How to Become a ‘Best Place to Work’

If you’re looking to become a ‘Best Place to Work,’ you’ve got some tough competition. Most companies will find it difficult to compete with Google’s seven-acre sports complex, complete with horseshoe pits and roller hockey rink or The Boston Consulting Group’s optional six-month delayed start for new consultants who would like to have $10,000 and time to do some non-profit work. Even still, your business can achieve the prestigious status by making a splash with some changes that are proportional to your business. We can’t all be Google, but we can all be great.

Involve Management and Executives  One of the trickiest things in any workplace is making sure your management and executive team is approachable. There is often a great divide between management and staff, but the best companies are finding ways to bridge this gap. Great managers know it’s all about being real, transparent and having a genuine interest in your greatest asset: employees. NetApp, a data storage company, gets it. Their Vice Chairman asks that managers let him know when they have an employee who is caught doing “something right.” He calls 10 to 20 employees every day to thank them. Similarly, Burns and McDonald, an engineering consulting firm, celebrates the company’s anniversary each year by having management and executives serve chili to every employee.

Provide Competitive Compensation 
The best perks in the world are still just perks, meaning they’re not necessarily consistent. However, getting compensation right puts employees in a position where they’re not as likely to be lured away by the competition. In Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work list, low turnover is often synonymous with companies who pay their employees well. REI, an outdoor-gear retailer, pays its store managers an average of $94,169 and experiences overall turnover of only six percent. Devon Energy, which is headquartered in my home city of Oklahoma City, pays its exploration and production professionals an average of $185,295 and also has a turnover rate of six percent. That’s less than half of the turnover of one of its direct competitors located in the same city.

Be Socially Responsible
While we should all be socially conscious for the sake of our communities, there are some other reasons to do so. Employees put a lot of stock in companies who care about more than just profit. Exhibiting social responsibility is a sign of this and is a major trend in companies on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work list this year. Looking for inspiration? Take a note from SAS and SAS’s new organic farm supplies produce to its four cafeterias, while gives employees 48 hours of paid time to volunteer.

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Allow Employees Time to Relax
While it’s sometimes necessary for employees to work long hours, great companies know that equally important is making sure employees don’t burn out. Some companies offer generous paid time off and some also offer a vacation package or getaway. However you go about it, just remember that it truly is an investment in the productivity and success of your employees. DPR Construction treated more than 200 employees to three-day weekends at Lake Tahoe in cabins owned by the company. Ultimate Software provides a similar benefit to its employees, giving them a free vacation every two years.

What does your company do that sets it apart? Let us know in the comments section below.

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3 Comments on "How to Become a ‘Best Place to Work’"

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I would be interested in attending the webinar on compensation best practices.

Laleh Hassibi

Hi Charlene! You can sign up for any of PayScale’s compensation webinars from this page:

Check back often because the webinar schedule is continually updated. 


I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all of your articles! They’re all very interesting and give me a lot of information within business, communication and HR. Thanks! I especially like this article because it mentions what characterizes the best place to work. I worked at a company once, where the manager didn’t know what was going on in the different departments… So the manager didn’t know anything about the bullying, the loooooooong rests we were having and so on. I think a manager should be able to communicate with ALL his employees – not only the… Read more »