HandOn December 9, Glassdoor released the results of its seventh annual Employees’ Choice Awards, naming the “Best Places to Work” in the U.S. and the U.K. This year’s list features a number of impressive companies from a wide array of industries, including Google (No. 1, large companies), Mayo Clinic (No. 10, large companies), and CARFAX (No. 34, small and medium companies).

“This is our most diverse best places to work list in the seven years we’ve been doing it,” says Scott Dobroski, careers and workplace analyst at Glassdoor. “We have more companies across more industries represented – more retail companies, more health care companies, more consulting companies, more consumer goods companies.”

Dobroski says this diversity is an exciting indicator that the economy, as a whole, is truly on the upswing and recovering from the Great Recession. For a while there, it seemed that only the tech industry was thriving, meaning job seekers who weren’t technologically inclined didn’t have many options. Now, with so many of the “Best Places to Work” coming from all kinds of industries, job seekers will have more opportunities to choose from.

“It’s cool to see that there’s something for every job seeker [in] 2015,” Dobroski says.

A diverse “Best Places to Work” list is good news for employers, too: now that tech is no longer the undisputed king, companies in all industries can look forward to an uptick in the number of highly qualified candidates knocking on their doors.

“Employers … should expect a strong candidate pool,” Doborski says of 2015.

Company Culture: the Unifying Trend Across All of the ‘Best Places to Work’

This year’s list may be the most diverse it has ever been, but Dorboski says all of the companies named among the “Best Places to Work” share a key common trait, whether they’re in retail, tech, or even manufacturing: a great company culture.

“The common themes of these best places to work, regardless of their industry, include employees citing a company culture that encourages openness, collaboration, and freedom to move around,” Dobroski says. “[Employees at these companies] talk about a mission- and values-driven company culture, and that’s actually a really important one. What it shows is that employees know where the company is headed in the short term and the long term, and they also feel really empowered when they know how their role can impact success for the company.”

Dobroski says employees often praised their companies’ career opportunities, use of internal promotions, professional development offerings, and benefit packages. Employees often lauded one another, too: many said their smart colleagues made their company a great place to work. All of these things point toward strong company cultures.

By and large, employers agree with their employees that company culture is the reason for their greatness.

“2U’s success is driven by a talented group of employees who work hard and have fun while sharing a deep commitment to deliver the world’s best education experience for the students in the programs we support,” says Chip Paucek, CEO and cofounder of 2U Inc., which earned the No. 27 spot on the small and medium business list. 

“I take it as my personal responsibility to make sure the team is well taken care of,” says Dick Raines, president of CARFAX. “The proof of our success is evident in our consistently high employee satisfaction scores and public reputation.”

Want to Make Next Year’s List? Listen to Your Employees (and Actually Give Them What They Want)

Though Google has been a constant presence on Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work List” for the past six years, 2015 was the first time Google claimed the No. 1 spot. Google’s status as a great place to work may seem obvious – next to an ubiquitous search engine and some funny glasses, Google is perhaps best known for its borderline-absurd company perks – but Dobroski says there’s more to Google’s success than on-campus showers and free haircuts.

“A common theme that we see resonate among Google employees a little bit more than other companies is that Google does an amazing, fantastic job of surveying their employees for satisfaction feedback, taking that feedback, and turning it around and implementing changes very quickly,” Dobroski says.

Indeed, many employee reviews of Google on Glassdoor praise the company’s HR department for making life easier and the work environment more fun through smart use of feedback.

Just soliciting employee feedback is not enough; companies actually have to use it to make positive changes. Otherwise, it’s a waste of time and a good way to frustrate employees, who will see their opinions and needs constantly ignored.

“When you ask me what other employers can do [to make the list next year], head and shoulders above the rest, it’s engage feedback from your workforce, listen to their feedback, and implement the appropriate changes in a timely manner,” Dobroski says. “Too often, we see employers get feedback or claim that they want feedback, but then do nothing with it.”

Chrissy Glover, employee brand manager at Opower, (No. 25 on the small and medium business list), says utilizing employee feedback is key to her company’s success. “At Opower, we’ve found that the more we listen to our employees’ concerns and provide candid, honest responses, the more faith they have in us, and we in them. Embrace workplace transparency and empower your employees to speak up — they may have the answers you’re looking for.”

And what’s the best way to collect employee feedback? “Glassdoor is a site where employees are leaving reviews,” Dobroski says, chuckling at the obviousness of his answer.

While some employers have ditched internal surveys entirely, in favor of Glassdoor reviews, Dobroski says the best way to gather employee feedback depends entirely on each company’s unique situation — namely, how the employees work, the industry the company works in, and where the company operates geographically.

“You should be looking at what employees are saying on Glassdoor, but you should still be … seeking feedback from your specific workforce in the way that works best for your company,” Dobroski says. “So surveys may work best for you, but for other really small companies, it could be an open forum Q&A.”

Ultimately, HR needs to put in some legwork to make a company great enough to achieve a spot on Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” list. “It’s up to each HR department to determine ‘Who is our workforce, and how can we get feedback from them?’” Dobroski says. “And then [they need to] use that feedback.”



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