Glassdoor recently listed its annual compendium of the best places to work, an awards ranking based on reviews from company employees. Taking note of this year's winners got me thinking: what are these companies doing differently to earn such high praise from their teams? Finding and retaining talented staff adds immeasurable value to a brand, and providing the benefits that matter most to teams are key to making that happen.

The top five companies on the list are admittedly large (each has at least 1,000 employees), giving them an advantage when it comes to benefits like group health, medical, dental, and vision plans, as well as financial planning options like 401(k) accounts. Each of the companies also listed perks like paid holidays and vacation time, generous matching programs, and tuition reimbursement or assistance.

What matters most

But what benefits do employees themselves comment on most often? In Glassdoor's Pro/Con review system, one intangible benefit that stood out in many companies was co-worker quality. From praising their intelligence to commenting that team members are "the kind of people you'd want to hang out with on a Saturday night," employees overwhelmingly noted that one of the best aspects about the best places to work are the people themselves.

We spend a large portion of our day--and for that matter, our lives--with our co-workers. If motivational speaker Jim Rohn is correct about people being the average of the five people they spend the most time with, hiring good people improves the quality of our time and quite possibly ourselves, too.

Icing on the cake

Many employees praised their company's stock options, matching contributions, and health coverage. But alongside those notes, another comment at the top of F5 Network's reviews caught my eye: "Did I mention 'Beer Friday'?"

Throughout the reviews of the top companies, employees showed their appreciation for the extra perks that demonstrated the brand's commitment to supporting the lives and interests of their staff. Google is well-known for its generous benefits, Nestle Purina's on-site Child Development Center is celebrating its 21st year and beloved by its attendees, and several offices touted their on-site fitness centers and exercise programs.

While not every business can afford to furnish daily free meals or top-quality daycare for children, another highly-praised perk offered by both Google and Nestle Purina was the encouragement to bring pets to work. As a dog lover I may be biased, but I loved this quote from one Google employee:

"For everyone looking out your work window to see dogs chasing each other or running after tennis balls really warms the spirit. Eventually my dog became far better known than I was and she oddly enough ended up introducing me to a lot of people I wouldn't otherwise have met."

What benefits does your company offer to incentivize its employees? Share your thoughts on the best perks in your comments!

Published on: Jan 7, 2015
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