What makes a ‘top’ employer?

From the Times Top 100 to the Guardian Top 300 to Glassdoor Best Places to Work, it seems everywhere you look there is a survey on who are the best employers to work for. But what really makes a ‘top’ employer?

Not everyone is the same

While one company may generally be a good employer, they might not be good for everyone. People are different and just because lots of other people have enjoyed working for Google it doesn’t mean you will. Different organisations will have different values, work practices and cultures that appeal to different personalities.

Surely it depends on the industry

It may sound obvious, but while PwC might make the top of the Times 100 list, it is probably not the top of the list for someone wanting to work in film or anthropology.

And the size of the organisation

Not surprisingly the ‘best’ employers according to these lists are nearly always large national (often international) organisations. Smaller companies may be just as satisfying to work for – perhaps even more so – but don’t necessary have the public profile or marketing budget to make it onto these surveys.

How are these things judged and by whom?

Some of these surveys involve questioning actual current employees, but some are based only on student perceptions of which companies might be best to work for. It’s also worth thinking about the parameters of the judging – is it based on pay? promotion prospects? work satisfaction? how many sleep pods the organisation has? Issues around quality of work-life balance, work autonomy or even maternity/paternity leave may not always be the first thing graduates think about when job hunting, but they might be important longer term.

So the point is, have a good think about what it is that matters to you about your career and look for organisations that match those criteria rather than picking the most popular ones. Time spent researching options and organisations is time well spent and could lead to a much happier career!


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