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Reflections on the 2013 100 Best Companies to Work For®


Workplace Culture, Women, and Well-Being

16 years of the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list and the franchise is still going strong.  When Great Place to Work initiated our relationship with FORTUNE magazine to select the country’s best workplaces annually, we hoped, but never realized, just how big the list would become.  Each winter, employers, job seekers, college recruits, and employees eagerly anticipate the announcement of the Best, and those companies that fail to make the ranks, clamor to understand what makes the list makers so special.

It’s no secret what goes on at the Best Companies to Work For.  Flipping through the pages of FORTUNE, readers get a real sense of what these companies do—the sorts of perks and benefits they offer, how much they pay, the unique celebrations or recognition awards they provide.  What readers often cannot see is that special intangible something that holds all of those practices together: the workplace culture.  How employees experience the workplace goes beyond the perks and benefits, and resides in the shared values and behaviors to which employees collectively subscribe.  Working at a Best Company implies a sort of “culture contract” where employees and leaders agree to uphold certain ideals that sustain how a company operates and, often, why it succeeds.

Every year, we see the focus among the winners shift a bit as they anticipate and react to the changing world around them. This year, we saw list makers honing in on employee wellness programs, professional development, including a special emphasis on the development of leaders, and tackling the issues created by an increasingly mobile and global workforce. 

As the Global CEO of Great Place to Work, I share many of the concerns of the 100 Best.  As a mother of four and a competitive athlete, I see the link between wellness of the mind, body, and spirit and relate to the theme of employee well-being.  The issue of women in leadership roles is also very personal to me, and I am pleased to see so many great workplaces investing energy in training, vetting, and sponsoring women employees for leadership roles.  Creating women leaders is not the responsibility of women alone.  As companies tackle these issues simultaneously, well-being and the development women leaders, I anticipate that we will see an increased emphasis on flexibility and family-friendly workplace practices.  While many of the Best already excel in these areas, I am optimistic that the number of companies focused here will continue to expand.

The workplace has undoubtedly changed since we started the list in 1998 and I expect we will continue to see significant shifts in the coming years as companies adjust to the ever-changing demands of a more global economy and more global workforce.  As Great Place to Work’s reach grows internationally, I anticipate we will see the influence of our Best Multinational Workplaces list expand as well.  It will no longer be acceptable for global organizations to only be a great workplace in a single market. Additionally, we will look to our millennial employees, those who have been raised in the era of great workplaces and those who expect freedom, mobility, and flexibility from their employers, to understand how we can communicate, collaborate, and stay connected across cultural boundaries, since that is a part of what that generation does so well.

As companies’ external reputations become more intrinsically linked to who they are internally, being known as a great workplace will become imperative.  A company’s reputation for reliability, environmental practices, human rights, ethics, and more will be reflected in how they treat those who offer their industriousness and ingenuity to the company’s success.  This is why I believe the Best Companies to Work For list has even more relevance and resonance today, and why I believe more and more companies, from around the world, will take up our mission to build a better society, one workplace at a time.

Join us at the 10th annual Great Place to Work® Conference and hear from leaders of Best Companies, including Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo to learn how to build your own great workplace.


Susan Lucas-Conwell is Chief Executive Officer and Board Member at Great Place to Work®.  An accomplished business leader, Susan provides keen perspective on how building and maintaining great workplace culture drives business success.


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