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There Were Some Surprising Changes In The Best Places To Work This Year

Some familiar names top the list, but others took a tumble. Two million employee reviews reveal the top choices for the best employer.

What do workers care most about? The answers are probably as unique as the individuals offering responses, but the 2017 Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards for the Best Places to Work offers a great deal of insight into what makes staff happy to start their day.

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The annual list, compiled entirely from anonymous employee reviews on Glassdoor’s platform, reveals some old standbys and some surprising moves into and up the rankings.

Among the highest-ranked largest companies (defined as those with at least 1,000 employees), Bain & Company took the top spot, rising from No. 2 last year and unseating Airbnb (which plummeted to No. 35). Facebook, Boston Consulting Group, Google, and World Wide Technology rounded out the top five slots.

Related: Check out last year’s list here.

To arrive at the results, Glassdoor culled more than 2.1 million company reviews between November 2015 and October 2016. A proprietary algorithm takes an employer’s overall company rating combined with how employees have rated each employer’s five workplace factors on a five-point scale (1=very dissatisfied, 3=okay, 5=very satisfied):

  • Career opportunities
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Culture and values
  • Senior management
  • Work/life balance

It also analyzed the percentage of employees who would recommend the employer to a friend, along with a business outlook rating. Several types of employment status, including full-time, part-time, contract, and freelance, are taken into account, but interns’ reviews are not. Ratings ranged from a high of 4.6 to 4.2 from No. 29 through No. 50.

Winners came from all over the U.S. and from different industries, although technology dominated the top 10. Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor’s community expert, said that there were commonalities among these companies.

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“We see employees talking favorably about working for companies with mission-driven company cultures, working for senior leaders who embrace and practice transparency, doing interesting work that has a greater impact, career growth opportunities, and competitive pay,” says Dobroski. For those employees at tech companies in particular, perks were paramount and included free meals, gyms on site, massages, free laundry services, and generous parental leave policies.

The Power Of Perks

Recent research from Glassdoor found that more than half (57%) of people said benefits and perks are among their top considerations before accepting a job, and four in five workers say they would prefer new benefits over a pay raise.

Millennials, in particular, are more likely to be attracted by free food and services. This is good news, because according to Jobvite’s 2016 Recruiter Nation survey, millennials were more likely to get free snacks at work (35%) than to have medical coverage (29%), dental coverage (22%), or a 401K plan (21%). Some companies even have staff cooking and eating together as a team-building exercise.

Speaking of food, Dobroski notes that some of the highest-ranked companies are in the business of selling food. In-N-Out Burger, Raising Cane’s, Trader Joe’s, H.E.B. Supermarkets, and Wegmans, among others, are in the top 50. “Employees love working at these companies, often citing great career opportunities, flexible work schedules, and competitive pay for this industry,” says Dobroski.

He also points out that E. & J. Gallo Winery, debuting at No. 47, is the first vintner to make the list. According to one reviewer: “Fantastic people, fascinating industry, fast-paced, high level of employee engagement. As an employee, you’re able to have a significant direct impact on the business and the company’s success.”

The Engagement Puzzle

Employee engagement is a hot-button issue for executive management. Gallup’s most recent worker engagement poll shows that only 34.4% of employees are engaged at work, despite companies spending about $720 million a year trying to measure and boost employee engagement, according to the last analysis of the market from Bersin by Deloitte.

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Some companies such as Facebook, Boston Consulting Group, and Google jumped places in the top five this year, while Airbnb fell to #35. Dobroski attributes that to similar themes. “Specifically, we see employees talking about greater career opportunities, increased transparency and clear communication from senior leaders, and benefits that make employees’ lives easier in and out of work,” he says.

Senior leadership can make or break a staff. In Aibnb’s case, while employee reviews aren’t terrible, they point out that “management needs more experience” and that “it’s easy to get lost in the company’s chaos.” Fast Company has reported on Airbnb’s recent issues with discrimination and regulatory legislation designed to block short term rentals in certain cities.

According to a Dale Carnegie Training survey of 3,300 workers, 26% of U.S. employees say they will look for a new job within the next 12 months, and 15% are already actively looking for a new job. The primary reason they’re ready to jump ship is poor management. According to that report, honest and trustworthy leaders make workers feel nearly 10 times more satisfied with their job. Those whose management aren’t perceived as such are four times more likely to be looking for a different job.

Dobroski points out that only three companies have made this list each and every year since Glassdoor launched the rankings in 2009: Bain & Company, Google, and Apple. Bain & Company is the first company to rank No. 1 three times (2017, 2014, and 2012). Perhaps not coincidentally, these companies’ CEOs have ranked among the best, with Bain & Company’s CEO snagging the No. 1 spot in 2016, and Google’s CEO was No. 7 this year. Apple’s Tim Cook ranked among the top CEOs for the past four consecutive years.

About the author

Lydia Dishman is a business journalist writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, commerce, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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