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Perks Abound at ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’

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Every year, Fortune magazine and the Great Place to Work Institute collaborate to compile a list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For¹.

Not surprisingly, many of these organizations offer unusual and enticing incentives to bolster morale and reward loyalty among employees. Here are highlights and ideas from the 2015 list:

Corporate culture is one of the most important aspects of great companies. In fact, Fortune magazine says the best employers in the U.S. say their greatest tool is culture. It quotes Scott Scherr, founder and CEO of Ultimate Software, which ranked 21st: “The true measure of a company is how they treat their lowest-paid employees.”

Culture helped Google retain its No. 1 ranking for the sixth time. “If you think working at Google is like the movie, The Internship, you’re not far off. The nap pods are real and free food does indeed abound. But for most employees, it’s the technology and people that really stand out,” said Fortune.

Google’s leaders explicitly attribute the company’s financial performance to its benevolent people practices.

Great Rated! conducted an anonymous survey of randomly selected Google employees to assess the quality of workplace challenges. Eighty-nine percent said the company often or almost always provides needed training, fair promotions and personally challenging work. Another eight percent say the company sometimes provides these opportunities, for a combined positive rating of 97 percent.

A significant majority of employees (94 percent) say they carry a lot of responsibility and 95 percent say that managers trust them to carry out the responsibilities without micro-managing. For most employees (84 percent), work at Google is more than just a job: the chance to change the world through their technology provides special meaning.

While it is often difficult for companies to ensure that promotions are awarded fairly across organizations, 79 percent of respondents say promotions consistently go to those who best deserve them, within a few percentage points of what one can typically expect even at the very best companies in the country.

Among the benefits offered to help support employee development are:

  • College Tuition Reimbursement of $12,000;
  • Average annual training for full-time salaried employees of 30 hours; and
  • An internal platform that helps employees find courses and jobs, get one-on-one advice and use other development resources at the company. It is described as a one-stop shop for Google employees to manage their own development within the company.

Work atmosphere gets a high ranking, too. Ninety percent of employees say they often or almost always enjoy their colleagues and find the workplace to be fun and cooperative.

If all of this makes you want to apply for a position at the company, you might want to gauge your “googleyness.” That is one of four things Google looks for in its applicants. According to Google’s website the term refers to getting “a feel for what makes you, well, you. We also want to make sure this is a place you’ll thrive, so we’ll be looking for signs around your comfort with ambiguity, your bias to action and your collaborative nature.”

Google had 2,500 job openings as of February 2015. Openings at other top 100 companies included:

  • Deloitte, 7,800;
  • KPMG, 7,200;
  • Nordstrom, 6.868;
  • Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 5,571;
  • Marriott International, 5,412;
  • Capital One Financial, 4,962;
  • Edward Jones, 4,784;
  • Publix Super Markets, 4,200;
  • Hyatt Hotels Corp., 3,925; and
  • Cisco, 2,640.

Quality of life is a major incentive for attracting and retaining employees. Health care is usually at the top of that category. Of the 100 Best Companies, 11 pay 100 percent of their staff members’ health care premiums. Of the top 25, those picking up the full tab for employee health care premiums are Boston Consulting (2), Zappos.com (11), Twitter, making its debut at 24, Ultimate Software (21), Kimley-Horn and Associates (25) and NuStar Energy (18).

Work-life balance is also key. Among the perks in this category are on-site child care (provided by 30 on the list). Among the top 20, this includes SAS Institute (4), Genentech (9) and Quicken Loans (12).

Job sharing is a perk at 10 of the top twenty including Google (1), The Boston Consulting Group (2), SAS Institute (4), Robert W. Baird (5), Edward Jones (6), Wegmans (7), Genentech (9), David Weekley Homes (14), CHG Healthcare Services (16) and Stryker (19).

Impressive Debuts on the List

Eighteen companies made debuts on the 2015 list, including:

Accuity, a property and casualty insurer, came in at No. 3. The Sheboygan, WI, company has some outstanding benefits such as no limit on tuition reimbursement, no cap on paid sick days for full-time employees and a healthy 401(k) plan where company plunks 10 percent of pay into accounts every quarter. Full-time turnover is only 2 percent. Acuity is building a 65-foot Ferris wheel for its employees — indoors. It also boosts what it calls the tallest flagpole in the United States, at 400 feet high.

Twitter rang in at 24th. The nine-year-old microblogging service is a highly sought-after employer, with 230 applicants for every opening. On-site perks include free yoga and improv classes and all the food you can eat. Even more attractive, say many employees, called Tweeps, is the desire to “make a difference,” both in the world at large and in Twitter’s own backyard. It’s an added bonus for some to be able to sweat alongside your CEO in a fitness event called CrossFit, which combines Olympic-size body weights and intense cardio moves in a single workout.

Riot Games entered in 13th place. The developer of the best-selling video game “League of Legends” holds an annual “We Riot” event. In 2014 the company flew employees from offices around the globe to Seoul where they joined 145 Korean employees for a week of activities including the 2014 League of Legends World Championships at the World Cup Stadium. Riot also has a “Play Fund” where Rioters can spend up to $300 on other video games throughout the year.

¹How the 100 Best are chosen: More than 246,000 employees from 280 companies responded to questions in a survey devised by the Great Place to Work Institute. Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on the survey. The remaining third is based on Fortune’s Culture Audit, which includes detailed questions about demographics, pay and benefits, and open-ended questions on issues such as philosophy and communication. Eligible companies must be at least five years old with more than 1,000 U.S. employees. After the evaluations are completed, if there is any news that may significantly damage employees’ faith in management, the organization may be excluded from the list.