In 2018, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) launched the U.S. Economic Mobility and Opportunity (EMO) strategy with a goal of increasing upward mobility from poverty over the next decade. The EMO strategy has a focus population of the 47 million people in the U.S. ages 16 to 64 whose annual incomes are below 200% of the federal poverty level, in 2022, this translated to $27,180 for an individual and $55,500 for a family of four. One core objective of this strategy is to increase opportunity for low-mobility workers by improving access to quality jobs. The Department of Labor and the Good Jobs Champion Group have identified Good Jobs Principles. BMGF's EMO strategy seeks to learn from businesses implementing these Good Jobs Principles, specifically regarding stable and family-sustaining pay, wealth-building opportunities, paid training opportunities, and safe, healthy, and accessible working conditions. The START research team was asked to develop 4 case studies, celebrating businesses leading the way on Good Jobs Principles, sharing their practices and process in implementing these practices, and attempting to understand the impact of these practices on both employee and business well-being.
Through a review of common business websites and BMGF connections in industry, 34 companies were identified as potential exemplars. Ultimately, 4 companies were selected as business exemplars of Good Jobs.
MOD Pizza highlights the Good Job Principle of pay. MOD has a goal of providing a fair wage, meaning that they exceed the local minimum wage and aim for the 50th percentile. MOD conducts surveys and analyzes industry benchmarks at a granular level, including considering zip codes to ensure consistency across their markets. MOD also conducts pay adjustments twice a year and offers a record expungement program. Compared to industry rates of 200%, MOD's turnover rate is around 100%.
Sunland Home Care highlights the Good Job Principle of worker conditions. Employees receive paid orientation and training, in-home trainings with a mentor prior to first client assignment, paid lunchtime feedback sessions, weekly pay, flexible hours and scheduling, and employee club tiers based on hours worked. Compared to the industry average of 80% attrition, Sunland Home Care has a higher retention rate with 40%-60% attrition.
Like MOD Pizza, Marlin Steel Wire highlights the Good Job Principle of pay. Based in Baltimore, MD, they company started with 9 employees and has now acquired additional assets in Indiana and Michigan. For their Michigan factory the starting wage will be $20.50/hour, comparatively, the three biggest employers in the area pay $15.50/hr. They offer 100% tuition reimbursement for higher education and professional certifications, and provides a 401K program with matching up to 4%. Marlin's attrition rate is less than 10% and many employees have been there for 20-30 years.
Costco highlights the Good Job Principle of training and development. Costco believes that training is a fundamental job responsibility for managers. Jim Sinegal, the founding CEO, has said that “If a manager doesn’t understand that 90% of their job is teaching, then they don’t understand their job” and that “First and foremost, managers are teachers.” Costco offers many training and development programs. As a result, 90% of officers in the companies are promoted from within, and >90% of general managers in their 850 warehouses started as hourly workers. Over 60% of U.S. employees have five or more years with Costco, and over one-third have more than 10 years. Costco conducts an annual global employee engagement survey to obtain feedback concerning ethics, compliance, and engagement. The survey has had a significant participation rate of 75% and indicates a high level of satisfaction by employees with their work environment.
The central concept across these 4 exemplars is that leaders of companies, large and small, need to be steadfast in their sense of responsibility to their employees. Leadership should have a strong mission and personal commitment to their vision for the company. Good Jobs policies and practices need to be continuously improved upon and should not be stagnant. Companies should exercise more than one Good Job Principle, as it's not just a singular practice that makes the difference in creating a Good Job.