Best Workplaces: More Than Just Perks

Susan Hall

Those company gyms, gourmet food, massages and other perks aren't the key to a great workplace, according to Milton Moskowitz and Robert Levering, who have been compiling Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list since 1997.


For the second year in a row, software firm SAS ranked No. 1. SAS also ranked high in the list by


Among the companies on the Fortune list:



But Moskowitz and Levering write:

From the start we have had a strong representation from Silicon Valley. But high-tech doesn't have a lock on this list as some are virtual 24/7 sweatshops (despite the great bennies).

Instead, they stress that a great work environment starts at the top and it happens because senior management has made it a priority. Zappos seems to be the most-often-mentioned company in that regard, with one of its core values to "create fun and a little weirdness." The just-released report by Booz Allen Hamilton on retaining federal workers, which I wrote about Friday, also focuses on a systematic retention program to match worker needs with the agency mission. But beyond just wanting to keep employees as worker bees, senior management at the top companies in the rankings, write Moskowitz and Levering, truly care about their employees and find ways to show it.


In this Washington Post article, author Selena Rezvani writes that these companies offer things of particular value to women-and she doesn't even mention child care.


She echoes some of the issues mentioned in the Booz Allen Hamilton report, issues that tech, in particular, can leave women (and minority men) feeling like outsiders. At the best companies, she writes:


  • Their work/life policies are stigma free. There is no "mommy track." All employees are encouraged to use accommodations such as sabbaticals, compressed work weeks, remote working and job sharing.
  • They have zero tolerance for unfairness. She writes, "Industries dominated by males can take a page from this book, where filing complaints about unfair treatment can be considered a more harrowing experience than the initial harassment or abuse."
  • They acknowledge the power of the unspoken. She mentions Kraft as a company that provides orientation to new hires in the unwritten rules and strategies for succeeding in the corporate culture.
  • They break the mold. These companies encourage new ideas for bringing underrepresented groups into the fold. She writes, "Best companies find ways to 'join up' with employees' lifestyle realities, rather than just tolerating them."

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