Saturday, January 14, 2006

The best companies to work for

Fortune put out their annual "best companies to work for" list again. It's interesting to give it a once-over. It was also interesting for me, having moved from Intel to Microsoft, both of which appear on the list. Some thoughts:

  • Intel, who's HR folk (while I was there anyway) tooted the horn pretty loudly whenever this list was published, had better watch out. They've slipped to #97 on the list, and so stand a chance of dropping off it. (This may not be due to any decrease in their quality of employment, but just that others have progressed around them?). Not sure how they ranked last year.
  • Microsoft came in at #42 (a rank that will no doubt please many geeky engineers) which isn't top ten, but I guess it means I made a good move :-)
  • I was surprised to see both MS and Intel having roughly the same percentage of women (1 in 4). The group I'm in at MS certainly feels like *WAY* more than that. Maybe it varies widely from one team to the other. I wonder if Intel's numbers were thrown one way or the other due to fab workers vs engineers?
  • Yahoo made the list (#74). The most common job is "senior technical yahoo" with an avg salary of $117k. They also have free lattes, which for me would amount to a $2k/yr benefit. :-)
  • Autodesk (#81) has their sabbaticals every FOUR years, and they still allow employees to bring their dogs to work (which RAWKS!). I've seen dogs running around our Microsoft building a couple times but I don't think it's *officially* allowed :-)

A couple issues with methodology:

  1. The company's state is listed by headquarters. Not sure how much this affects things. For example: Intel avg salary was 101k/yr. Msft, 107k/yr. Not sure if they compared it to cost of living though. The majority of Msft employees are in WA. Intel's headquarters is in silicon valley, but only a minority of employees are there, with large numbers in Arizona, Folsom CA, and Portland OR - with Portland probably being the largest and having a lower cost of living. State income tax also varies across those these states (e.g. WA doesn't have any - WOOHOO!)
  2. Google didn't make the list. Didn't deserve to? or does stock compensation not make it into compensation calculation? Other reasons? Maybe you have to have been public over N years?
  3. Starbucks came in #29, despite having an avg salary of $43k, and a 14% turnover. Both not surprising given their business, but that means they rank #29?!? There must be too the methodology in the actual article in print. Which is a nice segueway to my final point:

Probably my biggest concern overall, however, is it didn't seem to incorporate any element of *job satisfaction* into the survey. To me, and I think to many others, this should be THE most important factor: Do you love what you do, do you feel you have the chance to make a difference, and does your employer empower you to do so?

The best place to work is the one where you wake up in the morning and are eager to get to the office and change the world.

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