A remote company’s account of applying and being selected as a “Top 100 Business to Work for in Oregon”
For the second year in a row, Cascade Insights has been selected as one of Oregon Business’ 2022 Top 100 Businesses to Work for in Oregon.
We’re thrilled to be recognized for creating a work culture that is valued and loved by our employees. We are also excited by the opportunity that this recognition presents to share some behind-the-scenes insight with companies on how to land a spot on a similar award list.
As a 100% virtual company that recently went through the process of applying and being selected for this award, here’s a compilation of what we’ve learned. We’ll share with you how to apply for a workplace award and the benefits of being selected. Additionally, we’ll give an insider’s perspective on how the added complexity of today’s remote and hybrid workforce can also factor into the process.
An Insider’s Look: How To Apply
Have you ever wondered how a company lands on the “best places to work” list? Is it just the writer or editor’s opinion? Do they assign a group of people to go out and research? Do workers need to nominate their organization?
In most cases, a company actually has to apply to be considered for these lists. Different types of awards have different types of application processes. Based on what the process was like for us to be featured on the Top 100 Businesses to Work for in Oregon, here are the steps you can expect to take.
To be considered for an award, the first step is typically to submit an application. You can do this by filling out basic company information through the digital award link. They may ask things like yearly revenue totals, names of CEOs, the industry you work in, and more.
The next step is to answer a series of questions about your company. These (usually open-ended questions) could be, “Tell us how your company puts culture first” or “What management ideas does the company practice that set you apart from your competition?”.
After those initial steps, you’ll wait anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to see if you fit their award criteria. If you do, you’ll be asked to submit revenue verification forms, usually from the past 2-3 years. For the awards we’ve applied for this year, we’ve provided revenue verification from 2018-2021. You’ll also be asked to complete an employee survey.
If you were selected to move on, the next step is to reach out to all staff members with a link to submit the anonymous employee survey. The administrator will not have the ability to see who has completed the surveys and what their answers are. The surveys are always voluntary.
This part may take a bit of effort in ensuring enough respondents submit a survey to be considered. That may involve socializing with employees why this award is important and why it matters for them to fill out the survey. It may take multiple rounds of communication, coming from different leaders in the organization, to make sure you’re able to gather enough respondents.
At the same time, no one should ever feel pressured to submit the survey or to answer the survey questions in a certain way. It’s just about communicating the importance and conveying to employees why they would want to submit the survey.
After submitting the surveys, you’ll wait to be contacted. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to hear whether you have been selected.
So…Is It Worth It?
The application process to get on award lists can be daunting, which begs the question: Why would anyone want to even apply to these awards in the first place, and is it a worthwhile initiative?
The short answer is yes, being included on the right types of award lists is advantageous for a few reasons. First, inclusion on these lists helps to attract the best talent. Particularly if you appear as a regular year after year, employees in your industry will take notice and keep that in mind when you have a job opening.
Furthermore, these types of awards will typically come with a logo that you can use on your website as a way to establish credibility. You can also use them right on open job postings sites as well.
Besides attracting future job applicants, the exposure generated by appearing on these types of awards lists helps to boost your general brand awareness and perception with potential customers and industry contacts. It also helps influencers in the industry to look deeper into the products or solutions that your company offers. All of this increases mindshare so that when customers are ready to engage, your company is top of mind.
Being selected for these awards can also help with your company’s SEO strategy by providing backlinks to other external, reputable websites. It’s routine for these award lists to link out to each winner’s website in their results. That helps Google to recognize your company as a trustworthy and legitimate search result, improving your own online presence.
Sometimes, awards also go on to provide internal benefits within your company. For example, the last survey we took shared the quantitative and qualitative responses from the employee survey (anonymously) with us. So instead of having to send our own surveys as a way to gauge employee satisfaction, we could just use the insights provided from the survey to consider potential changes based on that feedback.
Keep In Mind: Not All Workplace Awards Are Created Equal
It’s important to do some background research to determine that the award in question is worth applying for. Some lesser-known awards may not be established or credible enough to be beneficial. However, more esteemed and respected awards can provide tons of benefits both externally and internally for companies.
To ensure the award we’re considering applying for is from a reputable source, we’ll first do some initial research. We’ll check the company’s name, their longevity, and past recipients, among other factors.
Then, we check the domain authority of the website that gives the award. The higher the domain authority, the more beneficial their backlink will be for us. Likely, higher domain authorities often mean higher credibility as well.
Finally, we’ll look a little deeper into ensuring that the award aligns with our goals. For example, we recently decided to turn down applying for a market research award that was specifically in healthcare. Since our service offerings span far beyond just the healthcare industry, we felt that it wasn’t a perfect match.
Overall, doing a little research upfront will ensure a worthwhile venture for you in the long run.
Adapting Awards to a Remote Workforce
After more than two years since the start of the pandemic, about six in ten workers who are able to do their jobs remotely are working from home.
At Cascade Insights, we are a part of that majority group, operating with a 100% remote workforce. As a virtual company, we have become particularly aware of how this status can impact the awards application process.
We’ve noticed that some awards have been slower to adapt their format to address this change than others. Although most awards invite virtual companies to participate, there are often at least a few questions in their surveys that aren’t 100% applicable to the remote workforce.
For example, one award we applied for placed a strong emphasis on sustainability and green initiatives. These kinds of questions, if we all worked in an office, would be relatively straightforward to answer. Respondents could comment on recycling policies for office supplies, policies for how food waste is handled, etc. When all employees work in a remote setting, however, these questions can lead to some confusion. Should respondents just ignore these questions since they don’t necessarily apply? Or should they answer in terms of their recycling and sustainability practices at home? We found there was a need for clearer questioning directed at those who were employed virtually.
Survey questions regarding workplace culture can be another gray area for remote employees. Many of the questions concerning this subject are geared toward activities and community within an office environment. Not being in that kind of setting can make it difficult to answer those questions. Adding in more specific questions geared directly toward remote workers would eliminate a lot of that confusion. For example, questions like “How does your employer encourage a balance of screen time with other work?” would help to more accurately reflect the workplace culture of remote employees.
Moving forward, we see an opportunity for these awards to start adding questions that tackle the reality that so many companies are remote or hybrid these days. Failure to ask questions that tackle this shift is a big missed opportunity.
The Final Recap
Although time-consuming, the process of applying for the right award is a worthwhile effort. If selected, your inclusion on awards lists can help to attract the best talent, increase brand awareness, improve your company’s reputation, and more.
At the same time, we do see an opportunity for many of these awards to include questions that address some of the remote and hybrid workplace issues that are commonplace today. With hybrid and remote work structures now regarded as the norm, it’s time to update these surveys to reflect the work models of the present and of the future.
This article is brought to you by Cascade Insights, a firm that provides market research & marketing services exclusively to organizations with B2B tech sector initiatives. Learn more about how we help companies seize opportunities in the B2B tech sector here.