For the fourth time, Google has captured the top spot on Fortune’s annual Best Companies to Work For list.
The company, which last year bumped SAS out of first place, held onto its ranking this year. SAS, meanwhile, edged past Boston Consulting Group to take the No. 2 spot on the list of 100 companies.
Of last year’s top 10 ranking companies, eight are still there. Two are new. Ultimate Software moved up from 25 last year to ninth in the current list. Hilcorp,. a Houston-based energy company, made the list for the first time this year, coming in seventh. It’s one of five energy companies to make the list. In 2011, the company appeared on the list of Best Medium (size) Companies.
Published on iTunes today, the list will be released on the web Thursday morning on the CNN Money site. Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer, interviewed on CBS’ morning news show, said the list is based on more than simply the benefits and pay a company offers. “Obviously, pay and benefits and all are really, really important,” he agreed, but added that perks demonstrating corporate citizenship — hours off for volunteer work — and an effort to create an appealing work environment are as important.
Citing CHG, which moved from ninth place to third this year, Serwer observed, “You’ve got to be creative. In other words, these companies that do really well their human resources people aren’t just filling out forms. They’re trying to work it as hard as people who, say, put on a television program. Always thinking. And these people for instance have ‘Dress Up Like Presidents Day.'” Just crazy fun stuff. That makes work appealing.”
Winning a spot on the 100 Best Companies to Work For List is not an easy job. Many companies actively campaign to earn top scores, but all must submit to a rigorous series of surveys of employees and managers, and onsite inspections by the The Great Place to Work Institute. The end result is a Trust Index measuring what the Institute believes are the cornerstones of a great place to work: Credibility, Respect, Fairness and Pride, and Camaraderie.
Each participating company — some 1,000 annually — receives a confidential report on the findings. The list that Fortune publishes each year is of the 100 highest ranking of the companies. Since companies pay for the Institute’s work, not all will choose to do an analysis annually.
Competition to win a place on the list can be keen, especially among those companies at the top. Just appearing on the list means a big boost to an employer’s branding message, bringing it both national publicity and validation. Not only will it help attract top candidates, but the public firms on the list also are more financially successful.
As Serwer said, “You look at Google: They get the best talent in America. Young people are killing to work there. It’s super competitive to get a job there and they continue to innovate and a lot of that is because they get the best people to come and stay there. ”