Career Advice Dec 14 2011

Google, Apple, the Cleveland Clinic Among Top Employers

By kelly eggers

Looking for a new gig? Sausalito, Calif.-based workplace culture website has released its annual list of the Top 50 Best Places to Work in 2012.

Among companies that ranked in the top 50 were tech heavyweights like Facebook, Google, Apple and Intel, finance firms Ernst & Young, Goldman Sachs and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as retail and consumer goods businesses like Trader Joe's, J. Crew, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson. Some of the newcomers to this year's list were the Cleveland Clinic, Sephora USA, Costco and Groupon.

"What's different about this list is that it's based on the employees' choice," said Robert Hohman, chief executive of Glassdoor. The results are complied from feedback of anonymous employees to the site's 20-question employer-ratings survey throughout the year. Fortune magazine puts together its annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For with the help of consultants and the two lists have some employers in common: Google, NetApp, Southwest Airlines, Scottrade, Qualcomm and Goldman Sachs.

Top companies include those with a high CEO approval rating, competitive compensation and a wealth of highly intelligent employees, Hohman said.

"People love working for Bain and McKinsey because they work with incredibly smart people, solve a variety of difficult, challenging problems, and they get to travel the world," Hohman said. "At Facebook (No. 3), you get to work with incredibly bright people but you also get to work on a platform that nearly a billion people use, and your friends use. It's sort of like being famous."

Other high-ranking qualities were clear communication throughout all organizational levels, and an emphasis on a strong work-life balance.

"Good communication can mean that management clearly paints a vision that they have for the company, and is consistently driving that message down to the troops," Hohman said.

Even companies laying off can rank high if they communicate well. Fourteenth on the list is United Space Alliance, a firm which has had at least six rounds of layoffs since 2009, more than 2,000 of which took place in 2011, after the close of several shuttle programs. "The company did such a good job of explaining and communicating throughout the layoffs, they still made it in the best places to work list," Hohman said.

Companies that encourage a work-life balance for their employees also tend to rank high, he said. "Most, though not all, of these firms have worked out how to be successful while also allowing people to have a life," he said. There are the "mechanical" balances, such as flexible work hours or telecommuting options, he says, as well as firms that simply place value on their staff having a happy and healthy life outside of the workplace. "There's a focus on results, with less of a focus on how many hours people put in."

A number of the companies that ranked highest in employee satisfaction were also those that ranked on Glassdoor's list of toughest companies for job interviews, which was released earlier this year. Consulting firms Bain & Co. and McKinsey fell on that list, as well as Procter & Gamble.

Hohman said that rigorous screening processes could be indicative of a company that selectively chooses people to invest in. "Employees are looking to invest in their own futures, and want employers who are purposely laying a foundation for their future," Hohman said. "People want to find firms that make investments in the employees, firms that see the long-term value of that."

Write to Kelly Eggers

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