Got It All: What Makes A ‘Best Place To Work’?

by Mark

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Whether you are a jobseeker or simply someone who keeps up to date with the news, you’ll almost certainly have come across a ‘Best Places To Work’ league table. But what really makes a company one of the best places to work? Is it all about pool tables, slides and subsidised lunches?

In today’s post we dig a little deeper into what makes a firm qualify for the title of best place to work and reveal that it’s quite a lot more nuanced than common perceptions.


The League Tables

Best Places to Work league tables are pretty common. Fortune, Glassdoor, HR Asia, Forbes and Time Magazine, to name a few, all run annual league tables. Naturally, all of these compilers will have slightly different assessment criteria for their own rosters of firms (take a look at Fortune’s methodology here as a good example), and depending on the prestige of the awards, companies will pick and choose which competitions they want to enter and will likely invest heavily in doing well. After all, having a ‘best place to work’ accolade does wonders for any employee brand proposition (EVP).

However, a review across several league tables starts to reveal patterns – certain criteria that are the same of similar and which they essentially have in common. We’ve tried to distill the most important of these below:



1.      Competitive compensation:

A company that values its employees provides appropriate salaries and benefits – this seems pretty logical and obvious. It’s also necessary in order to retain staff. Creative benefits, such as profit-sharing, bonuses, stock options, free meals, wellness programs, and gym memberships all enhance employee satisfaction, wellbeing and retention. If you feel the firm is recognising your contribution, you are more likely to stay loyal.

2.      Company culture

Company culture encompasses shared values, attitudes, and behaviours. Factors like work hours, location, communication, management style, and benefits contribute to a positive culture. When employees align with the company’s values, they tend to be more engaged and productive. We’ve covered this topic a few times before, such as here. This is an important criteria because a company culture can’t just be built overnight and it’s pretty hard to fake – so this is a key, reliable indicator in the grand scheme. Culture also extends to recognition and appreciation - regularly acknowledging employees’ contributions, celebrating achievements and milestones. For the best companies, a healthy culture is as

important as a healthy balance sheet.

3.      Community

Linked to culture is the idea of community. Great companies foster a sense of community among employees - celebrating milestones, offering profit-sharing or performance-based bonuses, and avoiding layoffs. These measures contribute to a supportive community, which will often be reflected in community building initiatives such as clubs, societies, nights out and charity events.

4.      Trust

Trust is crucial in healthy work environments. Managers trust employees to work hard and make good decisions, while employees trust leaders to guide them. Colleagues also trust each other to work toward shared goals.

5.      Positive Communication

Linked to culture, the best companies operate in an environment of open, transparent communication. They have managers that encourage feedback, listen actively, and complete the feedback loop. They recognise and give credit where it’s due.

6.      People Development

The best companies encourage and support both career development and personal growth.

This means providing opportunities for skill-building, mentorship, and continuous learning. There should be clear paths for career advancement, as well as investment in training, mentorship, and skill development.

According to the Harvard Business Review:

“The companies we studied find ways to rejuvenate employees by helping them identify their ‘calling’, or the area of work that provides them with the greatest fulfilment. Doing so not only increases productivity, it makes people feel happy — lucky even — to be at work.”

7.      Work-Life Balance

Companies that prioritise work-life balance create a healthier and happier workforce, providing people with life satisfaction as opposed to job satisfaction alone.

They will generate operate flexible schedules, some remote work options, and supportive policies contribute to employee well-being, increasingly including mental wellbeing

8.      Empowerment

The best firms empower employees to take ownership of their projects. Encourage autonomy, creativity, and innovation. Again, this was a key finding in the Harvard Business Review’s analysis of best places to work:

“Employees who have the leeway to rearrange, modify, and improve their assignments feel possession over them, and once this happens, their mindsets begin to change. Instead of

focusing on what cannot be done, they become preoccupied with what can. As a result, they are more easily able to grow, innovate, and push their companies forward.”



Clearly, becoming one of the Best Places To Work requires dedication and commitment to a variety of different aspects and areas of employee’s lives, which are assessed by the league tables over a wide range of criteria. Rewarding employees well, creating a culture of trust, communication and empowerment and helping employees to find their calling and take responsibility for innovation are all key aspects of these firms that push them to the top of the charts.

Of course, not all companies will have the budgets and capacity to meet all of these criteria, but the important thing to ask is, are they moving in this direction? Are they doing the best they can? Even small firms and start-ups can adopt policies that move towards these benchmarks, so they are a useful guide when looking at potential new employers. ​