The World’s Employers Are Getting Better (Really)

October 26, 2016, 11:00 AM UTC
David Wakely Photography

Working the night shift, it can be easy to feel disconnected from the big picture of what’s happening at your employer. To make up for that, the German division of Hyatt Hotels invites its overnight crew to regular breakfasts with upper management at an on-site restaurant to discuss workplace concerns.

It’s a small but telling example of how, around the world, great workplaces are working to be great for everybody—not just for top executives, but for night shift staff, employees working thousands of miles from the headquarters, and people in all demographic groups.

The best workplaces take care of their employees by offering compensation that’s fair and aligned to their abilities. They also recognize a job well done, and give people the guidance and support they need to advance in their careers, take care of their families, and be good citizens of their respective communities and the world.

Great Place to Work came to these conclusions after a careful examination of data we collected to compile the sixth annual list of the 25 World’s Best Multinational Workplaces.

For 2016, Google ranks No. 1, marking the fourth straight year the technology giant has occupied the lead spot. The other top five on this year’s list are software firm SAS Institute, specialty manufacturer W.L. Gore & Associates, information technology company Dell EMC (formerly EMC Corp.), and Daimler Financial Services.

The World’s Best Workplaces Are Great for All

The top multinational workplaces aren’t always what you’d expect. They’re not limited to certain parts of the world, headcounts or industries. The 2016 list winners are headquartered in 10 countries but have employees on every continent. The smallest, Cadence Design Systems, has fewer than 6,200 employees. The largest, EY, has more than 231,000. Winners come from a variety of industries, including technology (eight companies); manufacturing and production (six); hospitality, financial services, and professional services (three each); and retail (two each).

Landing a spot on the list is a striking achievement, given the challenges of creating a positive, unifying workplace across many nationalities, languages and cultural contexts. And it comes with a payoff. As a growing mound of evidence shows, companies that learn to cultivate a great workplace in their home country and in other countries they operate in will innovate faster, enjoy faster growth and see better financial returns.

Also worth noting is the momentum of the great workplaces for all movement. At the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces, employee perceptions of their company cultures have improved over the past six years, according to the Trust Index employee survey that Great Place to Work uses to measure levels of trust, pride and camaraderie.

It’s not just employees at the World’s Best Multinationals who feel good about what they do and where they work. From 2015 to 2016, trust levels rose at the national Best Workplaces in 25 of 36 countries or regions where we conduct surveys. Dating back to 2010, those national benchmark scores on our Trust Index survey have improved in 23 of 31 countries or regions surveyed.

There’s still more cause for optimism. From 2011 to 2016, the number of organizations around the world meeting our minimum standard of a great workplace almost doubled as measured by employee survey scores and our Best Workplaces rankings. The figure climbed from roughly 2,200 workplaces with a total of about 6 million total employees in 2011 to roughly 4,100 workplaces and nearly 7 million employees in 2016.

“The near-doubling of workplaces globally that meet our certification standard is an encouraging sign that the Great Place to Work For ALL movement is catching on around the world,” said Kim Peters, executive vice president of Great Place to Work’s certification program. “Regardless of where they’re located or what they offer, more and more organizations realize that high-trust workplaces—where every employee’s potential is realized—are good for business and good for our global society.”

What the Best Multinationals Say about Great Workplaces

Taking a deeper look into the 2016 World’s Best Multinationals shows what a great workplace for all looks like. For one, it’s egalitarian, with policies and practices that aren’t limited to certain classes of employees, like executives. Some examples:

  • SAS Institutes’ Netherlands’ office started a “SAS Einsteins” advisory board comprised of young, entry-level workers who share their opinions and outlooks with management. In the past year, the Einsteins group created several initiatives, including a food bank to give food to people in need.
  • At W.L. Gore & Associates, all employees receive the same stock, 401(k), and retirement contributions, regardless of position.


Great workplaces for all don’t stop at providing for employees. They look beyond their own walls for opportunities to help employees’ families and communities, and to help business partners and the world at large:

  • Mars joined the World Cocoa Foundation’s CocoaAction campaign to improve the livelihoods of 300,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. The company committed to buying 100% of the cocoa used in making its candy bars and other products from certified sources by 2020, and has made similar pledges to use sustainable sources for fish and seafood, palm oil, black tea, and coffee.
  • NetApp employees get paid time off for volunteer work, whether they’re full time (5 days), part-time (3 days), interns (1 day), or new hires (eligible after their first day of work). Employees can take five consecutive days off to volunteer at an organization of their choice. Employees with technical skills can get even more time off to work on NetApp-approved projects.


Great workplaces for all aren’t afraid to examine their own practices to ferret out biases. Not only that, they celebrate the differences that make employees unique:

  • Cadence Design Systems conducts annual audits to see if the company’s compensation practices are fair. The latest audit showed that this year women employees received relatively equal merit increases, promotions, and stock grants as men. The company says it’s looking for other ways to improve pay equity.
  • Autodesk built a float for San Francisco’s annual Pride Celebration decorated it with employees’ statements on what pride means to them. Everyone who provided a statement had their name entered in a drawing for round-trip tickets for two to come to the city for the event, with winners chosen from each region where the company operates. A prize winner from Autodesk’s Bucharest, Romania, office proposed to his boyfriend on the Golden Gate Bridge the day before the parade.


These are only a few of the practices that have made this year’s top multinational workplace stand out. By cultivating practices that keep every employee feeling informed, valued and in touch with how they fit into the big picture, and by looking past their own interests to the interests of the communities and regions they serve, great workplaces show that they can be great for all.


Ed Frauenheim and Tabitha Russell are director of research and content, and certification program manager, respectively, at Great Place to Work, the longtime research partner for Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For and other best workplaces lists, including the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces.