When you think about what makes a company appealing to prospective employees, you might point to benefit packages, salary ranges, workplace perks and company culture. But there’s something that can be still more impactful than free lunches, generous PTO and — yes — even those foosball tables in the break room: the company’s management style.
Not only can a manager’s approach potentially shape an employee’s career trajectory, but it plays a huge role in whether that person dreads coming to work each day or looks forward to it.
Humans and human organizations are complex, and so are approaches to management. According to consulting firm Hay/McBer there are six different management styles, although others have narrowed the possibilities down to two broad approaches. And new trends are always emerging.
But whether it’s Steve Jobs’ sky-high expectations and demands for perfection or Warren Buffet’s more democratic, "laissez-faire" approach, management styles — especially those of an influential company leader — tend to trickle down to all levels of leadership and shape the culture of the organization.
We wanted to learn which companies have the very best management approaches, according to the people being managed. So our data science team examined the 15 million employee reviews in our database and crunched the numbers on management to find out the answers. Here's what we found.
Finance and Real Estate Rule the Top Fifteen
So who places first for management? In fact, it's tax preparation giant H&R Block—no doubt reassuring news for those who trust the firm to calculate their tax returns for the IRS each year.
Companies associated with finance, tax preparation and real estate have a strong presence in top ten. H&R Block is not the only firm that helps guide Americans through their regular check-in with the IRS: Liberty Tax Service places #6 and Jackson Hewitt places #8.
For many people, their home is their biggest investment and we see firms associated with buying and selling property also perform strongly when it comes to management. Mortgage lender Network Capital places second, while real estate firms Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and RE/MAX hold the third, fourth and tenth spots respectively.
In fact, our results affirm the classic image of firms handling investments and large sums of money: that they should be (and are) well-organized and well-managed.
However, we also see some non-profits giving the worlds of finance, loans and tax returns a run for their money. Just like companies that answer to shareholders and investors, nonprofits today can be large, complex organizations. Quality of management is critical to success or failure, and it matters to employees. And so we see Indeed’s overall best reviewed nonprofit Habitat for Humanity placing seventh, while Boys + Girls Club of America ranks even higher, landing at #5.
Interestingly, glamorous tech firms are largely absent from the top 10, although Apple lands at #9. Meanwhile, we see healthcare employer Kaiser Permanente, consumer goods firms NIKE and VANS, finance firm Northwestern Mutual and the YMCA landing just outside the top 10.
While it’s helpful to understand which companies are leading the way in management ratings, it’s even more useful to take a look at the management styles and approaches these leading organizations use.
So let’s take a deeper dive and into our employee reviews to understand how managers of the top five companies stand out from the competition.
The Best of the Best: What They’re Doing Right
1. H&R Block
HQ: Kansas City, Missouri
No. of employees: 10,000+
Offering services like business consulting, tax software and more, H&R Block draws from its experience of preparing more than 500 million tax returns to help its customers get through tax season each year.
So how did the company earn the number one spot in our management ratings? By fostering a management style that’s accessible, hands-on and accommodating to various employee schedules.
“Senior management and culture is good at listening,” says one employee.
Another employee notes how easy it is to form relationships with her more seasoned colleagues.
“We typically ordered lunch every day around the same time and the office manager would frequently buy lunch for everyone on Fridays,” she says, pointing out that upper management is involved with employees at various levels.
And this level of interaction and accessibility makes a difference.
“I can't express enough how much I love this company,” the employee adds.
HQ: Irvine, California
No. of employees: 501 -1,000
Providing mortgages with competitive rates and low costs, all while delivering exceptional customer service, Network Capital Funding Corporation strives to make the mortgage process simple for its customers.
“Being a mortgage banker is the definition of grinding and working hard,” one employee notes. “The management and the team culture make it fun to put in the work though, and you are recognized for putting in the effort and producing effectively.”
Just what is the management doing to give its employees that added motivation? Employees say it’s a combination of tough love and positivity.
“[The] management is very supportive and consistently driving to make you feel comfortable while pushing you to always be better,” another employee says.
HQ: Madison, New Jersey
No. of employees: 10,000+
Coldwell Banker has the distinction of being the oldest residential real estate franchise system in the nation. And with the depth of knowledge and experience that comes with being around for so long, it’s no surprise that this company’s management is committed to sharing that knowledge with employees.
“Management was eager to teach and direct you to any information you might need,” says an employee.
Another employee echos that sentiment, saying “management has been extremely motivating and enjoys teaching new agents how to be successful. I have really enjoyed my time with this company.”
HQ: Atlanta, Georgia
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America work to help young people - especially those at-risk - reach their full potential. Likewise, the company’s managers - which one employee calls “impeccable, professional and agreeable to work with” - are known for helping their employees learn, grow, develop in their careers.
“[They] are helpful and want you to learn from your mistakes,” says one employee, who appreciated having managers that were easy to talk to and flexible with scheduling.
“The management of BGC is very good and they set rules that are fair and achievable,” another employee adds.
5. Century 21
HQ: Madison, New Jersey
No. of employees: 10,000+
Century 21 is a real estate franchise company that operates in more than 74 countries around the world. And while the company has tens of thousands of independently owned and operated offices, managers across the company’s many locations are focused on helping employees find balance.
“The hardest part of the job can be juggling multiple priorities, but management is always available to help manage workloads,” an employee says.
Another employee appreciates the way team members and leadership work together to find strategies for managing their busy schedules.
“There is a great group of Realtors and everyone is willing to help one another. I would not call it management, but rather refer to it as exceptional leadership.”
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