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April 12, 2021

Four Philly-area companies ranked among Fortune's top 100 places to work in 2021

Comcast NBCUniversal, credited for its pandemic response, jumped more than 40 spots

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Fortune Comcast Philly Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Fortune magazine ranked Philadelphia-based Comcast NBCUniversal the 21st best place to work in the United States in 2021. Three other Philly area companies made the rankings, too: SAP, Power Home Remodeling and Sheetz.

Work life in the United States and around the globe has shifted considerably under the pressures and constraints of the coronavirus pandemic. Many industries have been hammered, millions have been squeezed out of jobs and the office real estate sector remains suspended in a state of uncertainty.

Amid the unusually grim circumstances, Fortune has assembled its ranking of the top 100 places to work in the United States in 2021. This is the 23rd year the company has published these rankings, which rely on an annual workforce study and a survey given to more than half a million people. 

The survey is administered by Great Place to Work, a people analytics firm that offers a certification program and workplace culture surveys.

Four Philadelphia area companies retained their place on Fortune's list in 2021, with some shuffling of their positions.

In a typical year, Fortune assigns a score to a company primarily using confidential employee feedback and an analysis of essay responses that companies provide about their programs and practices.

For this year's rankings, Fortune still included this data but placed more weight on the actions companies took to respond to the challenges of the pandemic. The rankings also factored in more demographic data points and a closer look at HR practices and programs.

The top local company to make the list is Comcast NBCUniversal, which rocketed up to No. 21 from No. 64 last year. From Fortune's rankings:

The telecom giant, which employs more than 120,000 in the U.S., saw a surge in demand amid stay-at-home orders, as its Internet service became a primary means of interaction. Comcast’s media and entertainment arm, NBCUniversal, meanwhile, largely experienced a lull as movie theaters shuttered. The company responded to the shake-up with extra paid time off, reduced copays, and retraining—for example, some retail staff pivoted to call center work—and by helping more Americans access the web. One major initiative was the creation of 1,000 new Wi-Fi–connected “Lift Zones” in local communities, while others included waiving two months’ worth of fees for new low-income customers and expanding hotspot access to noncustomers.

The next local company on the list is Newtown Township, Delaware County-based SAP America, an IT company that climbed up to No. 29, improving on last year's ranking of No. 59.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SAP lowered the thresholds for those eligible for bonuses and continued hourly and contract employees even if there had been disruptions to their projects. The U.S. branch of the European company also started the "Are you okay?" initiative to provide on-demand mental health resources, and in June, when the social justice movement began, SAP created an action plan to support equality organizations and assist Black-owned businesses.

Power Home Remodeling, based in Chester, Delaware County, fell from No. 50 to No. 70 on 2021 list. The company is known for its millennial workforce and received praise from employees for how it navigated COVID-19:

Power Home Remodeling Group inspired confidence in employees during the uncertain and nerve-racking early days of COVID. The company continued to pay workers until the first stimulus was passed, then shifted them to furlough, because they would make more money on enhanced unemployment. The company kept its promise to bring its staff back and now has 100% of its employees returned to work. "If there is one thing that shows what a great place to work this is, it is management’s handling of the pandemic," writes an employee.

The last company in the region to make Fortune's list is convenience-store chain Sheetz, which came in at No. 83, falling three spots from last year's rankings:

Sheetz encouraged employees to stay home if they felt sick or were high risk — and gave an additional $3.00 per hour to those who continued to work on the front lines. "They have treated us like family," says an employee. And while touch screen menus have become commonplace, Sheetz debuted its version way back in 1989. The Kidz Meal Bagz program provided 346,000 free meals for children across the Sheetz operating area.

Below are Fortune's top 10 places to work in 2021.

1. Cisco — San Jose, California
2. Salesforce — San Francisco, California
3. Hilton — McLean, Virginia
4. Wegmans Food Markets — Rochester, New York
5. Rocket Companies — Detroit, Michigan
6. UKG — Westin, Florida and Lowell, Massachusetts
7. Texas Health Resources — Arlington, Texas
8. Camden Property Trust — Houston, Texas
9. Captial One Financial — McLean, Virginia
10. American Express — New York, New York

"These companies managed not just to muddle through, but to become role models," Fortune said. "The takeaway seems clear: Businesses that treat employees well during the toughest of times will attract talent, even when the war for talent heats up."