What are the top companies to work for in America?
It’s an important question, and here at Indeed we have data that can help answer it. In fact, we host over 10 million employee reviews, making Indeed the largest online resource of its kind in the world. We wanted to know which companies have the highest number of satisfied employees, so we crunched the data on the Fortune 500 to identify the 50 with the best reviews—the top 50 companies to work for in America.
After all, with the baby boomers retiring and millennials replacing them as the largest demographic in the workplace, we are witnessing an unprecedented generational and cultural shift. As a result, the question of how to motivate and inspire the changing workforce is central to the future of talent attraction and retention. Cutting-edge firms are already experimenting with a mix of culture and creative perks to keep the brightest and the best engaged and happy at work. But is it working? Let’s take a look at our findings.
Salesforce #1, other disruptors lead the Fortune 500 list for employee satisfaction
Something we immediately noticed about our best-reviewed list is the prevalence of industry disruptors at the top. When we focus on the top 10 (the full top 50 appears at the end of the article) this is especially pronounced: The happiest employees often work for companies that challenge industry status quos with innovative business models.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) leader Salesforce—which broke new ground with its innovative use of the cloud as a platform for enterprise applications—takes the top spot. Silicon Valley giants Google and Apple also make the top ten, ranking at #6 and #9 respectively.
Interestingly, Apple is the only company in the top 10 of the Fortune 500 that also ranks in the top 10 for employee satisfaction. The other members of that elite list—massive firms such as Walmart, Chevron and GE—appear much lower in the top 50 (if they appear at all).
Tech firms are not the only disruptors we see among our best-reviewed companies, however. For instance, airline innovator Southwest Airlines placed second, beating the next highest ranking aviation firm Delta by 15 places.
But it’s not all about disruptors: We also see some industry stalwarts on the list. For instance, The J.M. Smucker Company—founded in 1897—ranks seventh, making it the best-reviewed food company in America. Meanwhile Eli Lilly—which was founded in 1876—comes eighth, making it the best-reviewed pharmaceuticals firm on the list.
What the best-reviewed companies are getting right
So what is it that these firms are doing right? And more to the point—how can other employers learn from them?
On Indeed company pages, employees assign their firms an overall ranking from one to five stars and also rate them individually by five additional measures: management, job security and advancement, culture, work-life balance and compensation and benefits. Among the scores for the Fortune 500 we find, perhaps surprisingly, that compensation has the weakest correlation with the overall job satisfaction score. By contrast, company culture and quality of management have the closest correlation.
That’s not to say compensation is unimportant—in fact, it’s very important to attracting new hires, and when we focus our analysis on just the top 50 it rises in significance. But once somebody is in a job, money alone is not enough to guarantee motivation or satisfaction. That’s when the other factors kick in.
At Salesforce, for instance, employees praise the company as “innovative” but also approve of its “great work environment” and “fun and engaging culture.” That sense of engagement extends beyond the workplace: “The company is also committed to providing employees six days a year to volunteer in our communities and around the globe which makes it a very fulfilling job all around.”
Apple receives praise for its “diverse atmosphere and flexible work schedule” as well as its “culture of inclusiveness,” while at Southwest employees praise the company for treating them with the same care as it does its customers. One reviewer states that the firm likes to “spoils its employees.” Among the perks listed are company parties, free food and “free travel for employees, children and spouses.”
Meanwhile at Eli Lilly, one reviewer comments on the sense of community at work: “My entire career there I worked alongside fantastic, supportive, team-playing peers and colleagues.
Fostering an employee-centric culture
What does all this suggest? It appears that today’s workforce is kept motivated not so much by money and status, but rather by jobs where the work is meaningful, and which make them feel part of a community, where they identify with their employer’s values, and where their employer understands that life extends beyond work.
This trend is likely to grow more pronounced as millennials grow more entrenched in the workforce. Research indicates that this generation is looking for companies with progressive cultures, which provide flexible work arrangements, flat organizational structures and on-site amenities. Already this new disruption is spreading beyond Silicon Valley: Recently the 124-year-old Coca-Cola announced that it was extending its parental leave to all new parents regardless of gender, because its millennial employees had asked for it.
In short, companies that want not only to attract but motivate and retain talent will need to get more disruptive when it comes to thinking about employee motivation. Now here’s the really good news: You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to do it.