Like it or not, coronavirus is the defining issue of 2020. No question about it.
But that wasn’t the case for businesses deemed nonessential under government stay-at-home orders or service sectors that found it impractical for employees to socially distance from customers. Thus, many workers in retail, hospitality, restaurants and home remodeling joined the ranks of the unemployed.
Not even Top Workplaces 2020 winners were spared.
Great American Restaurants and Power Home Remodeling were among the Top Workplaces firms hit hard by the economic fallout from the pandemic. Great American Restaurants, which operates 12 eateries mainly in Northern Virginia, laid off 1,700 before bringing back 1,000 in May. Power Home Remodeling furloughed 2,200 people — representing 85 percent of its workforce.
“Employee engagement” — the level to which workers are devoted to their jobs based on their opportunity for advancement and how they are treated — was a main factor in why the more than 120,000 staffers gave their organizations high marks when they were surveyed for the competition in late 2019 and early 2020.
But what happens to morale in tough times when an employee is furloughed?
Power Home Remodeling, which operates in the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and South, attempted to maintain connection with furloughed employees through weekly virtual town halls providing updates on the business; mental and physical wellness programs; a speaker series targeting veterans and women; and even talent shows.
“The corporate content was such a success that our people then took the initiative to create their own local content to help them stay connected with their office,” Asher Raphael, Power Home Remodeling’s co-CEO, wrote in an email. “Furloughed employees voluntarily hosted events such as spelling bees, cooking shows, trivia contests, and masterclasses.”
The company produced an elaborate virtual “Power’s Got Talent” contest — a mashup of “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice.” The show featured contestants advancing through several rounds in April and May, with three judges in purple chairs offering brutally honest critiques — and live voting by hundreds of colleagues around the country.
Contestant Blessedness Onaiwu, a customer development mentor in Dallas who was furloughed in April then brought back in early June, had stiff competition, including a classic rock singer and a chainsaw and fire-torch juggler. But he won the grand prize of $1,000 with his saxophone and rap performance.
As an added bonus, he said, the show connected him in an on-screen virtual meeting with his idol, instrumentalist/vocalist Youngr.
The people at “Power were just so receiving and welcoming and they loved everything I put out” musically, said Onaiwu, 23. “They really care about their people and they show it . . . They really care about you personally.”
To determine whether they were successfully reaching their furloughed workers, Power officials hired Energage, the same company that conducted the Top Workplaces survey, to poll them.
According to Energage, 98 percent of respondents said they felt Power leadership has been accessible to them during the furlough; 96 percent said they felt supported during the crisis; and 95 percent said they are enthusiastic about returning to the company.
“If companies demonstrate they cared about their people before the furlough and continue to demonstrate that they care consistently throughout the furlough period, they are pleasantly surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response they receive when they seek feedback,” Doug Claffey, Energage’s founder, wrote in an email. “Those who have been nurturing a people-centered culture prior to this pandemic are in a better position to navigate it and come back strong as the worst of it passes.”
For The Washington Post’s Top Workplaces team, 2020 also is the first time in our seven-year history we had to postpone the annual late-June gala and magazine.
But not everything in 2020 was gloomy: Interest in the competition reached new heights this year. The more than 120,000 employees surveyed in the Washington area represent a record high for The Post. The figure also surpasses the number of employees surveyed at the dozens of other media organizations around the country involved in the Top Workplaces program.
As a result, The Post has expanded the list of winners from 150 to 200.
Moreover, we added a fourth category. The size categories are small, midsize, large and now largest. We added the new category to accommodate the increase of winners from organizations with 999 and more employees.
Here is the alphabetized list of 200 winners for 2020. Stay tuned for the ranked list — which will include the top three winners in all four categories — to be unveiled in October.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld (law firm)
CACI International Inc.
Capital One Financial Corp.
Cushman & Wakefield (commercial real estate)
Jim Koons Automotive
The Bozzuto Group
Century 21 New Millennium
Chenega MIOS (Military Intelligence and Operational Support)
EAB (education technology and consulting)
Great American Restaurants
HITT Contracting Inc.
John Snow Inc. (public health research and consulting)
Lincoln Property Co.
Mary’s Center and Briya Public Charter School
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Northwest Federal Credit Union
Panda Restaurant Group
REI Systems Inc.
Sandy Spring Bank
Science Systems & Applications Inc.
Systems Planning and Analysis Inc.
Tenable Inc. (information technology)
The Emmes Company (health research)
The MIL Corp. (services to the federal government)
Van Metre Companies
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr (law firm)
Acclaim Technical Services Inc.
AEM Corp. (information technology)
Aledade Inc. (health care)
Alpha Omega Integration
Alston & Bird (law firm)
Aronson (tax and consulting firm)
Array Information Technology
Bates White Economic Consulting
Buckley (law firm)
CapTech Ventures Inc.
Chaney Enterprises (construction supply)
Coalfire Systems Inc
Community of Hope
Compass (real estate)
Cotton & Company
Credence Management Solutions
DELTA Resources Inc.
Dev Technology Group Inc.
Eagle Hill Consulting
Easterns Automotive Group
Equinix (data center)
Exit Flagship Realty
Fors Marsh Group
FTS International (federal government contractor)
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
Industry Dive (business journalism)
Iron Bow Technologies (IT provider)
Kelley Drye & Warren (law firm)
Legend Management Group
Markon Solutions (professional services)
Metropolitan Hospitality Group
MicroPact, a division of Tyler Technologies
Na Ali’i Consulting & Sales
National Cooperative Bank
NetImpact Strategies Inc.
Optoro (retail returns technology)
Perkins Coie (law firm)
Power Home Remodeling Group
Praxis Engineering Technologies
Premium Distributors of Virginia
Premium Distributors of Washington DC/Maryland
Promontory Interfinancial Network
Pyramid Systems Inc. (digital technology)
Sayres and Associates Corp.
Share Our Strength
SMS Data Products Group Inc.
Sofitel Washington DC
Steampunk Inc. (government contracting)
Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox (law firm)
Tantus Technologies, Inc.
Thompson Creek Window Co.
Thomson Reuters Special Services
T-Rex Solutions (IT technology)
United Therapeutics Corp.
VIPdesk Connect. Inc
Walker & Dunlop (commercial real estate)
Zenetex (management and technology support)
A.J. Dwoskin & Associates (property management)
Academic Travel Abroad
AM Pierce & Associates (engineering and research)
American Gas Association
American Health Care Association
ARG Inc. (IT solutions)
Assured Consulting Solutions
Bark + Boarding
Basic Commerce & Industries
Blake Real Estate Inc.
Cassaday & Company Inc. (financial advisers)
Cavan Solutions (aviation consulting)
Cobec Consulting Inc.
Comstock Holding Companies Inc.
Crosby Marketing Communications
Crown Consulting Inc.
CTIA (representing wireless communications industry )
Cybrary (cybersecurity education/IT)
Dark Wolf Solutions (technology services))
DivvyCloud (cloud computing)
Dynamic Integrated Services
Edgewater Federal Solutions Inc
Electrosoft Services Inc.
ERP International (health care, scientific and technical staffing)
Evans Inc. (management consulting)
Expel (security monitoring)
FCP (real estate)
First Heritage Mortgage
FitzGerald Financial Group
FMP Consulting (Federal Management Partners)
Group W Inc,
Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis (law firm)
HawkEye 360 (data analytics)
Human Resources Research Organization
IntelliGenesis (information technology)
iWorks Corp. (information technology)
JRC Integrated Systems Inc. (engineering)
Kforce (employment recruiting)
Mark G. Anderson Consultants Inc.
MassMutual Greater Washington
Navitas Business Consulting Inc.
New Editions Consulting Inc.
Next Century Corp.
Nutanix (cloud services)
NuWave Solutions (technology)
Personnel Decisions Research Institutes
Plus3 IT Systems
Quevera (software engineering services)
Rand Construction Corp.
RoosterBio Inc. (medical technology)
Savills (real estate)
Simply Fresh Events (catering)
Sparks Group (staffing and recruitment)
Studio Bleu Dance Center
Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros & Blayney (law firm)
TCG Inc. (consulting)
ThunderCat Technology (cybersecurity, infrastructure)
Titania Solutions Group (information technology)
Upside Business Travel
Virginia Spine Institute
Volanno (software development)