The 6 Secrets Of America’s Happiest Workplaces

The employer ratings site Glassdoor just released their best places to work for 2014–and the results can make your office way better.

The 6 Secrets Of America’s Happiest Workplaces
[Smiles: Bekulnis via Shutterstock]

What makes a company a best place to work? Turns out it has little to do with ping pong tables, more with meaning.


Glassdoor, the employer ratings site, has released the results of their 2014 Employee Choice Awards survey. The survey (results below), averaged employees’ anonymous ratings of their companies. Rather than showing a focus on perks, compensation, and other incentives, the best-rated workplaces had a range of intrinsic motivators, like challenging work, impact upon society, and an opportunity to work with brilliant colleagues.

This year’s overall winners were the consultancy Bain & Company, who was named best large company to work for. The investment website the Motley Fool won for best medium-sized company, while Twitter was named the best tech company to work for.

Unsurprisingly, tech firms were overrepresented in the top 50–though the results have little to do with Silicon Valley perks.

“Rather than ‘it’s because they pay a lot’ or because it’s ‘hey, we’re Facebook, and we give everyone as much food as they possibly eat,” says Glassdoor SVP of People Allyson Willoughby, “the reasons people like where they work were much deeper.”

Click to expand | Glassdoor Top Tech Companies 2014

Combing through the data, Willoughby and the Glassdoor team found a handful of themes emerged among the most beloved companies. They were:

  • Mission: a sense of purpose in coming into work
  • Collegiality: working with awesome people
  • Challenging work: being stimulated by the work to be done
  • Meaningful advancement: the promise of growth
  • Confidence in senior leaders: a sense of trust–and transparency–with management
  • Perks: good pay, free food, a beer cart or two.

To Willoughby, the results were instructive.


“These aren’t just things you have to buy that make people speak highly of their company,” she says, “If you’re running the company and you acknowledge that people want to work around other talented people, people want to have opportunities, people want to have transparency from upper management. Those are all simple things to accomplish if you’re mindful of them.”

But why are these intangibles so resonant with employees? Organizational psychology supplies some answers:

The takeaway for leaders? If you want to move from better to best, promote those intrinsic factors–and don’t be afraid of promotions, either.

Click to expand | Glassdoor 50 Best Places to Work 2014 & Best Medium-Sized Companies 2014

About the author

Drake Baer was a contributing writer at Fast Company, where he covered work culture. He's the co-author of Everything Connects, a book about how intrapersonal, interpersonal, and organizational psychology shape innovation.