By Natalie Lyda and Jacquelyn Kung

This year’s top recognition goes to an assisted living provider with 42 communities peppered throughout the Northeast . . . Can you guess who?

Another clue: they are quietly making waves as a female-led organization with outstanding employee engagement. 

So . . . who is it?

Drumroll please . . .

None other than Brightview Senior Living! 

You heard that right: Brightview has claimed the #1 spot on the Fortune 2019 Best Workplaces for Aging Services List of larger senior housing and care providers. 

Great Place to Work surveyed nearly a quarter-million senior care employees across 3,000+ senior care provider locations. So, you betcha, this was a hard feat to rank as Fortune’s #1 company!

For the super detail-oriented, note that Fortune’s 50 Best Workplaces in Aging Services is split into 3 categories: 20 winners of the large senior housing category (defined as 1000+ employees), 20 small/medium senior housing winners (<1000 employees) and 10 at-home care winners.

Brightview: Who Are They?

With independent living, assisted living and enhanced care options, Brightview Senior Living was founded 20 years ago and previously was part of the Shelter Group.

Brightview’s CEO Marilynn K. Duker is known throughout the organization for her belief that a good culture is the key to overall success. 

“Our product is our people,” Marilynn told us in a recent interview. “If you are a great place to work, you’re more likely to be a great place to live, and if you’re a great place to live, financial success of the company will naturally follow.”

This statement, of course, begs the question: what makes Brightview the best workplace in aging services this year?

First, Opportunities for Career Growth

In today’s tight labor market, Brightview wants employees to stay, and offers opportunities for growth at all levels. 

One employee shouted in their comment that the company offers “GREAT GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES”, while another shared that “Management encourages the workers’ personal growth and professional advancement. Striving to better educate and enable us to perform at peak capabilities”.

With opportunities for robust Individual Development Plans, associates are given achievable career paths and mentors to help them along the way.

Secondly, They Welcome the Heck Out of You

94% of Brightview employees surveyed said that when people join the company, they’re made to feel welcome. 

The proof is in the pudding, as one employee comment highlighted. They treat you not only as a plain old associate but they welcome you in as a family.” 

“I recently had a family illness emergency which caused me to unexpectedly be out of the office for two weeks with just 24-hours notice. I was worried about my job for just a minute and then remembered that I work for a great team and a great company where my job was secure despite having to be away. My family is well now and I returned to work welcomed with open arms and kindness. This makes my community and Brightview very special.”

Brightview has also made it a goal to welcome people from all backgrounds to their company — the most important factor in new hires is culture fit. While they value the experience of industry vets, when looking for new hires they also welcome individuals from outside senior care who can offer new and unique points of view.

Third, Management are Servant Leaders

Whether it’s senior leadership or front-line managers, they’re all just a part of the team.

When Brightview President Doug Dollenberg joined Brightview in 2017 he spent the first four months of his tenure out in communities — spending his days participating in work alongside associates in all jobs; including dining, activities, maintenance, and more. The only limitations were certifications for direct caregiving, and in those roles he worked side-by-side with certified associates. The end result: learning the culture and building mutual respect and trust for the people he’d be helping to lead. 

Brightview employees see the difference that this approach to managing makes and made it clear in their survey comments:

“We truly are a family. We celebrate each other’s birthdays by doing pot luck meals — directors and caregivers together. We are all equal; no one is better than anyone else and we are treated fairly.”

“Our leadership team at home office is very down to earth and are warm and welcoming. When they come into the community it is not a scary thing but instead a partnership.”

How INCREDIBLE Employee Scores and Reviews Help Brightview

Brightview Senior Living has received high marks not only from their Great Place to Work certification survey, but in more public forums as well.

The company boasts a 4.2 rating, towering above the senior living industry average of only 2.7. Brightview earns high praise from employees across the board, shown by Great Place to Work survey comments that highlight strong company loyalty, like:

My job at Brightview has changed my life for the better in so many ways. I genuinely love the residents and associates here and consider them to be more like family.”

“I have never worked for a company that was so upbeat and treated every associate like a family member. Brightview really cares about their associates and it shows on a daily basis.”

89% of surveyed employees say that overall they consider Brightview a Great Place to Work, while 93% feel they make a difference at Brightview!

Imbuing the Culture Across the Organization

Brightview believes that early culture training is key to success. As with many senior living providers, all new associates go through culture orientation to learn ‘the Brightview way’ at the beginning of their employment. 

This is where Brightview parts with its peers, investing more in upfront training than other providers.

New Directors, for example, attend a three-and-a-half day culture training where they learn about company history and culture. “On the last day, we host a Town Hall session and attendees can ask our leadership team anything,” says Duker. “We want people to know who we are and be comfortable speaking up. The company is not our culture. The people are and each associate is key to its consistency.”

Since 2017, Brightview has expanded from 34 to nearly 40 communities, employing a very deliberate growth plan that includes yearly growth caps to ensure that expansion is paced at a speed that allows for the nurturing of culture.

The question of what makes Brightview a Great Place to Work is a multi-faceted answer, but at its core lies people:

  • People who feel valued
  • People who feel that their work is important
  • People who feel that they are part of a family that just so happens to be working together.

That, Brightview would say, is the secret sauce to their success as an organization.



Natalie Lyda leads the Customer Success team at Activated Insights, Great Place to Work’s senior care division.