In 2014 the American workforce valued short-term perks, like free lunches, work-life benefits like flexible work hours, and remote work opportunities, and long-term benefits, like working with intelligent people, having a clear path for career advancement and a strong mentorship culture.
It should then come as no surprise that this year’s top ranked place to work in America—according to anonymous feedback provided by employees via Glassdoor.com on more than 325,000 workplaces— was the company that best embodied both characteristics.
Though Google has appeared amongst the top-50 all seven years Glassdoor has held the Employees Choice Awards since 2009, this is the first time the tech giant earned official bragging rights as the number one best workplace in America.
"Google is an example where, yes, there's great perks there, but it's all of the above at Google," said Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor’s career trends analyst. "(Google employees) talk about brilliant coworkers, they talk about the perks, they talk about career opportunity, they talk about really making an impact, whereas a company like (second placed) Bain and Company, which is a great place to work, the thing that really shines through there is career opportunities."
While Google’s name sits amongst familiar neighbors from around Silicon Valley, this year’s top-50 list only featured 14 representatives from the tech industry. While tech remains the best-represented industry on the list, the previous six installments of the annual ranking each featured 20 or more.
"The tech industry has made perks like flexible schedules, free food, and on-site amenities famous, but now we're starting to see this creep into other industries as well," added Dobroski.
Google may have nabbed the top spot this year, up from sixth last year, but the tech giants that earned the top three positions last year all slipped in the rankings. Over the last 12 months Facebook has fallen from third to 13th, LinkedIn has dropped from second to 23rd, and the reigning champion, Twitter, didn’t even crack the top 50.
According to Dobroski, Twitter has been suffering from poor employee reviews ever since the company opened their initial public offering in November of 2013, which resulted in many talented and tenured employees leaving the organization.
"Twitter has undergone, in the past 12 months, a lot of senior leadership shakeups, and when that happens it's not a surprise that employees are a little speculative of where the company is headed," said Dobroski.
The absences of tech giants like Twitter, Intel, eBay, and SalesForce, who held positions on last year’s list, made way for a greater industry diversity this time around, including some unlikely contenders.
Among the underdogs to make their way onto this year’s Employees Choice Awards list are fast food chain In-N-Out Burger and Tulsa-based convenience store chain QuikTrip.
"Our first question was, 'Wait a minute, how did this crack the top 50?" said Dobroski. "Upon further analysis and data checking we see really quality reviews. Those employees talk about a higher than average hourly wage for the work they're doing, they also talk about career opportunities, they talk about managers who understand their life in and out of work. They might not have the prestige of working at Google or the global impact that Bain and Company might have, but they love where they work."
No matter the size of the organization, studies have shown that high rates of employee satisfaction and engagement provide significant benefits to employers as well as employees.
A study published by CareerBuilder in October 2013 also found that 68% of employees are willing to accept a lower salary in order to work for a company with a great employer brand.
Furthermore, with employee satisfaction tied so closely to retention rates, it is worth noting that the cost of replacing an unsatisfied worker—including training and the loss of productivity—can range from 90% to 200% of that employee’s salary, according to a 2008 study by The Society for Human Resource Management.
"We see this as an added data point for the smart employers to read through the reviews and think about what makes these employers stand out as best places to work," said Dobroski. "The smart employers that really want to recruit the best talent are going to be the ones that make changes that are on par with what these Best Places to Work companies are already doing."
—Jared Lindzon is a freelance journalist born, raised, and residing in Toronto, covering technology, small business, automotive, and music news for every major Canadian publication you've never heard of. When he's not playing with gadgets, interviewing entrepreneurs, or traveling across the continent to music festivals and tech conferences, you can usually find him diligently practicing his third-person bio writing skills.