Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For

Each year when the Fortune 100 Best Companies to work for list issue is released, I pour over it to see if something new is revealed. While I always learn something, what comes through loud and clear is that it isn’t the things these firms do for their employees—it is the organization’s culture that really makes the difference.

You may not know that the primary tool Fortune uses to select and rank organizations is the Great Place to Work’s Trust Index (TI). The TI is sent to a sample of employees at each nominated company so, as Fortune puts it, “in effect, the workers vote their companies onto the list using criteria related to their workplace cultures.” It really makes the ranking meaningful to know that the organizations aren’t selected just by what their leadership says—the employees themselves participate and share how they feel about their company.

One of the lessons from this year’s list is that the best employers are focusing more attention on workplace culture as a competitive tool. And, the great news is that most of the companies on this list are also doing really well in their business segments.

One thing that amazed me is that 12 companies have made the list every year since it started in 1998. That is a real achievement. Since 1998, the 100 best companies are “shining examples of a different way of doing business that puts to rest the old notion that treating employees well might hurt the bottom line. “ These 12 companies prove it is just the opposite!

I worked for Marriott for many years and that organization (on the list again this year as a Great place to Work) follows the advice we all learned from the founder of the company, JW Marriott who said, “take care of our associates and they will take care of the customers.” It was true when he said it and it certainly is true today.

Each of the companies on the Fortune list this year has leaders who sincerely listen to their employees. They hear what is important to their work force and then do their best to provide benefits and policies that meet their employee’s needs at this point in time. Some of these companies have amazing perks for employees but none of them merely add things to their benefits package just to be nice—they do it because it makes good business sense to take good care of the people who take care of your customers! Fortune quotes the founder and CEO of Ultimate Software, Scott Scherr who says, “The true meaning of a company is how they treat their lowest-paid employees.” How true!

Of course, many organizations on the list do amazing things for their employees but nothing stands out to me more this year than Google (six years as number one on the list!). This year they increased their parental-leave benefits—new parents, regardless of gender, can now get up to 12 years of fully paid leave along with $500 of “bonding bucks” to all new parents to use during the first three months of a child’s life. That is the kind of commitment to employees that really tells the employees how valued they are!

Consider what you do each and every day for your employees. Is there something you might do differently to let them know how valued they are?

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