The other day I heard a knock on my door and when I went to open it, two young gentlemen appeared in collared shirts and khakis. They said they were in the neighborhood working on replacing windows for a neighbor and wanted to know if I would like a free estimate for replacing my windows. They seemed pretty knowledgeable – about the age of my house, the type of trees in my yard, the neighborhood in general. At this point, I normally would have said, “no thank you” but they were nice and eager, so we started chatting. They asked what I do, and I told them “workforce consulting” and explained what that was. The quieter of the two chimed in and said that their company was number one on the “Best Places to Work for Millennials” list. I could tell he was beaming with pride. I had never heard of the company and thought this must be some local or regional list. I asked if the company deserved to top the list,  and they told me it was – great benefits, lots of opportunity for promotion, pays well, fun work environment. All the things that we usually hear from millennials in our work.

We finished our conversation, and I looked them up. They made the Fortune 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015. This was not a local/regional list. This was a nationally known ranking. They beat out big names like Google, Boston Consulting Group, Chili’s (these made the list, but not in the top 5). I was surprised to see some lesser-known companies at the top when all you hear from millennials is their desire to work for places like Google or Twitter or Facebook.

Almost every week one of these companies is in the news for something related to their workplace – whether it’s the office design, a new benefit, etc. Sometimes people (I’m guilty) make assumptions about places to work because of their consumer reputation or what I’ve heard in the news. I know I did for Amazon, but come to find out, it’s very different (well, if you believe the New York Times).

This is all to say, you don’t have to be Google to make a Best Places to Work List. These companies do press really well, but there’s no secret to that – any company can do it. They are helping candidates form their opinions. Lists like the Fortune one are a great start for companies dipping their toes in PR. I worked for a small startup consulting firm a few years ago, and we applied for a regional Best Places to Work list, and we made it! It did wonders for our reputation and credibility, not to mention staff morale to be externally validated.

It makes me really happy to see companies like Power Home Remodeling Group and David Weekley Homes – two relatively under the radar companies – top a list that can play a significant role in a millennial’s job search. It’s time that companies stop comparing themselves to these behemoths, focus on what makes them standout, and shout it from the rooftops because every company has something great to offer candidates. It’s finding out what that is and, not just stopping there, communicating it to the people you want working for you. 

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps organizations build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale and grow the right way.

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