Whether we’re talking about the hottest new startups, the coolest company headquarters or the latest scandal, Bay Area firms have a knack for capturing the world’s attention. And when most people think about the the Bay Area, they typically associate the region with the game-changing tech companies that command all the headlines.

Yet while these types of businesses are certainly abundant (hello, Apple) and define the Bay Area in the popular imagination, they only represent a slice of the businesses that have large presences in the region. In truth, the Bay Area is also home to everything from finance to pharmaceutical to retail giants.

But of all these firms, which receive the highest ratings from employees? To understand what it is that makes Bay Area employees of all stripes excited about their work, our data team looked beyond the news headlines, analyzing data from over 72 million ratings and reviews listed on Indeed Company Pages to find out who’s leading the pack.

Trending Topic: Facebook claims the number one spot

To judge by the headlines, Facebook has had a tumultuous year.  Even so, in the eyes of its employees, it remains a place where people enjoy going to work: reviews and ratings on Indeed place the company in our number one spot.

Table compiled of the 20 top-rated workplaces in the Bay Area for 2018.
This table features the 20 top-rated workplaces of 2018 in the Bay Area, based on user ratings and reviews on Indeed: 1) Facebook, 2) Salesforce, 3) Kaiser Permanente, 4) Johnson & Johnson, 5) Airbnb, 6) SAP, 7) Adobe, 8) Apple, 9) Microsoft, 10) Bristol-Myers Squibb, 11) Genentech, 12) eBay, 13) Cisco, 14) Capital One, 15) AvalonBay Communities, 16) Roche, 17) Amgen, 18) AbbVie, 19) Charles Schwab, 20) Stryker

While big tech players make up a large portion of the companies on the list, there are plenty of nontech industries represented, including pharmaceutical companies (Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbvie, Amgen, Roche), finance institutions (Capital One, Charles Schwab) and health-care organizations (Kaiser Permanente).

And while the big tech firms are known for their extravagant perks and culture, these other firms give them a run for their money: medical and consumer products firm Johnson & Johnson offers $35,000 in financial assistance for fertility treatments and $20,000 in reimbursement benefits for adoption or surrogacy, while finance company Charles Schwab offers a month-long paid sabbatical for employees of five years or more.  

It’s also interesting to see how this year’s results stack up against last year’s. Many of the companies on our 2018 list also earned top rankings last year, including Facebook, Salesforce, Kaiser Permanente, Genentech and Cisco.

Salesforce occupies second place, just behind Facebook. Two of the companies achieved the exact same ranking two years in a row, with Kaiser Permanente (also the top-rated healthcare employer on Indeed) holding the line in third place and Genentech doing the same at # 11. Meanwhile, Cisco moved up four places from #17 to #13.

But there are also several notable newcomers to our rankings. Pharmaceuticals giant Bristol-Myers Squibb landed in the #10 spot and finance giant Capital One placed 14th, while hospitality innovator Airbnb made an impressive first entry onto the list by coming in at #5 this year.

The best of the best: What makes the top five companies stand out

With the majority of our top five appearing on last year’s list and gracing our other top workplace lists (Healthcare, Tech),  they are clearly doing something right. Let’s look closer and find out why employees love working for these companies.

#1 Facebook

Founded: 2004

HQ: Menlo Park, CA

No. of Employees: 25,000+

Facebook needs no introduction, and its enviable workplace culture is almost as well known as the social media site itself. What makes the culture so great? We’re sure the numerous company perks don’t hurt (think barbers on site and free meals). But many employees named the people as the company’s most appealing feature.

“[I] thoroughly enjoyed working at Facebook,” said one employee. “Amazing environment, extremely open culture and great people.”

Employees pointed out that working with excellent coworkers can also temper the occasionally demanding and high-pressure environment.

“Facebook's work culture is something every company should strive to become,” another employee said. “Though the job position itself can be stressful, working among people who [...] want to see everyone succeed motivated [me] and encouraged me to shoot for the best.”

#2 Salesforce


HQ: San Francisco, California

No. of employees: 10,000+

Salesforce is a cloud computing company that earned high employee ratings for its culture as well as compensation and benefits.

Employees rave about the emphasis on “Ohana,” a Hawaiian concept of family unity and one of the defining tenets of Salesforce’s culture. This same concept reflects a strong culture of service, with the company operating on a 1:1:1 model: it donates 1% of its technology to nonprofits, commits 1% of the employees’ time to community service and gives 1% of its equity to nonprofits.

Little surprise, then, that employees describe the culture as “awesome” and “phenomenal.”

“The company treats employees well with competitive salary and perks,” said one reviewer.

“[It’s a] fantastic place to work where everyone is excited, every day, to come in to work.”

#3 Kaiser Permanente

Founded: 1945

HQ: Oakland, CA

No. of Employees: 10,000+

Managed-care company Kaiser Permanente has ranked third in the Bay Area for the second year running. So what is Kaiser known for (besides consistency)?

The company received high praise for its compensation and benefits packages as well as work–life balance.

“The benefits are excellent—from your health coverage, educational allowance and up to your retirement,” one employee said.

Another employee who echoes the praise of Kaiser’s benefits added that “leadership listens to employees and makes great efforts to create a culture of collaboration and work–life balance.”

#4 Johnson & Johnson

Founded: 1886

HQ: New Brunswick, New Jersey

No. of Employees: 10,000+

It should come as no surprise that a company that produces so many products (baby shampoo, Band-Aids, medical devices and more) is similarly multifaceted in its strengths as an employer.

Employees give the company high ratings for culture and work–life balance as well as compensation and benefits.

The teams I worked on had an amazing culture where worklife balance was very important,” one employee said. “Everyone wanted you to succeed and helped out as much as possible.”

“I enjoyed the people I worked with and coming into work every day,” another employee added. “I liked the company's emphasis on worklife balance and their family-first attitude.”

#5 Airbnb

Founded: 2009

HQ: San Francisco, CA

No. of Employees: 3,000+

Joining Facebook in the “hot tech company” category, Airbnb also stands out for its strong workplace culture. Reviewers shared that some roles can be difficult, but it’s balanced by the enjoyable work environment.

And it’s fitting that Airbnb employees are given travel credits to use at the beginning of each quarter, which encourages employees to take a break and go on an adventure—while also giving valuable insights on how to improve or change the booking experience: “Work hard, play hard is a standard motto,” as one employee put it.

“I enjoyed every moment of this work. The company culture of Airbnb was unparalleled,” another employee added.  “The work is hard and takes commitment, but you will meet some of the most wonderful people.”