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100 Best Companies to Work For

Money…Prestige…Vacation time…Travel…Pensions

Forty years ago, these were the features that attracted employees. Sure, most were transactional. But they provided a means for pursuing what people wanted in their private time. Fast forward to 2015 – and the boundaries between work and home have faded away. Between cell phones and laptops, we can work anywhere at any time. As work has turned into a reflection of personal values, employees are seeking more intangible benefits from their jobs:

Opportunities…Work-life balance…Respect…Training…Empowerment…Vesting

To accommodate these aspirations, companies have been forced to evolve both philosophically and structurally. The company man still exists, but he (or she) is mainly an entrepreneur with equity. The company ladder? Try a maze with people shifting backwards and sideways to accommodate their interests and families. Verbal abuse, discrimination, and sexual harassment? They still exist, but they’re costly for employers and career killers for employees.

If you’re an MBA coming out of school, you want to start fast. Like any office equipment, an MBA is a depreciating asset. Like an E-ZPass on the tollway, it can get you further more quickly. It opens doors in your thirties so you can lead in your forties. But the fastest way to shut down your momentum after graduation is picking the wrong company.

To spotlight those companies who are doing right by their employees, Fortune publishes an annual “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Based on what Fortune calls “the most extensive employee survey in corporate America,” the Trust Index Employee Survey is distributed to a random sample of employees at participating companies. According to Fortune, the survey questions gauge employee satisfaction related to “management’s credibility, overall job satisfaction, and camaraderie” (which comprises two-thirds of a company’s rank). The remaining third relates to Fortune’s “culture audit,” “which includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programs and a series of open-ended questions about hiring practices, methods of internal communication, training, recognition programs, and diversity efforts.”

GOOGLE RANKS #1 AGAIN

For the sixth consecutive year, Google came out on top. On the surface, how could you vote against a company that serves free food that you can eat during Guitar Hero competitions? But think of this: 95 percent or more of the employees surveyed – 1,081 in all – gave Google high marks in atmosphere, rewards, company pride, communication, management, and support, and responsibility.

Here’s what survey respondents had to say about Google:

“I have never seen a company that is so responsive to feedback from employees. The annual survey is taken very seriously and the feedback is addressed quickly.”

“Google has a genuine interest in developing their employees’ careers, especially when it comes to internal mobility. There are tons of opportunities everywhere and Google really invests in their employees to retain their top talent.”

“Everyone knows about the perks, which are great: free food, massages, laundry facilities, etc. Additionally though and probably more important, is the opportunity to work on innovative and interesting projects across the entire organization, not just limited to a small ‘new initiatives’ team.”

And how about this? Google has unlimited sick days according to Fortune. And this $55 billion dollar behemoth offers an on-site medical care facility and paid time off for volunteering. That said, the competition to get into Google is fierce, with 140 applicants for every opening. It could also be more diverse, with the firm comprised of 28 percent women and 1 percent of African-Americans.

BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP EARNS HIGH MARKS FOR CULTURE

Earning the silver in this year’s rankings is the Boston Consulting Group, which climbed a spot from number three in 2014. The 770 employees in this survey rated their company even higher than Google, with 97 percent or more giving them the high scores in all of Fortune’s categories. While their food spread doesn’t rival Google (who does), BCG offers perks that would be the envy of most MBAs. This includes 100 percent company-paid health coverage for employees and families, paid sabbaticals, and flexible scheduling. Not to mention, BCG employees consult with many of the most prestigious firms in the world.

When it comes down to it, BCG’s culture is its biggest draw says Lucy Brady, a senior partner who heads the firm’s North American recruiting. “We’re also distinguished by having an open and transparent culture that really is a meritocracy, with a high level of trust, respect, and partnership,” Brady told Poets&Quants in an exclusive interview. “And there’s something that just pervades our culture is humility and a desire to help people succeed. It’s not about our individual success. It’s about the power of the collective.”

According to Fortune’s survey, BCG employees agree with Brady’s assessment:

“The great thing about BCG is the camaraderie that exists between the employees. In an environment where your teammates, project managers and clients change every few weeks, it is amazing the way that everyone sticks together and truly acts as a team and upholds the feeling that we are all in it together.”

“There are many things unique and unusual that make BCG a great place to work. Our benefits are the best I have seen. The ways we contribute to the world in pro bono work is incredible. Our support for women and LGBT people is genuine and significant. One thing that really stands out for me is the way we focus on our client’s success and feel that this will lead to our success.”

The firm is also growing, with 1,149 jobs filled in 2014 – and another 1,000 positions still open. It is also a diverse employer, with 45 percent of its force comprised of women.

QUIRKY ACUITY KNOWS HOW TO RETAIN TALENT

ACUITY, a Sheboygan, Wisconsin financial services firm, finished third, buoyed by high marks (particularly on atmosphere where 98 percent of the 917 employees surveyed gave it high scores). That may explain the longevity of its employees, with nearly two-thirds having worked there for six years or more. They also offer free lunches on a regular basis, including a regular “Lunch with an Officer” program, where executives frequently dine with employees at all levels to ask questions and share the latest developments. Even more, the program maintains a down-home culture where employees work hard – and play even harder according to respondents:

“The corporate culture and climate at ACUITY is not only unlike any other insurance company, but unlike any other business I’ve been involved with. Doing things like toga and beer stein parties, snowman-building contests, mechanical bull riding, roller skate parties and Ferris wheel rides, all of which were done in the building or on the grounds, truly makes ACUITY unique.”

“I always tell people that ACUITY is a great place to work. They give us so much, but they expect a lot out of us in return, which is not a bad thing. We are respected and management knows nearly all employees by name which speaks volumes for the company. I have worked for other employers and know that ACUITY is not steps but flights above others.”

However, ACUITY isn’t a easy place to enter. It boasts a one percent voluntary turnover rate, though it has 150 openings currently.

OTHER BIG WINNERS FROM FORTUNE

Rounding out Fortune’s top five were the SAS Institute, an information technology firm out of Cary, North Carolina, and Robert W. Baird, a financial and insurance company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Other notable companies on the list includes Salesforce.com (8th), Quicken Loans (12th), Twitter (24th), Intuit (31st), Goldman Sachs (50th), American Express (51st), Marriott International (53rd), KPMG (63rd), Cisco (70th), PwC (74th), General Mills (80th), Adobe (90th), Deloitte (97th), and Accenture (98th).

Among specific categories, Bright Horizons Family Solutions leads the way among the highest percentage of women employed (95 percent). Baptist Health of South Florida had the highest percent of minorities at 76 percent (with Four Seasons Hotels and Marriott International coming in at 64 and 63 percent respectively).

Deloitte maintained its explosive growth, adding 4,938 new graduates in 2014, followed by PwC (4,528), Ernst & Young (3,408), KPMG (2,127), and Cisco (689). Not surprising, Deloitte intends to grow even further, with 7,800 openings through February. KPMG (7,200), Nordstrom (6,868), PwC (5,571), and Marriott International (5,412) are also experiencing growth spurts.

To see the 50 best companies in Fortune’s ranking – along with the top 25 companies for new graduate hiring and job openings – continue to the next page.

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