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Best Place to Work Bupkis

Last week we went through the painful ritual of listing out the accounting firms blessed with a spot on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work. All the usual suspects made an appearance but ultimately a regional firm, Plante & Moran, took the highest spot among accounting firms (but they didn’t get to ring the closing bell, did they?).

None of this is of interest to you and frankly we’ve had about all we can stand when it comes to these lists but Adrienne pointed us to this post by Laura Vanderkam that takes the debunking to an intricate level, starting with something that we all know, that most of these lists are opted into by the companies HR or Marketing Departments (emphasis ours):

To be eligible for a list, you have to fill out whatever paperwork the tabulators require […] This means that not only do you have to be a great place to work, you have to be a company where management cares about being listed in magazines as a great place to work. Only 311 organizations bothered this year, out of thousands of employers in the US. So if you went through the whole process, your odds were pretty good. But that doesn’t means that the 311 employers that did try are better than the thousands that didn’t.

Our resident math genius is on vacay but if you do some rough calcs, your chances are, what, 1 in 3? Decent odds. Then, comes the strange phenomenon of where these companies fall and why:

[I]t’s strange that a magazine with such great reporters as Fortune relies on such a flimsy methodology for creating their rankings. If you believe this list, then Americans prefer to work at Nugget Market (a 9-store supermarket chain) than at McKinsey, at Google vs. Facebook even though some headline-making defections would point otherwise, and we should want to work at Aeropostale because, as one young employee put it “Where else can you talk to the boss over pizza?” (Um, where can’t you?)

The Trouble With “Best Places To Work” Lists [BNet]