Various organisations internationally compile information on which companies make the best employers. Two of the most well-known lists of top companies to work for come from Fortune Magazine in the USA and the Sunday Times in the UK. Both publications compile lists of the 100 best companies in their respective countries. We look at the top five from each.Fortune top fiveFortune Magazine conducts the most extensive employee survey in corporate America, its data is much respected and companies eagerly await the annual results. Criteria include employees’ opinions on management’s credibility, job satisfaction and camaraderie, as well company-supplied information regarding pay and benefit programmes, hiring, communication and diversity.1) SAS is the world’s largest privately owned software company. Last year, 2009, it was ranked 20 on Fortune’s list, which means its ascendency has been astounding. Company highlights include unlimited sick days, a free medical centre, a free fitness centre, a lending library, child care facilities, and a summer camp for kids. It also pays 90 per cent of employees’ health insurance premiums, and allows for telecommuting and compressed work weeks.2) Edward Jones is an investment advisor and is distinguished by its claim that not a single employee was retrenched during the recession. It doesn’t offer quite the same number of benefits as SAS, but it does have subsidised gym membership and allows for telecommuting and compressed work weeks.3) Wegmans is a grocery store franchise and it does one better than Edward Jones’s boast of not laying anyone off during the recession; according to Wegmens, it has never laid anyone off, not in 94 years of operation. Its benefits are also not as great as SAS, but as 11 per cent of the workforce have been there for more than 15 years, the family environment and job satisfaction more than make up for it.4) Google, for all its famous perks is not the top employer that it once was, although holding onto its fourth position on the list means that it’s by no means near the worst. The recession took its toll on Google employees (meal-time perks were cut back, which is almost sacrilege) but the company has managed to keep the ones that are most important, such as engineers being allowed to devote 20 per cent of their working day to projects of their own. It also retains onsite child care, 100 per cent health care cover and telecommuting.5) Nugget Market is a supermarket chain that has worked its way up from 10th spot in 2009. Aside from 100 per cent health care coverage it doesn’t offer many big benefits, but as the company’s employees demonstrate, sometimes the little things count more. For instance, to combat the effects of the recession, Nugget started giving associates discounts on their monthly groceries. There are also regular employee-appreciation events.The Sunday Times top five1) Nando’s makes its Sunday Times list debut at number one. The restaurant chain, which originated in South Africa, is a clear favourite among its employees in almost all categories. It scored the best overall marks for Wellbeing (70 per cent), as well as manager and team perception (76 and 79 per cent respectively). It came second overall for Leadership (75 per cent) and scored highly for Personal Growth (72 per cent). The sunshine doesn’t end there, employees also waxed lyrical about their love for working at Nando’s (80 per cent) and the strong feeling of family (81 per cent). Furthermore, the chain is committed to employee development with 75 per cent of budget reserved for learning and development programmes.2) Goldman Sachs also makes an impressive debut on the list. Unlike most financial institutions that have suffered greatly (reputation-wise) during the economic downturn, employees at Goldman Sachs are supremely confident in their leaders, the principles of the organisation and the direction in which the company is headed (87 per cent, 87 per cent and 80 per cent respectively). Furthermore, employees believe that profit is not the organisation’s sole goal (61 per cent) and that its support for worthy causes is not driven by publicity (62 per cent).3) Sytner Group is a prestige car retailer that has moved up three places from 2009 to 2010. Employees are proud to work for the company (80 per cent) and love their jobs (74 per cent). This may have something to do with the team building activities held at regular intervals throughout the year, such as boat trips and barbecues. Employees also think their colleagues are fun to work with (82 per cent of) and are excited about the company’s future (73 per cent). Perks include child care vouchers and flexible working hours.4) PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also moved up three places to land 4th place, this may have something to do with the fact that employees believe that the opportunities to grow and learn within the organisation are limitless (70 per cent). They consider their work stimulating (75 per cent) and have confidence in the team of senior management team (77 per cent). The company be proud of the fact that their employees are proud to work there (82 per cent).5) Mothercare and Early Learning Centre leapt up from 13th place in 2009. As one would expect from an organisation devoted to children and learning, the workplace has an emphasis on fun -employees consider their colleagues fun to work with (83 per cent), and their jobs to be “far from dull” (69 per cent). The company offers free life assurance cover for everyone. Furthermore, the organisation makes allowances for flexible working hours and allows employees to work from home.All of the companies on each of these lists embrace the philosophy that happy employees are productive employees and productive employees mean higher ROI. Not all companies can afford free medical cover, but as some of the companies above demonstrate, it’s the recognition, the appreciation and the gestures that count. Every little bit counts.