A Deeper Look at the 100 Best Places to Work

Earlier this week, Fortune magazine announced this year’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, an annual listing of the companies that provide employees with the best combination of pay, perks, and culture.

It’s a great list that highlights some of the best employers, but sometimes the publicity that accompanies the list’s release gives people the wrong idea about what makes up an engaging work environment. While the consultancy that scores the companies, Great Place to Work Institute, goes to great lengths to measure each company on five serious organizational factors, the follow up stories tend to get reduced down to a series of unique perks and benefits that are fun to read and easy to describe.

That’s unfortunate because there are some very strong cultural concepts common to each of these organizations that can get lost in the shuffle. Here are the five items that each of these best employers has in common:

  • Credibility—managers communicate the company’s direction and plans while involving others.  Leaders “walk the talk” when it’s time for action.
  • Respect–the organization provides employees with a professional work environment that includes the equipment, resources, and training they need to do their job well.
  • Fairness—compensation, benefits and rewards are distributed fairly and equitably.
  • Pride—the company maintains a good standing in the industry and in the community.  The organization structures jobs so employees have individual work that they can be proud of.
  • Camaraderie—the organization creates a hospitable work environment that is friendly, welcoming, and where people feel that they are part of a team connected by common values and purpose.

As we celebrate these great companies, it’s important to remember what makes them great. On-site saunas, concierge service, and a game room are all nice perks, but the real definition of a great place to work is an environment where employees experience trust, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with.

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