Last year, CHG Healthcare conducted a survey of more than 800 U.S. workers to find out what employees really wanted in a job. When it came to the top contributors to employee satisfaction, salary unsurprisingly topped the list. However, work-life balance and company culture weren't far behind. In fact, a poor company culture was the second reason employees cited for leaving a job, just below low salary. The survey found that when fostering culture, most companies were aiming at the wrong targets: "While it may seem like an easy fix to invest money in onsite gyms, ping-pong tables, or free food, what workers really want is a place where they feel comfortable with their work environment and are treated with respect," the CHG team wrote.

Flash forward to 2021, and not much has changed on the employee satisfaction front. "The reality is that offering lots of perks doesn't necessarily make your company the place people want to dedicate themselves to," says Best Practice Institute CEO Louis Carter, who stresses the importance of employees having a "high emotional connection or love for" their place of employment. That lack of connection may be one of the reasons behind the "Great Resignation," with 11.5 million workers quitting their jobs in the second quarter.

A new ranking list from Best Practice Institute, in partnership with Newsweek magazine, digs deep into those companies inspiring that kind of deep connection in their employees. The first annual 2021 Most Loved Workplaces list features companies that go beyond the usual benefits of paid time off and 401(k) offerings and espoused such virtues as collaboration, career-building, and transparency.

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Richard Binder

Richard Binder, based in New York, is part of the social media team at ALM. He is also a 2014 recipient of the ASPBE Award for Excellence in the Humorous/Fun Department.