The 20 Best Workplaces in California

Illustrations by Michael Brandon Myers

Of the employers that appear on Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, there are 20 that are headquartered in California. Find out who ranks highest and see the top cities in the state where they have the most workers.

1. Google/Alphabet
Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 1
U.S. employees: 61,814
California cities with the most employees: Mountain View, San Francisco, San Bruno

Last year the tech giant enhanced health care coverage by offering virtual doctor visits, second-opinion services, and breast-cancer screenings at headquarters. One Googler explained, “The company culture truly makes workers feel they’re valued and respected as a human being, not as a cog in a machine. The perks are phenomenal. From three prepared organic meals a day to unlimited snacks, artisanal coffee and tea to free personal-fitness classes, health clinics, on-site oil changes, haircuts, spa truck, bike-repair truck, nap pods, free on-site laundry rooms, and subsidized wash and fold. The list is endless.”

2. Genentech
Headquarters: South San Francisco
100 Best Companies rank: 11
U.S. employees: 13,704
California cities with the most employees: South San Francisco, Vacaville, Oceanside, Dixon

Forty-year-old biotech firm surveyed employees before breaking ground on a new 68,000 square-foot employee center. Among the suggested features to be included: a farmers market, beauty spa, pool tables, massage chairs, televisions, a fitness center with saunas and steam rooms, a primary and urgent care clinic, and a career development hub. Workers enjoy on-campus amenities like nap pods, a new coffee bar, and a cafeteria with Indian and vegan cuisine. Genentech offers a bike storage room and lockers and showers, and pays cyclists $12 each day they commute.

3. Nugget Market
Headquarters: Woodland, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 13
U.S. employees: 1,555
Locations with the most employees: Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento, Roseville, El Dorado Hills

With a culture built on a positive, fun-loving team atmosphere, this family-owned grocery company offers its employees industry-leading wages and healthcare benefits, including 100% company-paid premiums. To qualify, employees are only required to work 22 hours a week. The company has taken their employees snowmobiling and whitewater rafting, and celebrations are an integral part of Nugget’s culture, including everyday recognitions for jobs well done and multiple annual parties at stores. It’s a testament to the company that during its 90-year history, Nugget has never had a single layoff.

4. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
Headquarters: San Francisco
100 Best Companies rank: 20
U.S. employees: 7,754

This chain of boutique hotels and restaurants offers a buffet of benefits that includes six weeks of parental leave, hearing and vision care, backup childcare and elder care, and women’s preventive health. Known as a pet-friendly place, Kimpton provides workers with pet insurance, and even gives people time off to grieve if their pet dies. The company has been a leader in providing benefits for same-sex couples and transgender employees, and has earned a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 11 consecutive years. Senior-managers are eligible for month-long sabbaticals after seven years–but only if they promise to unplug from their work emails and phone calls.

5. Salesforce
Headquarters: San Francisco
100 Best Companies rank: 23
U.S. employees: 11,723
Location with the most employees: San Francisco

This global cloud computing company knows how to give back: CEO Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, have become San Francisco’s favorite philanthropists, rivaling the legendary Levi Strauss. Their most spectacular donation has been $200 million for a new children’s hospital bearing their names. This social commitment is an extension of the company’s culture: has logged over 1.3 million volunteer hours and donated more than $100 million in grants. Employees receive seven paid days a year to volunteer, and one employee told us: “We have the flexibility and support to volunteer on our own, yet be supported by the company.” To prove it, staff member donations are matched, dollar for dollar, by the company.

6. Cooley
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 28
U.S. employees: 1,694

This Silicon Valley-based law firm advises top tech companies—like Facebook, Yelp! and Google. Attorneys receive the same credit for pro bono hours as they do for paid work. To decompress, the firm holds Nintendo Wii dance-offs, outdoor movie nights, and family Halloween Spooktaculars. Partners are compensated based on their overall contribution to the firm, not merely the amount of business they bring in. One employee told us, “There are no big egos or hierarchical structures.”

7. Workday
Headquarters: Pleasanton, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 31
U.S. employees: 4,250

Many companies celebrate “Bring Your Kids to Work Day,” but this cloud-based HR and finance software maker has “Bring Your Parents to Workday.” The company has grown fast over the past few years. Every new hire receives a backpack with a laptop, a branded license plate cover, a Workday baseball jersey with their employee number, and a pair of red socks, to be worn on the last day of the quarter as per company tradition. Holiday parties and after-hours cantina parties are employee favorites here.

8. Intuit
Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 34
U.S. employees: 6,300
California cities with the most employees: Mountain View, San Diego, Menlo Park, San Francisco

Developer of Turbo Tax, QuickBooks, and Mint financial management solutions allows employees to spend 10% of their time on projects and ideas of their own, even if they are not related to their jobs. Intuit says that this unstructured time has given birth to some of their best products. Silicon Valley-based company also listens to its employees. After surveying what working parents wanted in the way of benefits, back came the answer: more time off. Intuit promptly increased paid parental leave from two to eight weeks.

9. Riot Games
Headquarters: Los Angeles
100 Best Companies rank: 39
U.S. employees: 1,304
Location with the most employees: Los Angeles

Riot Games, maker of the popular video game League of Legends, welcomes new Rioters not with paperwork, but with “Denewbification”: an intensive immersion that starts with–what else?–a session of gaming. If new hires decide Riot’s not a fit before the end of their first 60 days, they will be offered up to 10% of their annual salary (up to $25,000) as an incentive to quit. As part of an open paid-time-off policy, the company places no limit on vacation or sick days spent outside of the office. It’s up to Rioters to design what kind of schedule works for them, and to stay home when they’re not feeling well.

10. VMware
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 40
U.S. employees: 7,785
Location with the most employees: Palo Alto

The Palo Alto-based maker of virtualization software has a 105-acre campus with more than 1,500 trees, including an oasis of 75 palm trees and a skyway. The onsite gym offers a class in “Mindfulness for Techies,” and there are courses in meditation, tai-chi, and yoga. If that’s not enough, the company pays for employees to participate in the “Chill Program,” a five-week stress-management course. The campus welcomes dogs and provides doggie waste bags and receptacles.

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11. Scripps Health
Headquarters: San Diego
100 Best Companies rank: 42
U.S. employees: 13,281
California cities with the most employees: San Diego and La Jolla

Professional opportunities abound for workers at this non-profit San Diego-based health system. Scripps offers up to $7,300 per year for tuition reimbursement and scholarships, and they have more than 1,876 training and continuing education courses available. The company also provides career coaching, and enables employees to work dual assignments and transfer to other jobs throughout the system. Scripps offers onsite childcare, more than 100 fitness weekly classes, five Employee Care Clinics, and they grant both fathers and mothers 30 days maternity leave. Workers on the lower end of the wage spectrum get a discount on their health care premiums.

12. Cadence
Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 52
U.S. employees: 2,643
Location with the most employees: San Jose

Maker of products for designing semiconductors that are used in PCs, smartphones, cars, and countless other electronic devices, Cadence has a remarkably low turnover rate of about 6.5% a year. What’s more, some 45% of this firm’s U.S. workforce has been here for more than ten years. That’s remarkable considering that more than half of their U.S.-based employees are based in the heart of Silicon Valley. They attribute their ability to retain folks largely on a culture devoted to innovation. The company also pays well and has the usual litany of Silicon Valley perks like dry cleaning, massage, and a gift wrapping service during the holidays. Last Cadence introduced new benefits programs to support adoption and fertility preservation.

13. Autodesk
Headquarters: San Rafael, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 54
U.S. employees: 3,865
California cities with the most employees: San Francisco and San Rafael

Industry-leading design software firm sends its top sales people (and their guests) on all-expense paid week-long trip to places like Paris, Thailand, Hawaii, and Rome. A sabbatical program provides six weeks of paid time off after every four years of full-time service. “It is truly extraordinary,” says a manager. “We cover for one another and back each other up when a colleague is out, and while that can be a tough extra workload, you know that your turn will come and others will give back to you.

14. Protiviti
Headquarters: Menlo Park, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 57
U.S. employees: 2,048

California cities with the most employees: Bay Area and Los Angeles

Many ascend the ranks quickly at this global consulting and internal audit firm, thanks to extensive on-site training “Learning Maps” that identifies next steps, and a team that matches employees with hot opportunities. Each summer, about 250 interns get an eight-week deep dive into life as a Protiviti consultant, and more than 90% receive a job offer. At the close of their week-long training during the start of summer, interns attend the ‘Tiv Awards,” a glam Oscars-style event with trophy awards like “Best Business Casual” and “Class Clown.” Employees who go “above and beyond” receive points that can be redeemed for everything from books and clothing, to a bicycle or an option to plant a tree.

15. Activision Blizzard
Headquarters: Santa Monica
100 Best Companies rank: 77
U.S. employees: 4,773
California cities with the most employees: Santa Monica, Irvine, Woodland Hills

Maker of mega-entertainment franchises like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty encourages employees to “make fun” and “embrace their inner geek.” On the day of the annual release of Call of Duty, workers from all levels don costumes and participate in a company-wide squirt gun battle. One employee described the event as “the best day of my life every year.” In an industry with a reputation for male-centricity, AB has set up a networking group where women can discuss their experiences and favorite games. The firm has also added more female avatars to its games.

16. Cisco Systems
Headquarters: San Jose
100 Best Companies rank: 82
U.S. employees: 35,549
Location with the most employees: San Jose

Maker of such network products as routers and switchers, which help computer users connect to the internet, Cisco is also a serial acquirer of other companies. Since its founding in 1984, the company has bought 186 companies. They also acquired a new CEO last year, Chuck Robbins, who replaced John Chambers, who had held the reins since 1995. Cisco has achieved strong recognition in Silicon Valley as a leader in work-life programs. More than 3,000 employees now do their jobs from home, and has a state-of-the-art child care center with 600 kids.

17. Adobe Systems
Headquarters: San Jose, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 87
U.S. employees: 6,302
California cities with the most employees: San Jose and San Francisco

Veteran Silicon Valley software developer of such digital media and marketing products as Acrobat, Photoshop, and Adobe Analytics knows the value of giving its workers time away from the office to rejuvenate. Employees can take a paid sabbatical of four weeks every five years in addition to PTO. New moms can take 26 weeks fully paid maternity leave, and there are week-long shutdowns twice a year. For those grinding away at the office, Adobe has an on-site fitness center and and provides subsidized healthy meals in downtown San Jose.

18. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
Headquarters: San Francisco
100 Best Companies rank: 91
U.S. employees: 1,460
Areas with the most employees: San Francisco and Silicon Valley

Attorneys and staff at Orrick get plenty of guidance and support from mentors and coaches that give tips on career, writing, MBA courses and what it’s like to be a new parent. Partners also receive $3,500 to hire a business development coach to help improve skills. To spur better solutions, any employee can compete for the firm’s “Innovation Prize,” with $50,000 going to the team member with the best idea to improve the firm. Orrick also offers flexible work schedules, and in each of the past three years, part-time associates have been promoted to become partners.

19. First American
Headquarters: Santa Ana, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 94
U.S. employees: 11,241
California cities with the most employees: Santa Ana and Santa Rosa

Newcomer to the 100 Best Companies, First American bills itself as “Guardians of the American Dream” by providing title insurance, settlement services and home warranties for the real estate industry from its more than 800 offices in the U.S. Every year, FA sponsors “Team Build” events, giving employees paid time off to participate in Habitat for Humanity and other housing-related charities. Philanthropic efforts align with the mission. One employee explains, “First American participates with Habitat for Humanity because we have some of the same beliefs. We want to see people get into homes who could normally not purchase homes.”

20. The Cheesecake Factory
Headquarters: Calabasas Hills, Calif.
100 Best Companies rank: 98
U.S. employees: 35,664
California cities with the most employees: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Calabasas Hills

Operating 201 restaurants with an eclectic menu, large portions, and signature cheesecakes, the company currently has a targeted recruiting program to find kitchen jobs for military veterans. Since the company has a long history of promoting from within, many of these folks may find themselves in top roles: 100% of their general managers, executive kitchen managers and area field leaders were hired internally, and started in either hourly jobs or as first-level managers. As part of their onboarding process, the company makes sure to ask new employees a key question: “What is your favorite cheesecake flavor?” Prior to their first day, their favorite cheesecake is sent to their home so they can enjoy it with family and friends.

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To see the full list of this year’s best employers in the U.S., visit, where you can also find job searching tips, career advice, and secrets from recruiters on how to get hired.


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