Small Business

What Small Business Can Learn From Fortune's 'Best Companies' List

Patricia Orsini|Small Business Editor
100 Best Companies to Work For: Fortune Magazine

Fortune magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For came out today, and while most of the companies on the list are large firms — Google’s No. 1 — there are a lot of takeaways for small businesses among the companies on the list.

Most small businesses won't be able to reward employees by paying their mortgage for a year, as has reported doing, but there are many other ways to create a satisfying work environment.

Leigh Gallagher, assistant managing editor of Fortune, told CNBC’s Brian Shactman on Worldwide Exchange today that while a big paycheck is helpful, there are many other things that go into creating a satisfying work environment.

“This survey is about how employees feel about their company,” said Gallagher. “In Google’s case, the employees feel they are there for a purpose, they take it seriously, and the company goes out of its way to make it feel like a family.”

A trend that Gallagher said she noticed as they put together this year’s list: Millennials, especially, want to work for companies that have a purpose beyond profit.

“Every third company offered perks such as paid-time-off to volunteer, companies are donating, and have interesting philanthropic models. There is a feeling that employees want to contribute.”

But, it’s not all altruism, she noted. “They want to feel they are working on good projects. When employees are excited about a project, they will want to do more for you.”

Money does matter, said Gallagher. Goldman Sachs makes list at 33. “If you pay people a lot of money they will be happy,” said Gallagher. Beyond that, she said, “Employees like to feel heard. Access to CEO, is important. But mainly, they want to feel like they are making a difference, which sounds cliché, but that’s what all these companies have in common.”