We hear it over and over again at Inc.: The biggest challenge that your business faces is finding and keeping the best people. That's why building a workplace culture that allows your staff to grow with the bottom line is critical. To guide and inspire you, Inc. has produced a roster of the 50 Best Workplaces, the first such measurement of American companies with up to 500 employees. From managing people overseas to helping workers pay off student loans, these companies deploy state-of-the-art techniques to keep their staff happy and productive. We hope you will join us in celebrating them--and learning from them.

Inc. has long been a specialist in small companies that grow fast. And as an expert in employee engagement and culture, Quantum Workplace knows that the pressures of rapid growth can take the pleasure out of work. So, in this inaugural list of the 50 Best Work­places, Inc. and Quantum honor a group of companies that make the happiness of their employees a prime goal.

To find the true innovators in managing and motivating people, we audited more than 500 companies that completed online applications in February and March. To be eligible, applicants had to have been in business at least three years, have between five and 500 employees, be based in the United States, and be independent and privately owned, with 2015 revenue of at least $2 million.

We scored companies in three main areas:

 

1. Wallet and workplace: 30 percent of the score

We assessed how well companies look after their staff's financial security through retirement, insurance, and other financial benefits. We also explored work arrangements that increase employee satisfaction, such as flextime and unlimited vacation time.

2. Employee feedback: 34 percent of the score

The best companies by this measure go to great lengths to capture, understand, and act upon insights from their staff. We scored companies on the design of their systems, the depth of their insights, and the thoroughness of their follow-up.

3. Performance innovation: 36 percent of the score

We looked for companies that take special measures to motivate and recognize employee performance.

Among our findings, offering a retirement plan is merely table stakes in the talent game: 90.3 percent of applicants have one. The high scorers distinguish themselves by the proportion of employee 401(k) contributions they match: 56.7 percent of applicants match contributions of up to 4 percent of income versus 72 percent of the 50 Best. Only 9.3 percent of applicants match more than 4 percent; 14 percent of the 50 Best do.

The most glaring difference between the best performers and the also-rans is how companies set and track goals. The high scorers set individual, team, department, and company goals and communicate results in ways visible to all. The majority of companies still rely on email, physical bulletin boards, or paper-based scorecards to communicate goals, and 7 percent of companies have no organized method for making company goals visible at all.

See what you can learn from our honorees that will help you lead your company. Your employees will love you for it.

--Greg Harris, CEO, Quantum Workplace, Omaha

Founded 1992
Industry Telecommunications
Location Pittsburgh
CEO Jeff Tapolci
No. of Employees 53
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2007
Industry Health
Location Redmond, Washington
CEO Darren White
No. of Employees 96
2015 Sales or Revenue $10M-$19.9M
Of our 50 Best, 74 percent offer one-on-one financial guidance. ABG Capital, a telecom in Pittsburgh, brings in financial consultants and hosts regular financial-wellness lunches for all employees.
Founded 1992
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location Kew Gardens, New York
CEO Fran Biderman-Gross
No. of Employees 7
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
Founded 2005
Industry Business Products & Professional Services
Location Newport News, Virginia
CEO & President Robert Campbell
No. of Employees 12
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
Founded 2012
Industry Software
Location Denver
CEO Tanner McGraw
No. of Employees 55
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
Founded 2002
Industry IT Services
Location Laurel, Maryland
CEO David Fout
No. of Employees 381
2015 Sales or Revenue $100M-$499.9M
Looking ahead, 18 percent of the 50 Best fund long-term care insurance for staff and 88 percent fund life insurance.
Founded 2001
Industry Media
Location New York City
Co-Founder & CEO Jessica Rovello
No. of Employees 97
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
Founded 2005
Industry Human Resources
Location Eagan, Minnesota
CEO John Long
No. of Employees 115
2015 Sales or Revenue $10M-$19.9M
Founded 1941
Industry Logistics & Transportation
Location Franklin, Massachusetts
CEO Timothy Barrett
No. of Employees 350
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Founded 2004
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location San Francisco
Founder & CEO Fred Bateman
No. of Employees 48
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
46 percent of the 50 Best have onsite fitness facilities. Their employees might envy staffers at Burton, a snowboarding outfitter in Burlington, Vermont, who get the day off to hit the trails if two feet of snow falls in 24 hours.
Founded 1997
Industry IT Services
Location Chicago
CEO Mark Theoharous
No. of Employees 140
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Founded 2012
Industry Financial Services
Location New York City
Co-Founder & CEO David Klein
No. of Employees 95
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
50 Best lender CommonBond of New York City contributes $1,200 a year to help employees repay student loans, with no cap on the total. Some bigger companies, including Fidelity, contribute up to a total of $10,000.
Founded 2009
Industry Construction
Location Dallas
CEO Julie Strong
No. of Employees 22
2015 Sales or Revenue $10M-$19.9M
Founded 2000
Industry Software
Location Rockville, Maryland
Co-Founder & CEO Matthew Dorman
No. of Employees 140
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Specializing in sustainable construction, C1S Group keeps employees healthy and happy through physical activity, with standing cubicles and workout stations in the office and regular offsite exercise sessions.
Founded 1999
Industry Business Products & Professional Services
Location Nashville
Co-Founder & CEO Tom Turner
No. of Employees 76
2015 Sales or Revenue $10M-19.9M
Founded 1989
Industry IT Services
Location Wakefield, Massachusetts
CEO David MacKeen
No. of Employees 253
2015 Sales or Revenue $100M-$499.9M
Founded 2007
Industry IT Services
Location Wayne, Pennsylvania
Founding Partner & President Guy Fardone
No. of Employees 200
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Founded 1976
Industry Manufacturing
Location Machesney Park, Illinois
Chairman Bill Derry
No. of Employees 128
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
74 percent of the 50 Best offer onsite meals. They might emulate Twitter, which serves employees three meals a day, helps their waistlines with free CrossFit classes, and eases their aching muscles with onsite acupuncture. Kombucha is on tap too.
Founded 1992
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location Lincoln, Nebraska
CEO Jay Wilkinson
No. of Employees 223
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2007
Industry Software
Location San Diego
Co-Founder & CEO Jade Charles
No. of Employees 38
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
At Google, if a staffer dies, the spouse or partner receives 50 percent of the employee's salary for the next 10 years.
Founded 2012
Industry Energy
Location Los Angeles
CEO David Murray
No. of Employees 150
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
Founded 2009
Industry Real Estate
Location Irvine, California
CEO Charles Victor
No. of Employees 49
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2007
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location New York City
Co-Founder & CEO Zvika Netter
No. of Employees 201
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2007
Industry Human Resources
Location Louisville
Founder & CEO Amy Letke
No. of Employees 18
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
Netflix may be the U.S. leader in extended parental leave, offering a full paid year of it to new parents, who can then return to work full time or part time.
Founded 2002
Industry IT Services
Location Hartford, Connecticut
President Ari Santiago
No. of Employees 24
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
Founded 1989
Industry Construction
Location Fargo, North Dakota
CEO Lonnie Laffen
No. of Employees 90
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
86 percent of the 50 Best match employee 401(k) contributions. Typical is 3 or 4 percent of income, but JLG Architects in Fargo, North Dakota, matches up to 12 percent.
Founded 1983
Industry Real Estate
Location Austin
CEO Chris Heller
No. of Employees 265
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Founded 2011
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location Elmhurst, Illinois
CEO & President Michael Medema
No. of Employees 15
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
Companies are experimenting with health benefits. Of the 50 Best, 28 percent have onsite health care clinics. Keller Williams Realty in Austin has a full-time wellness coach and closes its doors to customers for its annual Wellness Day.
Of the 50 Best, only advertising and marketing company Keono of Elmhurst, Illinois, offers onsite child care.
Founded 1998
Industry Human Resources
Location Chicago
Founder & CEO Tom Gimbel
No. of Employees 150
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2006
Industry Human Resources
Location Bellevue, Washington
CEO Henry Albrecht
No. of Employees 181
2015 Sales or Revenue $10M-$19.9M
Founded 2009
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location New York City
CEO Matt Keiser
No. of Employees 193
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Founded 2007
Industry Health
Location Coralville, Iowa
CEO Chris Klitgaard
No. of Employees 256
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
IBM and Accenture help nursing mothers by providing the necessary materials and funds to ship breast milk home when they're traveling for work.
Founded 2008
Industry Business Products & Professional Services
Location Coconut Grove, Florida
Founder, CEO & President Rafael Marrero
No. of Employees 10
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
Founded 2005
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location Lehi, Utah
CEO Chris Bennett
No. of Employees 47
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
64 percent of the 50 Best offer paternity leave. Business product and professional services outfit Rafael Marrero & Co. of Coconut Grove, Florida, offers "as many days as needed."
Founded 1997
Industry Software
Location Washington, D.C.
CEO & President Stuart Trevelyan
No. of Employees 195
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2005
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location Minneapolis
CEO Donna Robinson
No. of Employees 53
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
A creator of organizing and fundraising technology for progressive political campaigns, NGP VAN lays on four-day all-staff retreats to the Caribbean every two years, and the CEO accepts employee feedback during paintball outings.
Founded 2009
Industry Government Services
Location Huntsville, Alabama
CEO & President Tim Thornton
No. of Employees 124
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2005
Industry Consumer Products & Services
Location Greenwood, Indiana
Co-Founder & CEO Randy Stocklin
No. of Employees 43
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
Provider of high-tech services to aerospace and defense customers, nLogic was created by an employee-led buyout of Torch Systems, letting staff own a piece of the company.
Founded 2004
Industry Business Products & Professional Services
Location Austin
CEO Todd LeBaron
No. of Employees 180
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2008
Industry Government Services
Location Herndon, Virginia
President Marcy Eisenberg
No. of Employees 70
2015 Sales or Revenue $10M-$19.9M
Founded 1998
Industry Human Resources
Location San Francisco
Founder & CEO Sara Menke
No. of Employees 70
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2011
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location New York City
CEO Sloan Gaon
No. of Employees 117
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Of the 50 Best, 74 percent give time off for volunteering. HR specialist Premier Staffing of San Francisco expects employees to devote 20 days a year to community service.
Founded 2010
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location San Diego
CEO Judy Gatena
No. of Employees 22
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
Founded 2010
Industry Advertising & Marketing
Location Columbus, Ohio
CEO Marc Hawk
No. of Employees 220
2015 Sales or Revenue $10M-$19.9M
Founded 2000
Industry IT Services
Location North Hollywood, California
CEO Tony Safoian
No. of Employees 130
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Founded 2000
Industry Government Services
Location Fredericksburg, Virginia
CEO Lawrence Root
No. of Employees 196
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
To cut down on cubicle fever, 84 percent of the 50 Best let employees telecommute. Compare that with outdoor gear company REI, where staff get "yay days"--paid time off to enjoy favorite outdoor activities.
Founded 2001
Industry Government Services
Location Colorado Springs, Colorado
CEO & President Kelly Terrien
No. of Employees 259
2015 Sales or Revenue $20M-$49.9M
Founded 2009
Industry Financial Services
Location Newark, New Jersey
President Jason Kaplan
No. of Employees 52
2015 Sales or Revenue $5M-$9.9M
Founded 2007
Industry IT Services
Location Alpharetta, Georgia
CEO & President Sidd Ahmed
No. of Employees 389
2015 Sales or Revenue $50M-$99.9M
Founded 2008
Industry Food & Beverage
Location Santa Rosa, California
CEO Jeff Stevenson
No. of Employees 60
2015 Sales or Revenue $2M-$5M
For play time, 24 percent of the 50 Best offer unlimited vacation. Compare that with Airbnb, which gives employees a $500 quarterly travel credit if they use Airbnb for their accommodations.