top- and bottom-quartile business units and teams had the following differences in business outcomes:

  • 81% in absenteeism
  • 58% in patient safety incidents (mortality and falls)
  • 18% in turnover for high-turnover organizations
  • 43% in turnover for low-turnover organizations
  • 28% in shrinkage (theft)
  • 64% in safety incidents (accidents)
  • 41% in quality (defects)
  • 10% in customer loyalty/engagement
  • 18% in productivity (sales)
  • 23% in profitability

Congratulations to the 2022 Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award winners for their extraordinary achievements:

What makes Gallup's award criteria so rigorous?

The Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award criteria are more rigorous than other workplace awards. While many workplace awards only require a small sample of survey participants, we ask for every employee's opinions, and winners must achieve a qualifying score that places them in the top tier of organizations. Each company measures its employee engagement using Gallup's Q12 -- a survey that asks employees questions that tie to their performance, commitment to their organization and specific business metrics. Those organizations that meet the required criteria are among clients in Gallup's historical database including more than 43 million respondents and more than 5 million workgroups from 212 countries.

Applicants submit information about their strategy, leadership, performance, accountability, communication, knowledge management, development and ongoing learning. A panel of Gallup workplace scientists and experts evaluates applicants and assesses them against criteria established by the most comprehensive workplace study ever conducted. Applicants have to measure up to some of the most productive and profitable organizations in the world.

Learn more about the Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award criteria.

Gallup has studied successful businesses for decades. Learn what we know about becoming an exceptional place to work.




Jim Harter, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist, Workplace for Gallup and bestselling author of Culture Shock, Wellbeing at Work, It's the Manager, 12: The Elements of Great Managing and Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements. His research is also featured in the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller, First, Break All the Rules. Dr. Harter has led more than 1,000 studies of workplace effectiveness, including the largest ongoing meta-analysis of human potential and business-unit performance. His work has also appeared in many publications, including Harvard Business Review, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and in many prominent academic journals.

Kristi Rubenstein is the Senior Director of Gallup's Enterprise Consulting Group.

Denise McLain is a Subject Matter Expert and Senior Consultant at Gallup.

Jessica Schatz contributed to this article.

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