Glassdoor lists the highest-rated CEOs during COVID

If you want flexibility, transparency, and decent health policies, it seems like working in tech pays off.

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Credit: Peshkova/Shutterstock
  • The website Glassdoor has released their rankings of the top CEOs and companies to work for during the pandemic.
  • The rankings were based on a study of reviews placed on their website by employees which mentioned COVID or CEO performance.
  • The study isn't quite definitive, but offers an insight into what employees want during times of crisis.

The last time humanity faced an airborne pandemic was during the 2009 swine flu outbreak. It was a relatively mild one; it had a low death rate and reproduction number just above that of the seasonal flu. To find a globe-spanning, airborne pandemic of a more intense nature, one has to look back to the Hong Kong Flu of 1968.

With so much time between today and that pandemic, it is little wonder that some people outside the health care field were unprepared to deal with COVID-19. Despite this, many serious attempts were made by institutions, both public and private, to make it possible to remain safe while also still working and living with some degree of normalcy. The results have been mixed.

In an attempt to gauge how different companies did, the employer review website Glassdoor analyzed reviews of large companies' leadership during the pandemic. Their list of the top 25 employers in the United States and the top 10 in the United Kingdom offers a glimpse at what employees wanted from corporate leadership during the crisis, and who managed to provide it.

How to succeed in business when times are very trying

The survey considered recently submitted reviews about working for large companies that also included assessments of their leadership. Only reviews left between March 1 and July 31 were considered, with particular attention paid to high-quality reviews that focused on leadership's actions during the pandemic. Using these reviews, a scoring system was created to rank the companies and order them.

A quick review of the top companies shows about a third of them are in tech, with representatives from the world of finance, health care, and insurance also making appearances. Among the top-scoring companies was Zoom Communications and its CEO Eric Yuan, the company behind the video calling application that many people have recently turned to. The highest scoring company was Mercury Systems, an aerospace and defense technology company, and its CEO Mark Aslett.

The top ten:

  1. Mark Aslett — Mercury Systems
  2. G. Brint Ryan — Ryan, LLC
  3. Michael Weinstein — AIDS Healthcare Foundation
  4. Eric S. Yuan — Zoom Video Communications
  5. Stanley Middleman — Freedom Mortgage
  6. Aaron Levie —Box
  7. Corey Schiller & Asher Raphael — Power Home Remodeling
  8. Ben Salzmann — Acuity Insurance
  9. Jim Kavanaugh — World Wide Technology
  10. Michael Schall — Essex Property Trust

Few, if any, of the CEOs on the list are well known to the casual reader. The most famous is undoubtedly Mark Zuckerberg, who came in eighth on the list of UK employers. Only one woman made the list at all (BrightStar Care's Shelley Sun at number 17), perhaps reflecting the low percentage of large companies helmed by women. Likewise, only a handful of non-white men were to be found either, likely for similar reasons.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Glassdoor's Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain explained that the reviews suggest that many of the top-rated companies shared "clear and transparent communication with employees about what is going on during a pandemic. Second, providing flexibility: work from home, giving workers the tools they need to keep doing their jobs. And third, polices that support health and safety of employees first."

A glance at the reviews used to compile the study supports this view, with many explicitly praising commitments to transparency and flexibility.

And now, the grains of salt

This survey considered only companies with more than 1,000 employees at the end of the review period, leaving out many excellently run but smaller operations. Of these larger enterprises, only those with more than 50 upper management (25 for firms based in the UK) were analyzed. Reviews made by interns were not counted towards this minimum. Companies that performed well, but with employees who didn't feel the need to write reviews of their employer on the internet, were left out of the running.

Despite these limitations, the study does offer an insight into what employees wanted from corporate leadership during the pandemic and who could provide it. Companies hoping to do better during the next public health crisis would do well to consider the choices made by these executives. Those looking for greener pastures might also consider applying to work at these places.

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.


Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

Learn the Netflix model of high-performing teams

Erin Meyer explains the keeper test and how it can make or break a team.

  • There are numerous strategies for building and maintaining a high-performing team, but unfortunately they are not plug-and-play. What works for some companies will not necessarily work for others. Erin Meyer, co-author of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, shares one alternative employed by one of the largest tech and media services companies in the world.
  • Instead of the 'Rank and Yank' method once used by GE, Meyer explains how Netflix managers use the 'keeper test' to determine if employees are crucial pieces of the larger team and are worth fighting to keep.
  • "An individual performance problem is a systemic problem that impacts the entire team," she says. This is a valuable lesson that could determine whether the team fails or whether an organization advances to the next level.
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Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
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