Facebook Tops Indeed’s Top-Rated Workplaces List, But Costco Cracked the Top 10, Too

Here’s something that’s hard to get your head around: Although a whopping 86 percent of companies doubt the fairness of online company ratings, 9 out of 10 job seekers (91 percent) say they seek out an online resource to evaluate an employer’s brand before applying for a job.

Yes, this 2017 research from CareerArc makes it pretty clear that as much as employers hate being rated, job seekers put a lot of stock in those hated ratings.

That’s why really good ratings carry so much weight in today’s highly competitive world where recruiting and hiring has gotten so challenging. And, it’s why Indeed’s Top-Rated Workplaces of 2018 is something you should take time to dig into. 

In fact, some of Indeed’s commentary on it’s 2018 top-rated workplaces hits this issue of the importance of company ratings directly:

“In today’s age of transparency, the kind of privileged glimpse into other workplaces that was once only available via word-of-mouth is now an expectation for everyone. But this also means that we have new opportunities to learn from high-performing companies as we can see how they keep their employees engaged and satisfied. “

Indeed’s Top 25 Highly Ranked Workplaces

But what companies are doing the most when it comes to delivering great employee experiences? Indeed’s Top-Rated Workplaces of 2018 list has a twist that it not only taps into the 72 million ratings and reviews listed on Indeed’s Company Pages, but it then analyzes the results for the companies featured on this year’s Fortune 500 list.

This means that to make the Indeed list you first need to make the Fortune 500, so the list is concentrated on the largest publicly traded — and most well-known — companies in the U.S.

Indeed’s 2018 list has the Top 50 workplaces. Here are the Top 25, in order:

  1. Facebook
  2. Southwest Airlines
  3. Salesforce
  4. Delta Airlines
  5. Costco Wholesale
  6. Fannie Mae
  7. Johnson & Johnson
  8. JetBlue Airways
  9. Bristol-Myers-Squibb
  10. Apple
  11. Microsoft
  12. Eli Lilly
  13. Live Nation
  14. Exelon
  15. eBay, Inc. 
  16. Estee Lauder
  17. Viacom
  18. Nike
  19. Publix
  20. Pfizer, Inc.
  21. Starbucks
  22. Edward Jones
  23. Cisco
  24. ConocoPhillips
  25. Capital One

What the Top Companies Have in Common

One always wonders: What does it take for a company to make the top rankings in one of of these “best companies” or “top-rated workplaces” lists? Here’s how Indeed answers that question about their list: 

“With so much competition in recruiting today, companies are continuing to evolve their overall employee experience in the hopes of attracting and retaining top talent for their open positions,” says Paul Wolfe, senior vice president of HR at Indeed. “Organizations that stood out among top-rated companies have worked hard to listen to the specific needs of their employees to provide an outstanding experience through strategic and thoughtful workplace programs.”

The importance of “people” is another theme that Indeed mentions in its analysis of highly ranked workplaces. They make the point that, “Being surrounded by smart, fun, hardworking, and helpful teammates was mentioned repeatedly in reviews of the Top-Rated Workplaces. This, enhanced by good management, helps contribute to overall employee experience.”

Indeed’s Top-Rated Workplaces of 2018  gives more details on why the Top 5 companies on the list not only made the cut, but also on why they’re ranked so high.

The comments (and ranking) aren’t all that surprising, although I didn’t expect Costco to be make the Top 5. That’s not because I don’t have faith in the famous warehouse company, because I find myself shopping there just about every Saturday morning and I can see first hand what happy, productive employees it has.

My surprise came because Costco didn’t even make this year’s Great Place to Work Top 100, or Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work list, or the odd Inc. Best Workplaces ranking (full disclosure: the Inc. rankings are so terribly presented that I found it virtually impossible to compare them to anyone else who produces a straightforward “top” or “best” companies list).

Yes, it was nice to see Indeed give Costco a little love because it’s a great company that truly deserves it.

You Gotta Know What “Best of” Lists Measure

Here’s my take: So many “best” company ratings — this one from Indeed, Glassdoor’s, and of course, the gold standard ratings from Great Place to Work — have their own philosophy and specific criteria about what makes a “best” workplace or a “great” place to work.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It just means that if you really want to get a good sense of what these lists reflect, you need to dig in and look at what they measure, value, and rate highly. But really, who has the time or the willingness to do THAT?

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The best thing about Indeed’s Top-Rated Workplaces of 2018 list is that it is up front that it only measures companies in the Fortune 500. That’s a pretty clear-cut way of doing it, but it’s also the weakness of the Indeed list because it misses a lot of great workplaces that simply aren’t in the Fortune 500.

Yes, a number of highly-respected companies like Wegmans Food Markets, Chick-fil-A, Space X, In-N-Out Burger, and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are simply not in consideration for Indeed’s Top-Rated Workplaces because they aren’t in the Fortune 500.

This leads to one more thing to remember about all “best of” lists you might encounter: No single list is going to be able to truly capture all of the “best” organizations, or people, or HR blogs, or anything else out in the big wide world. That means that ALL lists need to be taken with a grain of salt and should be measured against any and all other lists that measure the same thing.

Some lists are well done, but a great many are arbitrary, capricious and reflect the shortcomings of the people who put them together. As with all things in life, caveat emptor.

For my money, Indeed’s Top-Rated Workplaces of 2018 list is a solid way to measure the best workplaces in the Fortune 500. If you keep that in mind, and know that it doesn’t measure anything else, you’ll find it useful and instructive about SOME of the best places to work.

John Hollon

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.