What does it take to become an attractive tech company today? Ping-pong tables, beer taps and nap pods, right?

Not so much, according to Suzy Welch, business journalist and TV commentator.

People give those perks “outsized importance when trying to figure out what makes one company stand apart from another," she wrote today on LinkedIn. "People don’t work somewhere for the ping-pong table."

“People are hungry for jobs that give them meaning, purpose and a future." 

What Workers Really Want

LinkedIn released data today that finds job hunters look for perks beyond the frivolous. They want companies that cut bureaucracy and create simpler organizational structures ... companies that create schedules and workplaces that offer ultimate flexibility ... companies that offer surprising perks that go beyond usual benefits.

LinkedIn officials analyzed billions of interactions on its social professional network between February 2015 and February 2016 to see where people want to work in its "Top Attractors" study.

In the US, people want in at Google. Globally, they want to work at Apple. In all, they want to work at tech companies, which make up all of the top 10 on the US list and nearly half of the 40 US companies workers want to work. LinkedIn’s future buyerMicrosoft — did not crack the top five in either category but was a Top 10 finisher.

Forming the List

Here’s who cracked the top five for US companies in LinkedIn’s study based on data from its 433 million members.

top five companies to work on LinkedIn data

And here’s who made the cut on a global scale:

companies to work for on a global scale

According to a blog post today from Daniel Roth, executive editor at LinkedIn, researchers analyzed actions such as:

  1. Job applications: Both the views and actual applications on job postings featured on LinkedIn.
  2. Engagement: How many non-employees attempt to view and connect with a company’s employees; views on a company’s career page; reach and engagement of content; growth in followers over the past year, other metrics.
  3. Do they stay? After a new employee joins, how long do they stick around? LinkedIn officials measured both the number of new hires in the last year still working at the company and the percent difference in rate of new hires staying with the company vs. industry peers.

LinkedIn only looked at companies with at least 500 employees. It excluded itself from consideration but included Microsoft, which bid to acquire the Mountain View, Calif.-based social professional network for $26.2 billion last week.

“With the pace of change just accelerating,” Roth wrote, “smart employers know that they have to rewrite their strategies and rethink who they’re competing with to survive. Those companies who can hire better and keep the best (even if only for a short tour of duty) are going to be the ones with better shots at making it to the other side of the transition.”

Cracking the Top Five

So how do these top five US companies get it done?

Google Feeds, Massages

Even if the nap pods and slides are old news at this point, Google is still winning the perks’ race, according to LinkedIn officials. The company’s 60,000 workers get “mountains of food, A-list speakers, on-site massages” and benefits after death. 

“The company obsesses about employee happiness, rigorously studying how to build the perfect team,” according to LinkedIn. “It doesn’t allow managers to make hiring decisions — removing bias — and bases pay on the job, not someone’s prior salary, to close the gender gap.”

Salesforce Monks

Salesforce used Buddhist monks to help design its new San Francisco office space. Salesforce installed “mindfulness zones” and meditation spaces on every floor of its new tower, according to LinkedIn. Salesforce has long offered paid volunteer time off, increasing that this past year from six business days to seven.

Facebook Freedom

“Facebook promises that those people who are builders will get plenty to work with at the company: managers 'set them free' to conquer projects,” LinkedIn officials wrote. Facebook extended last year its four-month paid parental leave program to all full-timers. Revenue has increased by more than 40 percent for 14 straight quarters. It recorded a 34 percent increase in new hires during LinkedIn’s Top Attractors reporting period.

Apple Diversifies

Last year, Apple released restricted stock units to the vast majority of its more than 100,000 employees. Apple’s “transformative” products account for the “essence of employee satisfaction,” HR chief Denise Young Smith said last summer. Ex-employees rave about talented co-workers and great flexibility. The company’s diversifying, too: It hired 11,000 women during a recently reported 12-month period, a 65 percent increase.

Amazon Education

Amazon job applications are up 25 percent since last year. “The company provides excellent salaries and such perks as the Amazon Career Choice Program, which pays 95 percent of tuition for in-demand fields,” LinkedIn officials reported. Amazon Women in Engineering provides ongoing mentorships.

Rethinking Perks

LinkedIn officials found the most attractive companies basically have rewritten the professional code on perks:

  1. Stryker attracts top talent partially by sticking to a (relatively expensive) decentralized structure. As CEO Kevin Lobo explained, business units operate independently, meaning employees can stay closer to end customers and quickly plan, ramp and market new ideas without worrying about corporate cruft.
  2. Westpac Group has stopped assigning desks in multiple offices. Now, employees sit in “neighborhoods,” and can work wherever best suits them: whether that’s a standing desk by the windows or a quiet conference table.
  3. Pandora and the UK’s Lloyds Banking Group now pay for its workers to have gender affirmation surgery.

"At a time when no career can really be planned and no job is ever really secure," Welch wrote, "we seek opportunities that are the most likely to offer immediate impact, an energizing culture and a valuable credential.”

Title image "googlenappod" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by joelogon