What makes a great employer? Is it great benefits, high pay? Is it a coveted product or service? Or is it something else?
Forbes set out to determine these answers and thus, the best employer in the U.S. through their recent study conducted in partnership with market research firm Statista. They asked 50,000 Americans working at companies with at least 1,000 employees to anonymously rate how likely they are to recommend their company to others. To broaden the scope of the study, they were then asked to nominate a company outside of their industry.
The findings reveal that most companies occupying the top spots pay their employees wages considerably higher than the national median average, more than the minimum wage for service industry workers, and make room for a healthy work-life balance. And, surprisingly, household names you might expect to see on the list like Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, didn’t even make the top 10.
Pitting smaller companies against large-scale corporations is like comparing apples and oranges, so the research team then broke the study down into major companies with over 5,000 U.S. employees, and midsize companies employing from 1,000 to 5,000 U.S. workers, generating 500 top companies in each category.
Taking the top spot in the former category is national grocery chain Trader Joe’s, which prides itself on treating employees as equal parts of a community, whether they’re part-time students or high-level executives. Jon Basalone, president of stores at Trader Joe’s, told Forbes: “It almost doesn’t feel like work — it feels more like we’re hosting a party and the customers are the honored guests. You get to meet and work with some amazing people, whether your fellow crew members or customers, and the interaction and energy that comes from that just makes it a really great place to work.” Runners-up included Southwest Airlines, Lilly, Costco, Garmin and Google.
The top midsized companies are a mixed bag, with a hefty presence of IT, internet and software companies like Nintendo, Indeed and Workday, and education like University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and James Madison University. The top two spots go to TripAdvisor and Penguin Random House respectively, both from industries that are not represented anywhere else on the top 20. Of their experience working for TripAdvisor, a former employee said: “Innovative, passionate, fearless, creative, driven, and adaptable. Our core values are at the heart of who we are. We have a spontaneous and vibrant culture, and we truly believe in team spirit and collaboration.”