When Fortune names its “100 Best Companies to Work for,” it’s always an exciting time. I particularly enjoy comparing this year’s list to those of prior years (maybe my life isn’t as exciting as it should be if comparing lists is a highlight, but I digress). We almost expect some companies to be on the top of the list, like Google. Other companies surprise us by not even placing in the top 100, like Apple. Still other companies excite us as they climb the ranks year after year, like our friends at CHG Healthcare Services, ranking third this year.
What makes these companies so special? Why are college graduates dying to be recruited by these firms? After taking a look at the Fortune 100 list, I found five practices that set these companies apart from the rest.
- Fitness promotion—Google and CHG set the tone for corporate wellness by offering fully equipped fitness facilities and subsidized gym memberships to their employees. Healthy employees are happy employees, right? Part of me wonders if Google hires any employees who don’t enjoy exercise, or if that’s a characteristic intentionally weeded out in the selection process.
- Telecommuting—Each of the top five companies offers telecommuting as an option to its employees. Telework Research Network, a telecommuting resource site, claims 72 percent of employees say flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another. “Even half-time telecommuting can save a company $10,000 per employee per year,” says Telework co-founder Kate Lister. As someone who worked from a snow-buried house in rural Oregon for a couple of weeks in December (when we had power, that is), I can confirm the enjoyment telecommuting can provide—there’s nothing quite like being able to work in your sweats.
- Paid sabbaticals—Paying for employee sabbaticals (i.e., extended periods of off-time) offers an opportunity for employees to recharge and to cultivate concepts, ideas, and personal mantras that can convert to added value in the workplace upon their (potentially begrudging) return to the office. Boston Consulting Group even goes so far as to vigilantly manage its employees’ workweeks, offering sabbaticals or short respites at the best possible moment.
- Creative bonuses—Have you ever considered offering every employee in your company a $100,000 check if the company meets a lofty 5-year goal? Hilcorp Energy Company did, which is why its employees are anxiously awaiting the coming of 2015. Granted, not many companies can offer similar perks, but all companies can offer an incentive program that ties employees to the organization’s objectives and overall goal.
- Support for diversity—An overwhelming majority of these Best Companies offer healthcare benefits for all of their employees’ spouses and partners. In today’s society, supporting diversity can make or break a company’s reputation. (Remember what happened to Chick-fil-A?)
Granted, these five elements, for most organizations, may fall under the “nice-to-have” column. Similarly, they do not encompass some of the areas most critical to employee engagement, such as autonomy, growth, etc. However, the list provides some interesting insights into common best-practice threads in some of these great organizations.
I would be willing to bet that I have left some important elements off of the list above, which are common to these “best” companies. So, what do you feel makes a company a Best Company to Work For? Do you believe these companies are engaging their employees, or are they just spoiling them with satisfaction-based perks? Throw your two cents in the comments.