Healthcare lost ground (again) on the 2012 ‘Fortune Best Companies’ list: Should we care?

Fortune magazine recently published its 100 Best Companies to Work For list for 2012.  This year’s list included 11 healthcare provider organizations, one less than last year and three less than the peak in 2010.  For the first time since 2005, no new healthcare providers made the list; the average provider continuing on the list from 2011 dropped 5 slots.  The highest ranking among healthcare providers has also been slipping since 2006, when Griffin Hospital topped the list at #4.  In 2007-2011 Methodist Hospital topped the providers list at #9, #10, #8, and then #17 and #19, sequentially.  This year Southern Ohio Medical Center took the top position at #36.

Should we care?  Given the scope of change healthcare providers are facing of late, it is awfully tempting to write off the two-year slide to having ‘bigger fish to fry’ than worrying about being the best place to work.  After all, at the end of the day, what’s in an award?

In the for-profit world, the answer is relatively clear.  Independent academic researchers have found significant associations between appearance on the list and subsequent organizational outcomes such as sales, gross profit margin, and return on assets.

These types of effects haven’t been as well documented in healthcare, but they are likely to be at least as compelling.  One of the main positive outcomes HR leaders report they have seen from the ‘Best Companies’ recognition is attractiveness to new employees, as measured by applicant volume.  And there is substantial evidence that more effective recruiting, coupled with lower turnover (one of the criteria measured by the Best Companies recognition), together yield higher organizational performance in healthcare and non-healthcare organizations alike.

Although the Fortune list of healthcare providers is too small for statistically meaningful analysis, it is large enough to at least hint at the power of the relationship between people practices and healthcare outcomes.   In collaboration with the Rush Patient Experience Research Initiative, we linked the Fortune Best Companies list to value-based purchasing data compiled by the American Hospital Association.  We found that process-of-care raw scores among the Fortune-ranked providers were 10 points higher than their non-ranked peers (48 vs. 38, respectively), and experience-of-care measures were 7 points higher (42 vs. 35).  We found this effect without using statistical controls of any kind; providing these should only make the results stronger.

A final note: even a cursory review of the Great Places to Work survey reveals that the criteria depend heavily on measures of employees’ trust in their employers.

I hope the above serves to keep us alert to the loss of ground on this list, and curious as to its cause.

About Andrew Garman

Chief Executive Officer, NCHL; Professor, Health Systems Management Department, Rush University

One response to “Healthcare lost ground (again) on the 2012 ‘Fortune Best Companies’ list: Should we care?”

  1. zak says :


    please could you please send me a link or full title of the study at Rush you describe?

    Thank You


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