Culture — everybody talks about it, but how do you get it? And what does it look like? Culture can be one of the most defining aspects of a company, and great culture happens when company values are supported by behaviors, systems and practices.
What that means is it’s not enough to just say what company values are — employees must feel those values in their experience of what goes on in the company day to day.
Culture can also be a differentiator when it comes to talent attraction. Today, job seekers have many options when it comes to choosing where to work. Everyone wants to feel happy at their job, and culture can be the tipping point between two companies.
So which firms stood out for their culture in 2018? And just what is it that they are doing right? To learn more, we analyzed data from over 100 million ratings and reviews listed on Indeed Company Pages. Here’s what we found.
Real estate giant Keller Williams takes the top spot for culture in 2018
Great cultures, it turns out, can happen anywhere — in every sector, in any kind of business. In fact, the companies making up this year’s top-rated workplaces: culture rankings represent a broad range of industries from tech to real estate to fast-food to transportation to community-centered non-profits.
Our top two this year are both brand new to the list. At number one is Keller Williams Realty, the world’s largest real estate franchise. Keller Williams, who also topped this year’s work/life balance rankings, prioritizes employee education by providing in-person and online classes as well as coaching opportunities.
They also invest in local communities by dedicating an entire day each year to volunteering and community service. The company goes out of their way to support employees during hard times as well — through a charitable branch called KW Cares, the company offers financial assistance to agents and their families going through sudden hardship.
Number two this year is In-N-Out Burger, which has stayed loyal to its original restaurant concept and resisted trends, focusing on a simple menu and consistently high-quality food. And it’s paid off — they are a cult favorite of celebrities and burger fans alike.
Also landing in the top three, we see Total Quality Logistics (TQL) a freight brokerage firm. The company prides itself on a fast-paced, work hard, play hard environment. When it comes to culture, the firm encourages events and clubs employees can participate in — there’s even a Beekeeping club.
In addition to In-N-Out, the fast-food sector had a strong showing, making up a third of top-rated workplaces for culture this year, including Chick-fil-A (#7), Raising Cane’s (#9) and Starbucks (#11).
Aside from benefits like tuition support and vacation time, these companies offer training and advancement opportunities. For example, Starbucks offers new employees feedback and mentorship, and each store has a dedicated learning coach. And Chick-fil-A empowers franchise owners to make decisions about how to do things in their restaurant. They will even fly franchise owners to spend time with each other in order to learn from each other’s success. All of these companies encourage employees to develop their careers within the company as opposed to seeing it as a short-term gig.
We also see multiple sportswear and apparel companies with great culture — #4 Vans and #6 Nike. Nike made the list for best company culture last year as well, and both of these companies offer opportunities for employees to participate in sports and fitness on site (Vans even has a skate ramp!). Just as sports can break down barriers, Nike is attempting to break down pay inequality barriers by also taking transparency to the next level — the company goes so far as to make gender, race and salary information public to all. And Vans goes above and beyond to support employee creativity — in 2016, they launched the Passion Project Competition, which fully funded 4 retail employees to pursue a creative project of their choice.
Meanwhile Apple (#13) is the highest ranking tech firm while Southwest Airlines (#10) takes the top spot for air travel.
Now let’s take a deep dive into the top five.
The top-rated: what they’re doing right
HQ: Austin, Texas
No. of Employees: 10,000+
Keller Williams provides agents with a high level of training and support so they can have a positive impact on their clients and communities.
In reviews, one employee mentioned many things they liked about the job, including, “supportive team environment. Great management. Operated with honesty, integrity and friendliness.” They also said, “lots of resources and training provided. You are able to make as much or as little as you want determined by how much effort you put forth.”
Another reviewer stated, “for new real estate agents, Keller Williams Realty is the place for top-notch training and support. For seasoned agents, the economic model allows for unlimited earning potential.”
HQ: Irvine, California
No. of Employees: 10,000+
This American fast-food chain is primarily found in the American southwest and Pacific coast and serves up classic hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries and shakes.
One employee noted the flexibility: “With shifts that start as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m. an associate can always find time to work. Management is very flexible with schedules and understands class obligations.” They also noted “hard work will result in raises in both rank (level) and money. Strong culture with a legacy of friendliness, quality food and outstanding customer service.”
Another employee raved, “it was an awesome place to make lifelong friends and make connections because everyone loves an IN-N-Out employee. The pay was competitive, company culture runs deep, and the health benefits were out of this world, great place to work for young adults, students, or people just starting a family.”
HQ: Cincinnati, Ohio
No. of Employees: 10,000+
Total Quality Logistics (TQL) is a freight brokerage firm connecting clients needing to move things to the transportation carriers who move them. A college degree is not required for sales reps and 90% of sales managers are promoted from within the company.
One employee appreciated the “work hard/play hard mentality” and “extensive training and mentorship.” They also loved the benefits such as “a basketball court, ping-pong tables, nerf guns, free full-size gym that can be accessed 24/7 and food trucks.”
Another employee liked the combination of support and independence, noting “on a day to day basis, we are expected to manage our accounts the best we see fit, handling all our customers' transportation needs. The management provides great support for any help we need along the way, but gives us enough space to run our businesses the way we want.”
HQ: Costa Mesa, California
No. of Employees: 5,001-10,000
Vans embodies southern California skate culture and is a favorite among skateboarders and others. Employees appreciate the fun and flexible work environment and opportunities for growth.
One former employee loved what they learned at Vans, including “time management, personal skills, communication, and overall being attentive and responsible.” They also simply enjoyed being at work: “I really looked forward to going to work each shift. Having a really great team and support system really makes all the difference!”
The team aspect was echoed by another employee, who said “the management was attentive, encouraging, and created an idealistic working environment. My co-workers were motivating and enjoyed being a part of a team. The most enjoyable part of the job was having the opportunity to provide excellent customer service and operate in a team-oriented environment.”
HQ: San Antonio, Texas
No. of Employees: 10,000+
This supermarket chain operates mainly in Texas and northeast Mexico, and includes upscale organic foods retailer Central Market as well as Mexican grocery store Mi Tienda in its family of stores. HEB claims “We’re in the people business. We just happen to sell groceries,” and prides itself on supporting the community, including giving over $10 million each year to education in Texas. HEB also gives employees equity in the company, a rare gesture in the grocery or retail sector.
A former employee raved, “the perks and work environment and pay are amazing! We received bonuses every six months based on performance.” They continued, “management was pretty relaxed as long as you got your job done and did what you’re supposed to do. The most enjoyable part of the job was making customers happy!”
Another former employee praised the management, calling them “encouraging for the most part and very friendly and down to earth. They felt their coworkers were “amazing, one big family, and one great team.” They went on, “honestly, everything was enjoyable. If I go back one day, great. If not, I will always think of it with fond memories.”