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These Are the 100 Best Companies to Work For

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When you’re looking to start a career or make the transition to a new company, there are a lot of factors to consider. Once you’ve decided on the best location, things like salary and benefits, job satisfaction, and how well employees get along with one another come into play. For its annual list of The 100 Best Companies to Work For, Fortune partnered with Great Place to Work to conduct what it calls “the most extensive employee survey in corporate America."

And the winner is? Google—for the seventh year in a row.

In explaining its methodology, Fortune said that two-thirds of the overall company scores were taken from the Trust Index Employee Survey, which surveys a sample from each company to determine how employees feel about their peers and management. The final third came from Great Place to Work’s Culture Audit, which focuses on things like compensation, hiring practices, and diversity efforts.

The financial sector is well represented in the top 100, as are loan and insurance companies—with the exception of Google, large tech companies are notably absent. Other familiar names on the list include Wegmans Food Markets (No. 4), The Container Store (No. 14), Build-A-Bear Workshop (No. 45), and The Cheesecake Factory (No. 98). Check out the full list below.

1. Google (Alphabet)
2. ACUITY Insurance
3. The Boston Consulting Group
4. Wegmans Food Markets
5. Quicken Loans
6. Robert W Baird & Co
7. Kimley-Horn
8. SAS
9. Camden Property Trust
10. Edward Jones
11. Genentech
12. W L Gore & Associates
13. Nugget Market
14. The Container Store
15. Ultimate Software
16. Burns & McDonnell
17. David Weekley Homes
18. CHG Healthcare Services
19. NuStar Energy
20. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
21. Stryker
22. Hilcorp
23. Salesforce
24. ARI
25. Baptist Health South Florida
26. Recreational Equipment Inc (REI)
27. Credit Acceptance
28. Cooley
29. Southern Ohio Medical Center
30. Veterans United Home Loans
31. Workday
32. Baker Donelson
33. Plante Moran
34. Intuit
35. St Jude Children’s Research Hospital
36. USAA
37. Perkins Coie
38. World Wide Technology
39. Riot Games
40. VMware
41. Alston & Bird
42. Scripps Health
43. KPMG
44. Navy Federal Credit Union
45. Build-A-Bear Workshop
46. Texas Health Resources
47. Hyatt Hotels Corporation
48. Hyland, creator of OnBase
49. Ernst & Young
50. Aflac
51. Goldman Sachs
52. Cadence
53. PwC
54. Autodesk
55. Novo Nordisk
56. Hilton Worldwide
57. Protiviti
58. CustomInk
59. Power Home Remodeling Group
60. PCL Construction Enterprises
61. OC Tanner Company
62. Arthrex
63. IKEA Holding US
64. American Fidelity Assurance Company
65. TDIndustries
66. JM Family Enterprises
67. Publix Super Markets
68. OhioHealth
69. Encompass Home Health and Hospice
70. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
71. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
72. Regeneron
73. Roche Diagnostics
74. TEKsystems
75. Whole Foods Market
76. QuikTrip
77. Activision Blizzard
78. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
79. Atlantic Health System
80. Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America
81. Arnold & Porter
82. Cisco Systems
83. Marriott International
84. Accenture
85. CarMax
86. Mayo Clinic
87. Adobe
88. Capital One Financial
89. FactSet Research Systems
90. Deloitte
91. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe
92. Nordstrom
93. WellStar Health System
94. First American
95. GoDaddy
96. American Express
97. Sheetz
98. The Cheesecake Factory Incorporated
99. Mars
100. Slalom

[h/t Fortune]

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A.C. Gilbert, the Toymaker Who (Actually) Saved Christmas 
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was told he had 15 minutes to convince the United States government not to cancel Christmas.

For hours, he paced the outer hall, awaiting his turn before the Council of National Defense. With him were the tools of his trade: toy submarines, air rifles, and colorful picture books. As government personnel walked by, Gilbert, bashful about his cache of kid things, tried hiding them behind a leather satchel.

Finally, his name was called. It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.

Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.

Gilbert held up an air rifle and began to talk. What he’d say next would determine the fate of the entire toy industry.

Even if he had never had to testify on behalf of Christmas toys, A.C. Gilbert would still be remembered for living a remarkable life. Born in Oregon in 1884, Gilbert excelled at athletics, once holding the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault during the 1908 Games. In 1909, he graduated from Yale School of Medicine with designs on remaining in sports as a health advisor.

But medicine wasn’t where Gilbert found his passion. A lifelong performer of magic, he set his sights on opening a business selling illusionist kits. The Mysto Manufacturing Company didn’t last long, but it proved to Gilbert that he had what it took to own and operate a small shingle. In 1916, three years after introducing the Erector sets, he renamed Mysto the A.C. Gilbert Company.

Erector was a big hit in the burgeoning American toy market, which had typically been fueled by imported toys from Germany. Kids could take the steel beams and make scaffolding, bridges, and other small-development projects. With the toy flying off shelves, Gilbert’s factory in New Haven, Connecticut grew so prosperous that he could afford to offer his employees benefits that were uncommon at the time, like maternity leave and partial medical insurance.

Gilbert’s reputation for being fair and level-headed led the growing toy industry to elect him their president for the newly created Toy Manufacturers of America, an assignment he readily accepted. But almost immediately, his position became something other than ceremonial: His peers began to grow concerned about the country’s involvement in the war and the growing belief that toys were a dispensable effort.

President Woodrow Wilson had appointed a Council of National Defense to debate these kinds of matters. The men were so preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. marching into a European conflict that something as trivial as a pull-string toy or chemistry set seemed almost insulting to contemplate. Several toy companies agreed to convert to munitions factories, as did Gilbert. But when the Council began discussing a blanket prohibition on toymaking and even gift-giving, Gilbert was given an opportunity to defend his industry.

Before Gilbert was allowed into the Council’s chambers, a Naval guard inspected each toy for any sign of sabotage. Satisfied, he allowed Gilbert in. Among the officials sitting opposite him were Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

“The greatest influences in the life of a boy are his toys,” Gilbert said. “Yet through the toys American manufacturers are turning out, he gets both fun and an education. The American boy is a genuine boy and wants genuine toys."

He drew an air rifle, showing the committee members how a child wielding less-than-lethal weapons could make for a better marksman when he was old enough to become a soldier. He insisted construction toys—like the A.C. Gilbert Erector Set—fostered creative thinking. He told the men that toys provided a valuable escape from the horror stories coming out of combat.

Armed with play objects, a boy’s life could be directed toward “construction, not destruction,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert then laid out his toys for the board to examine. Secretary Daniels grew absorbed with a toy submarine, marveling at the detail and asking Gilbert if it could be bought anywhere in the country. Other officials examined children’s books; one began pushing a train around the table.

The word didn’t come immediately, but the expressions on the faces of the officials told the story: Gilbert had won them over. There would be no toy or gift embargo that year.

Naturally, Gilbert still devoted his work floors to the production efforts for both the first and second world wars. By the 1950s, the A.C. Gilbert Company was dominating the toy business with products that demanded kids be engaged and attentive. Notoriously, he issued a U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with four types of uranium ore. “Completely safe and harmless!” the box promised. A Geiger counter was included. At $50 each, Gilbert lost money on it, though his decision to produce it would earn him a certain infamy in toy circles.

“It was not suitable for the same age groups as our simpler chemistry and microscope sets, for instance,” he once said, “and you could not manufacture such a thing as a beginner’s atomic energy lab.”

Gilbert’s company reached an astounding $20 million in sales in 1953. By the mid-1960s, just a few years after Gilbert's death in 1961, it was gone, driven out of business by the apathy of new investors. No one, it seemed, had quite the same passion for play as Gilbert, who had spent over half a century providing fun and educational fare that kids were ecstatic to see under their trees.

When news of the Council’s 1918 decision reached the media, The Boston Globe's front page copy summed up Gilbert’s contribution perfectly: “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

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Ho, No: Christmas Trees Will Be Expensive and Scarce This Year
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The annual tradition of picking out the healthiest, densest, biggest tree that you can tie to your car’s roof and stuff in your living room won’t be quite the same this year. According to The New York Times, Christmas trees will be scarce in some parts of the country and markedly more expensive overall.

The reason? Not Krampus, Belsnickel, or Scrooge, but something even more miserly: the American economy. The current situation has roots in 2008, when families were buying fewer trees due to the recession. Because more trees stayed in the ground, tree farms planted fewer seeds that year. And since firs grow in cycles of 8 to 10 years, we’re now arriving at a point where that diminished supply is beginning to impact the tree industry.

New York Times reporter Tiffany Hsu reports that 2017’s healthier holiday spending habits are set to drive up the price of trees as consumers vie for the choicest cuts on the market. In 2008, trees were just under $40 on average. Now, they’re $75 or more.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice tree at a decent price—just that some farms will run out of prime selections more quickly and you might have to settle for something a little less impressive than in years past. Tree industry experts also caution that the shortages could last through 2025.

[h/t New York Times]

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