older adults and caregivers flying kites

Baltimore-based Brightview Senior Living has become the first senior living company to land a spot on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. The list was announced Monday.

Ranked at 92 on the Fortune and Great Place to Work list, Brightview, which owns and operates 42 senior living communities across eight states, also was the only senior living company on the national lists of 2019 Best Workplaces for Women released by Fortune and Great Place to Work.

Brightview CEO Marilynn Duker told McKnight’s Senior Living that the senior living company’s core values and culture center on being a great place to work, which feeds into its communities being great places to live.

“Culture is not what you say or hope,” Duker said. “We worked really hard to make sure at all 42 of our open communities and our home office that our associates come first. To have it culminate in this recognition, among the top 100 companies in the entire country, is an incredible honor.”

Brightview President Doug Dollenberg said that Brightview spent a lot of time talking with its managers at all levels about the importance of culture and engaging and empowering its 4,700 employees to find out what they need to feel successful and satisfied at work.

The company’s core values, Duker said, start with job descriptions and carry over into the interview and selection process. Those values, she said, are embedded in all onboarding, training and annual performance reviews. 

“It’s not a ‘one-and-done’ kind of thing. It’s deeply embedded in every aspect of our company,” she said. 

When the pandemic hit 13 months ago, Dollenberg said that it was evident that it was going to present a challenge, so the company adopted a “people first” focus. That focus meant staffing up, offering premium pay, setting up food pantries for workers, providing free meals and more. Leaders heard from many employees that the safest place they felt during the pandemic was in a Brightview community, he said.

“If you go back to the early days of the pandemic, it was scary for frontline teams and folks in the communities,” Dollenberg said. “There were so many unknowns, but they believed we had their back.”

For the Best 100 Companies to Work For survey, employees responded to more than 60 questions; 85% of the evaluation was based on what employees reported about their experiences of trust and reaching their full human potential as part of their organization. The list also considered employees’ daily experiences of the company’s values, the ability to contribute new ideas, and leadership effectiveness.

According to the survey, 89% of Brightview employees said that the company is a great place to work, compared with 59% of employees at a typical U.S.-based company, according to Great Place to Work. Also according to the survey, 94% of Brightview employees reported feeling welcome, 93% felt good about the ways employees contribute to the community, 92% felt a sense of pride, 91% reported feeling that they make a difference, and 91% reported that “my work has special meaning: this is not just a job.”

“When we reflect on this, it’s all about pride for what we’re accomplishing as an organization, and we have immense gratitude for our team. That’s what makes it happen,” Dollenberg said. “The team of 4,700 people which brings our culture to life and makes Brightview a great place to work and, in turn, a great place to live.”

Dollenberg added that he hopes that this ranking is good for the industry after a year of negative attention.

“There are a lot of amazing companies doing great work in the senior living industry,” he said. “I hope this gives the right perspective on senior living.”

Brightview also topped the list of large senior living and care employers on Fortune’s list of Best Workplaces for Aging Services for 2020 and 2019.