My company, Brazen Careerist, partnered with PayScale to come up with a list of the Top 50 Employers for Gen Y. The list is based on what we at Brazen Careerist know about Gen Y and the new workplace, and what PayScale knows about slicing and dicing workplace data.

To me, the most interesting thing about Top 50 lists like this is the assumptions behind them. So here are the assumptions I think are interesting:

1. Salary negotiations are over.
In most polls, if you ask Gen Y what they care about when choosing a place to work, the top three things will be, in varying orders: flexibility, interesting work, and likable co-workers.

You will notice that salary is missing from the list. Many people assume this is because Gen Y doesn't care about salary. In fact, they care a lot. No generation has more debt than Gen Y, and no generation is more financially knowledgeable so early on in their lives as Gen Y.

Gen Y doesn't consider salary to be a huge factor in choosing a place to work because Gen Y knows that salary data is public. The days when a company can screw you by underpaying you are over. Anyone can go to a place like Payscale and find out what other people in a similar geographic location are getting paid for a similar job.

So for Gen Y, going to a company that pays fair wages is like going to a company that hires people who aren't white. It's so obvious that companies need to do that that we shouldn't even be having a discussion about it.

So the Brazen Careerist Top 50 does not ignore salary. We do assume any decent company pays fair wages, but we give a slight reward to companies that pay extra high wages to young workers.

2. Social entrepreneurship is stupid.
It's stupid because you don't' need to be calling yourself a social entrepreneur in order to save the world. We no longer divide the world into non-profit people who are do-gooders and for-profit people who are money-grubbers. We are all here to do good. After all, what else is worth living for?

So we all want to work at companies that enable us to be doing something good. We gauge this by tracking which companies have green programs. Green programs aren't the only way to do good, but it's a decent indication of how companies see their place in the world.

If a company has a strong green initiative it's because they understand the value of being a good corporate citizen. And companies like that know that employees want to feel good about the organization they work for, and the difference they make in the world.

3. Self-reported flexible workplaces are BS.
Flexibility is not something that Gen Y wants. It's something everyone wants. The idea that we are going to run our lives around our work is ridiculous. It doesn't work. We want to make each aspect of our life work well with the other aspects.

Companies know that everyone wants a flexible workplace, so every company says they offer that. No kidding. Even a company like Deloitte, known for insane hours and heavy, heavy travel, has a whole initiative to promote a flexible workplace.

Okay. So if everyone is touting flexibility, how do you really judge? In our Top 50 list we judge by how close a company gets to hiring 50% women. This is not scientifically proven, but it is true that while all demographics complain about inflexible hours, women will leave the company over it.

Caveat: I have said in the past that there is an underlying level of BS to every Top 50 list. You already knew that, though (and here’s a forum to talk about that). What you might not know, though, is that if you take the time to evaluate a top 50 list, it forces you to think about what values and programs you rank when you look at companies, and what top three things you would care most about. There might not be a list for what you want, but there is an inner compass, and the more you use it, the more quickly you get where you need to go.

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  1. Francine
    Francine says:

    Didn’t Merck just get bought out by Sanofi? Last I heard they were laying off by the thousands–everyone from field sales to home office staff and R&D, because they have duplicates of almost everything. Doubtful they will be hiring anyone in the near future, even if they post jobs on their website. Also, most big pharma companies promote from within, until you get to around the VP level.

    I worked in pharma, and I’ve never met anyone who was happy working for Merck. Sure, the pay is great, and if you work away from HQ, you have some autonomy with your schedule (although Big Brother technology is chipping away at that). I wouldn’t put any big pharma companies on that list right now. Not only are they cutting employees, they are going to contract positions in sales and foreign outsourcing in research and manufacturing. And the corporate culture at most is beyond oppressively Machiavellian. You know it’s bad when you’re happy to get a severance package in this economy.

  2. Laura in London
    Laura in London says:

    This definitely needs to read “Top 50 Best Large Corporations” to work for. Some of us get these benefits and more from smaller, lesser-known organisations.

  3. Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed
    Young, Fabulous & Self-Employed says:

    Small businesses are starting to increase their virtual staff which means the job/contract is not always awarded to the highest bidder. I have had a ton of success utilzing Virtual Assistants (VA’s) to handle tactical tasks. I recommend E-Lance to post projects such as Accounting, Presentations, Social Media Marketing, Public Relations, etc. Great resource.

  4. Ella
    Ella says:

    Unless I’m missing something, there’s not a synopsis of why each company made the list– just a link to the company’s website. How very useless.

  5. Greg
    Greg says:

    If, as you say, top company lists are all flawed, ditch the top company list. Maybe instead have a periodic profile of a few companies that are cool on their own qualitative merits, and based on the opinions of their employees, rather than trying to stack rank big companies based on poor metrics. While the discussion in the comments is interesting, this list is flawed enough to be a net waste of people’s time.

  6. Medisoft
    Medisoft says:

    I own a small (50 person) company, and although I know we’d never make the list, I’d like to think we are one of the better places to work! :)

    We offer benefits, VERY flexible schedules, have a tight knit group of people, and most everyone seems to love working with us.

  7. Collin Li
    Collin Li says:

    Like this post simply because of the social entrepreneurship part, and your views on it.

    But the other parts of this post are great too.

    Excellent work, keep it up!

  8. Mary
    Mary says:

    An observation or two based on my own current employment situation (attempting not to beat a dead horse here…) I work for a large organization that made a point of hammering in how “flexible” they are. They offer varying hours from early morning to late evening within my department… The catch was that upon being hired you have to select an initial shift. I chose evenings so that I could spend some more time with my youngest before he would be starting school (my dh and I both have to work…) They failed to mention that once you chose your shift you would be shafted with it unless another person would “trade” with you, or further hiring was done. How’s the for flexible? Now I don’t flip burgers or pour coffee mind you… This is an office. I do a tremendous amount of research and have a great deal of contact with clients very regularly. It borders on “call center” but entails a great deal more responsibility (with only slightly better pay…) Point of my response is to always question their flexibility… If a potential employer wants to use it as a selling point they best be willing to back it up with specific examples and how it remains consistent for employees. Wish I would have known that then. I’m still on the evening hours after almost two years. Barely see my dh these days and my son is now in school. By the way, I work in health insurance. It’s like being on the Titanic waiting for the iceberg to hit :-) It’s been good incentive to look for something better.

  9. NiNi
    NiNi says:

    I cannot help to notice that nr 7 in the list is wrong – Johnson & Johnson is not about consumer goods only. In fact, consumer goods is the smallest division of the company, medical devices and pharma being bigger!
    But it is a common misconception that J&J is about baby oil and shampoo.

  10. dacris
    dacris says:

    You say that “Salary negotiations are over.” You are correct, but I think your reasoning is wrong.

    “Gen Y doesn't consider salary to be a huge factor in choosing a place to work because Gen Y knows that salary data is public.”

    This is not the primary reason why salary negotiation is off the table. The real reason is because every company pays low wages (there are no high-paying companies and low-paying companies), and everybody is afraid of losing their job.

    Oh, and that’s also why companies are finding it easier to extort free hours out of workers and denigrate their workers, telling them they are not qualified for higher-paying positions.

    This is why I’m now working as a contractor and will continue to do so as long as I can. Never again will I hold a permanent (salaried) position if I can help it, and I strongly advise others to do the same, or to simply go on strike.

  11. annonce
    annonce says:

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