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Infographic of the Day: What Makes a Company Good to Work For?

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Every year Fortune magazine releases its list of the country’s best companies to work. But it’s pretty silly when you think about it: Do you really think that the culture and benefits of working at The Container Store can be directly compared to the perks associated with a Google job? Putting them all on a list makes it seems like they succeed along similar dimensions, when it really couldn’t be further from the truth. Every company is different, and they treat their employees differently with regard to the culture, benefits, and job roles.

We’re happy to report then that Fortune has made an interactive infographic, produced by Tommy McCall, that really gets to the root of why people like working at certain companies. Essentially, it boils down the thousands of employee surveys they gathered into an easily digestible format, showing exactly what works people most often cite when raving about their jobs.

Before we get into interpreting the data a bit, let’s see how the thing works. It starts off with a company view:

Companies-View

[Click to view interactive chart]

From there, you can click on each company, bringing up a word cloud, where words most frequently mentioned show up larger. Here’s the word cloud for The Boston Consulting Group:

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BCG-Detail-1

Even better, you can click on any of those words to bring up the actual quotations:

BCG-Detail-Quotes

Of course, where it gets interesting is when you compare the words that pop up for different companies. Here, for example, is The Container Store:

Container-Store

You might think that pay and benefits loom large in what makes a job there good. But in fact, people are far more likely to cite being a “member” of a “team.” Which tells you a lot about the Container Store: One reason that people enjoy their jobs so much is that they feel like they’re part of a collective effort, working with people who share a common goal. The culture somehow really does instill a sense of shared purpose, which is perhaps the hardest thing for any organization to accomplish.

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Now, compare that to BCG’s word cloud above. “Team” and “client” often come up, telling you that the massive consulting firm also instills something like a client-focused culture — in other words, a sense of purpose beyond your own job. But workers are far more likely to cite “people” and “benefit,” showing you that the culture seems more about individual relationships with co-workers, and cushy 401K matches make the long hours worth it.

Now, compare those with Google:

Google

“People” again comes up often, but “team” isn’t even on the radar — this isn’t a hugely team- oriented culture. But the other words that loom largest are “free,” “food,” “perk,” and “benefit.” Google might be a fun place to work, and you might work among amazing people, but it’s hard to escape the idea that the firm simply buys people’s satisfaction by throwing free stuff at them. That’s a far cry from The Container Store, or even BCG.

The infographic is perhaps even more useful in it’s second way of viewing the survey results. Instead of looking by companies, you can look by words:

Words

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And then you can click on them to see what people say at different companies, while using that word. Thus, you can use the list to search for companies who value the same things you — whether it’s big perks or a family oriented environment:

Family

Definitely, definitely check it out.

[Hat tip to Flowing Data]

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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