Building a strong company culture can have lasting positive effects for your organization. Not only does great culture have the power to boost satisfaction for current employees, but it can attract the type of talented individuals who share your company’s values. And with more organizations focusing on the employee experience, you risk falling behind if you don’t make culture a priority.

But what exactly does it mean to have great culture? Despite what some people believe, it amounts to more than building an on-site retro arcade and serving free gourmet lunch (although to be clear, we’re not opposed to either of those things). We wanted to learn more about what makes a winning culture, so we decided to examine companies that are already knocking it out of the park. 

To identify the best of the best, our data scientists drew from Indeed’s database of more than 15 million employer reviews and got to work analyzing responses from companies that have the most reviews about culture. So who topped the list? Keep reading to find out more about the organizations that are leading the way with their company cultures.

Great culture thrives across industries

So who places first for culture? It's none other than Nike, the global athletic apparel giant that is recognized worldwide by its Swoosh logo and its "Just Do It" slogan. But beyond Nike, the rest of the firms on the list encompass a diverse mix of industries, including fast food, finance, grocery stores, non-profits, clothing and more.

Table highlighting the 15 companies most highly ranked by employees for culture.
Table compiled of companies ranked most highly by employees for culture in 2017: 1) NIKE, 2) HEB, 3) Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, 4) Boys & Girls Club of America, 5) Starbucks, 6) Apple, 7) H&R Block, 8) Total Quality Logistics, 9) Chick-fil-A, 10) Coldwell Banker, 11) The Walt Disney Company, 12) Publix, 13) YMCA, 14) Costco Wholesale, 15) T-Mobile

Interestingly, while a lot of the media conversation surrounding culture is focused on the efforts of tech giants in this arena, Apple is actually the only tech company to make the cut on this list. The takeaway? Silicon Valley doesn’t have a monopoly on great company culture. It can be achieved across industries.

If there is a sector that’s more heavily represented on this list than others, it’s the food and beverage industry. Two grocery stores (HEB and Publix), a fast food restaurant chain (Chick-fil-A) and a coffee chain (Starbucks) are all in the top 15.

For many of the companies on the list, it’s also not the first time they’ve appeared on one of our “Best Places to Work” roundups. HEB ranked #1 among retail companies, H&R Block took the top spot for management, the Boys & Girls Club of America ranked #3 among nonprofits, while Nike, Apple and The Walt Disney Company each earned a place on Indeed’s overall list of top 10 companies to work for in 2017.  

Lessons from Disney: How to Build a Workforce that Delivers Magical Experiences

Interestingly, Disney manages to make two appearances on this list, with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts ranked third and The Walt Disney Company ranked the 11th. This could be attributed to the brand’s extreme attention to detail when it comes to guest and employee experiences—or it might just be magic. We’ll let you decide.

Read on to learn more about what makes the top five companies on this list stand out from the crowd in terms of company culture.

The best of the best: what the top 5 companies are doing right

1. Nike

Founded: 1964

HQ: Beaverton, Oregon

No. of employees: 10,000+

Known for its signature swoosh logo, Nike designs and sells athletic apparel, shoes and equipment. And in the same way the Nike brand inspires athletes to reach high levels of performance, the company culture encourages employees to aim for greater achievements.

One employee called Nike “one of the best companies for which I have had the opportunity to work.”

The review continues, “I was fortunate to work on a very closely knit team all working hard for the same accomplishments and goals. Great work life balance; everyone works hard and works very collaboratively and well together.”

The culture is positive, advancement opportunity is everywhere, and the people you work with will challenge you to be better daily,” another employee says, adding, “if you can work for Nike, just do it.”

2. HEB

Founded: 1905

HQ: San Antonio, Texas

No. of employees: 10,000+

Based in San Antonio, TX, HEB is a chain of grocery stores that operates in Texas and parts of Mexico. What makes the company culture so great? Employees say it’s the belief that every employee is valuable and the fact that people at all levels pitch in and contribute.

“I love that the managers all the way up to the store managers are actually doing something,” one employee says. “They don't just stand around and watch you work. They are ALL right there with you doing their part. The work environment is amazing. Everyone is happy there.”

HEB is not just a grocery store, it is an organization that is driven by a culture that believes that each and every person counts,” another employee notes. “This culture makes HEB such a great company to work for and is present in every one of their stores.”

3. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Founded: 1923

HQ: Orlando, Florida

No. of employees: 10,000+

With resorts, cruise ships, amusement parks and more, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts offers travel destinations for millions of families, yet manages to make each experience magical. As it turns out, that magical experience also extends to employees and the company culture.

We have this awesome ability to turn anyone's day around with magical moments to make their stay that much more personal and enjoyable,” says one employee.

This was by far the best place I have ever worked. Everyone is exceedingly nice, and my leaders really cared about all their cast members,” another employee adds. “No matter what location I worked, every place felt like the Happiest Place to work.”

4. Boys and Girls Club of America

Founded: 1860

HQ: Atlanta, Georgia

The Boys and Girls Clubs of America help young people reach their full academic potential by offering programs that build character, leadership and life skills.

And while this can be serious work, “fun” was the word that kept popping up in employee reviews about the organization’s culture.

The atmosphere is upbeat, fun yet professional,” one employee says, adding,“ “this job has been by far the most rewarding job outside of the home that I have ever had.”

“My work day at the Boys and Girls Club consisted of helping out my crew members come up with creative and fun activities for the children to engage in,” says another employee. “The best part of the job was knowing that you were engaging in a fun environment that involved learning between the crew members and children.”

5. Starbucks

Founded: 1971

HQ: Seattle, Washington

No. of employees: 10,000+

With more than 24,000 stores in 70 countries, Starbucks is known for its highly customizable drinks coffee and espresso drinks. The people who work for Starbucks love that they can be themselves while whipping up the perfect pumpkin spice latte.

“The workplace culture is very accepting of all people,” says one employee.

Working for the global coffee chain also means having the opportunity to connect with customers daily and form strong bonds with coworkers.

“The people are great and so are the customers,” another employee said. “ Working alongside other employees and interacting with customers feels like we are all one big community.”