The best practices at the Best Places to Work turn out to be pretty straightforward:
Fair pay. Solid benefits.
Recruit and retain a diverse workforce. Keep staffing levels adequate so team members and teams can do their best work.
Provide good training and keep employees in the loop on how the business is doing. Tilt work-life balance a bit more toward life.
Easy to say—and hard to do. Ad Age Best Places to Work 2023 honors 50 companies for a job well done last year amid the challenges of a tight talent pool, uncertain economy and ongoing effects of the pandemic.
The winners—top companies with more than 200 employees and top companies with 200 or fewer employees—reflect the highest overall scores based on an analysis of questionnaires submitted by employers and survey responses from employees.
The winning companies outscored other workplaces in factors ranging from pay and benefits to corporate culture and leadership.
Perceptions about pay and benefits are a key differentiator.
Employees at winning companies felt better about their overall compensation package than did employees at companies in the competition that didn’t make the ranking.
The best places over-indexed on the employee survey’s two most basic statements on pay and benefits:
The winners outperformed on specific offerings such as employee satisfaction with tuition reimbursement benefits and health care coverage.
The Ad Age Best Places to Work 2023 ranking was produced by Best Companies Group, a research firm specializing in identifying and recognizing great places to work.
Best Companies Group conducted the surveys, analyzed the data and determined the winners.
Who made the grade
The 50 winners include a strong showing of ad tech ventures (12), digital agencies (eight), marketing agencies (eight), ad agencies (seven) and media agencies (six).
The winners tally also includes four health care agencies, two event/experiential marketing agencies, two public relations agencies and one branding agency.
Among the 50 winners, nearly a third—16—have their headquarters in the New York metro area (13 in Manhattan, one in Brooklyn, two in Fairfield County, Connecticut).
Dallas-Fort Worth, the Los Angeles metro area and the Philadelphia metro area each are home to four winners.
How employees rate their employers
The employee engagement and satisfaction survey included a set of statements that employees responded to (from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”) along with some open-ended and demographic questions. This made up 75% of the overall score.
Beyond positive perceptions about pay and benefits, employees at winning workplaces gave their companies high marks on key points including:
- “Staffing levels are adequate to provide quality products/services.”
- “I have a good understanding of how this organization is doing financially.”
- “This organization provided as much initial training as I needed.”
- “This organization provides as much ongoing training as I need.”
- “If I do good work, I will be rewarded.”
- “Deadlines at this organization are realistic.”
- “This organization effectively communicates its progress towards meeting departmental goals.”
- “Changes that may affect me are communicated to me prior to implementation.”
- “I believe my job is secure.”
The statement about adequate staffing levels was a significant differentiator in the employee survey, scoring the biggest difference in positive responses between staffers who worked at winning companies and staffers who worked at companies that didn’t make the ranking.
The employee survey covered pay and benefits and seven other core focus areas. The best companies did better than the rest in all of these areas.
Two areas—pay and benefits; training, development and resources—proved to be the biggest differentiators based on employee responses, with a nearly 5-point advantage in the percentage of positive responses for winners versus companies in the competition that didn’t make the ranking.
The best places outscored other workplaces by about 4 percentage points in four areas based on employee responses: corporate culture and communications, leadership, role satisfaction and overall engagement.
The two remaining areas—work environment and relationship with supervisor—were smaller differentiators for the best companies versus others.
How employers get the job done
The employer questionnaire covered a company’s policies, practices, benefits and demographics. This made up 25% of the overall score.
On this questionnaire, the winning companies outscored other entrants in such areas as:
Pay and benefits:
- Paid sabbaticals.
- Tuition reimbursement.
- Allowing employees additional paid time off for community service activities or volunteer work.
- Diversity and inclusion programs (90% of the winners have a diversity and inclusion task force or committee).
- Ongoing diversity training.
Recruitment, training and development:
- Recruitment and retention programs for older workers, veterans, employees who may require accommodations for mental or physical limitations and employees of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
- Formalized programs/practices for succession planning.
- Productivity or time management workshops, seminars or classes.
- Financial education workshops, seminars or classes.
- On-site personal development and/or stress management workshops, seminars or classes.
- Fitness and/or wellness programs or practices within the workplace.
- Option to work flexible hours or a compressed work week.
Virtually all of the winning companies offer telecommuting options for employees. But that’s not a differentiator—nearly all companies that entered the competition have telecommuting options.
On average, about 88% of employees at Best Places winners were telecommuting in 2022, down from 100% after the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 but far above the pre-pandemic telecommuting level of 22%.
About Ad Age Best Places to Work 2023
The Ad Age Best Places to Work 2023 competition was open to agencies, ad tech firms, brand or corporate marketing departments or groups and in-house agencies of marketers.
To be eligible, a company must have headquarters in North America, or have a North America headquarters or main office if world headquarters is outside of North America; a minimum of 15 full-time employees; and be in business a minimum of one year.
Learn more: Bestplacestoworkadage.com