Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The most painful words for many American employees are: I wish I worked there.

The majority of humanity makes do at work. 

Some look back with enormous satisfaction at a job well done and an experience completely and positively unrepeatable.

Many more, I fear, look back with a tinge of satisfaction that they survived it all and will never have to go it again.

Where, though, are the gems? 

Which employers make their employees say nice things about them, even in public?

Forbes, in partnership with Statista, just published a list of America's Best Large Employers.

The researchers say they talked to 50,000 American employees in big companies and even government agencies to determine where employment paradise might lie.

I look at the Top 10 and, oddly, see no obvious government agency.

I also see something that should give every single employer in America pause for thought and profound self-criticism.

You see, the very best employer in America, according to employees, is Trader Joe's.

The second best is Southwest Airlines.

The rest of the Top 10 comprises: Lilly, Costco, Garmin, Google, Stanford University (seriously), SC Johnson, the Mayo Clinic, and the Michelin Group. In that order.

I'm more moved, though, by the two at the top.

You might think both Trader Joe's and Southwest Airlines a little quirky. 

What strikes me is that both enjoy exceptional customer loyalty.

When I go to a Trader Joe's, I'm (almost) happy to be there. The prices are generally good--even if the fresh produce doesn't seem to most alluring. 

Many of the products on offer are thoughtfully presented and just what I happen to need.

But the staff are splendidly off-the-cuff, genuine, and helpful without being cloying. 

It's an art form.

It's one that contributes to Trader Joe's enjoying a powerfully enthusiastic consumer base.

Far greater, I'd say, than that of Whole Foods. For example.

The same might be said of Southwest. 

Think about all the things this airline doesn't give its passengers: fancy seats and huge planes come to mind.

But Southwest still enjoys a passionate base of core users who evangelize rabidly about their positive experiences.

Please, though, consider these items. They're surely related.

The best large employers, as voted by employees, are two companies with passionate customers.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it's because they place an additional emphasis on the people side of their businesses.

All the people sides of their businesses.

So many employers talk team and family and claim to emphasize their employees above all else.

Their employees know better. They're the first to see through clouds of arrant nonsense. They're the first to detect when they're downwind of bilious bilge.

Of course it takes some effort--and understanding from your CFO--to invest greatly and wisely in the lives and feelings of both your employees and your customers.

But have you ever considered that happy employees tend to influence customers to be happy too?

Published on: Apr 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.