Best Places to Work in IT 2018

These 100 U.S. employers attract top tech talent with stellar benefits, challenging projects and plenty of opportunities for growth.

Mary K. Pratt and Computerworld Staff and Contributors Jun 19th 2018
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What makes an organization a good place for technology professionals to work?

For the 25th year in a row, Computerworld has surveyed large, midsize and small organizations across the U.S. to find out which ones are the Best Places to Work in IT. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about what the companies and other organizations that have made our 25 lists have in common. We’ve seen what goes into becoming a Best Place to Work.

Those are the things that the IT employees who responded to our survey have been most enthusiastic about, and it’s what all our list-toppers do most effectively.

Read this special report to see which companies are the Best Places to Work in IT and what it is that makes them such desirable places to work.

The value of soft benefits

With unemployment low, demand for technology workers today is high, giving tech pros plenty of career opportunities.

Yet Judd Williams, CIO for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, hasn’t had turnover among his 35-member IT team during the past two years.

It’s not big paychecks that retain his workers, Williams says. Although the NCAA offers competitive compensation, Williams instead attributes his retention success to the myriad benefits offered by the Indianapolis-based nonprofit — from free tickets for championship events to Star Wars movie outings.

ncaahqNCAA

NCAA headquarters. The association’s CIO attributes the low turnover in his IT organization to the myriad benefits offered by the nonprofit.

“We do have to differentiate to attract and retain talent, so we focus on creating a better work environment,” Williams says.

His IT workers enjoy flexible hours in the summer, an option to work from home once a week, a week off at Christmas, and opportunities to learn new skills and advance in their careers. They also get some unusual perks, such as afternoon trips to a nearby IMAX theater whenever there’s a new release in the Star Wars franchise, annual retreats for strategizing and socializing, and formal recognition programs that include the Penguin Award for risk-taking (named for the bird that dives into waters where predators could lurk).

Williams acknowledges that these benefits don’t cost a lot to implement or take much time to administer. But they have big returns by helping retain talent and keeping workers happy and engaged, factors that contributed to the NCAA’s placement as the No. 7 small organization on Computerworld’s 2018 Best Places to Work in IT list.

The NCAA is on to something. CIOs and executives at many companies that rank among the 2018 Best Places to Work in IT, as well as research and workplace experts, say competitive compensation is now a given, so workers seek out soft benefits — that is, those perks and programs that can foster energetic, supportive cultures. Moreover, CIOs such as Williams say offering these benefits helps them cultivate a strong workforce that in turn delivers better results.

Monika Dowal, senior director of strategic partnerships at Mondo, an IT and tech staffing firm, says she constantly sees the importance of these kinds of benefits.

“Soft benefits and benefits in general trump salaries when [candidates are] considering positions,” Dowal says.

She says job candidates are increasingly asking about and weighing such corporate offerings when deciding where to apply and which job offers to accept. In fact, one recent candidate decided to accept a position as an IT project manager with a company because that employer offered paid time off for workers to volunteer.

Dowal says tech workers today seem to value several specific benefits: professional development opportunities such as on-the-job training and financial support for advanced learning; assistance with paying off student loans; company-supported philanthropic programs such as mentoring and volunteering; and work-life balance policies such as flexible schedules, unlimited paid time off and telecommuting options.

Some other low-cost perks popular among tech workers include standing desks in the office, conferences and speaking opportunities, free food, on-site fitness classes and meditation lessons.

Consider this: In 2016 a survey from the job-review website Glassdoor found that 57% of job candidates listed benefits and perks among their top considerations for accepting a new role. A 2015 Glassdoor survey showed that nearly 80% of workers preferred new or additional benefits to a pay increase.

“These benefits are becoming a massive consideration,” Dowal adds.

Dave Piwowar, vice president of HR for Secure-24, an IT services provider, says he, too, has seen the power of benefits to draw and keep technical professionals.

Piwowar says the Southfield, Mich.-based company, which ranks as the No. 6 small organization on the 2018 Best Places to Work in IT list, seeks input and feedback from staff about what they value. As a result, besides providing traditional benefits such as health insurance, Secure-24 offers more modern options such as an unlimited vacation time policy, flexible schedules and access to a weekly meditation program.

It also adopted a casual dress code and company-funded happy hours. Those are held after work once or twice a month and are hosted on a rotating basis by different teams, which pick the menu of food and craft beers.

Such benefits are offered to all of its 640 workers, since Secure-24 believes these programs benefit all types of professionals, Piwowar says. But the company also developed training and professional development programs specifically for its 550 technical workers, seeing that technologists particularly value company-sponsored learning opportunities.

“Everybody wants to grow their careers and move forward, but our technical people especially are looking for the latest and greatest,” he says, noting that the company’s Academy Model training program, which gives entry-level workers a path to advance in the company, is highly valued by new hires.

Ultimate Software, the No. 1 midsize organization on the Best Places to Work in IT list for the second year in a row, has similar benefits.

ultimate treetop trekkingUltimate Software

Anny Ly (right) celebrates her birthday by “treetop trekking” with Ultimate Software colleague Parsha Antara.

Based in Weston, Fla., the HR software provider offers its 4,300 employees (over 1,500 of whom are IT workers) the benefits typically found in corporate settings today — health insurance, retirement savings, bonuses, etc. — says John Machado, vice president of development.

Ultimate Software also offers its tech team specific benefits geared toward learning and career development, because tech workers tend to value those things more. Machado says the company has developed unique ways to deliver this benefit. It has what it calls “tribes,” groups of workers interested in a particular area, such as data, who meet and learn together, supported by the company.

But Machado says Ultimate Software, like other leading employers, has found that employees want benefits that support a healthy work-life balance as well as camaraderie among colleagues. To that end, the company supports and provides funding for such activities as summer picnics and barbecues.

Machado says such benefits don’t require much in company resources, but they’re critical for supporting the company’s broader workplace culture.

“Anything that promotes a culture where our employees feel more engaged because they know we care about more than just them creating code pays huge dividends because of increased retention,” he adds.

Although studies reinforce the importance of companies offering these kinds of benefits, leading employers say there’s no single perk that’s going to draw in workers or keep existing ones happy. Indeed, employers say they implement different types of benefits so they can meet the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce, where each worker has a list of what he or she values most — a list that changes over time.

“It’s about the personalization of benefits to meet you where you are in your life — that’s the trend,” says Michele Alcazar, vice president of operations and strategy for technology at Prudential Financial, an insurance company based in Newark, N.J., and the No. 8 large organization on the 2018 Best Places to Work in IT list.

Alcazar says Prudential, with 49,000 employees worldwide (and over 20,000 in the U.S.), including 3,000 IT staffers worldwide (more than 2,300 in the U.S.), has developed a range of benefits, from loan repayment programs for its college recruits to elder-care programs for older workers caring for aging parents. Those are in addition to competitive compensation, traditional benefits and more modern perks such as flextime and 10 weeks of paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers. Prudential also offers life coaching, coaching on health and personal finance, and mentoring, teaching and volunteer opportunities.

prudential medalsPrudential Financial

Prudential Financial employees Johnny Loperena, Abhinai “Abe” Pothireddy and Siobhan Wolohan rode together in the 2017 Bike New York Five Boro Bike Tour as a form of team building.

Alcazar says that clearly some of these benefits cost more than others, but their costs are outweighed by the returns. “There are huge intangible benefits from running these programs, besides people feeling good about working at a company that supports them,” she says. “There’s team building and bonding that happens, too.”

But companies have to do more than just offer a few benefits if they want to create and maintain great work environments, Alcazar and others say. They have to use the benefits to support the culture they want to cultivate, and likewise, the culture should support workers who seek to take advantage of the benefits; it does no good for anyone to offer benefits such as flexible schedules or tuition reimbursement if managers discourage workers from using them.

Consider, for example, what Detroit-based Quicken Loans offers. Teresa Wynn, senior vice president in the company’s Office of the CIO, says the online mortgage lender, the No. 1 large company on the Best Places to Work in IT list for the fifth year running, offers a plethora of benefits to its 17,000 employees, many of which fall into that bucket of low-cost soft benefits. The company has mentoring and volunteer opportunities. It allows workers to take Monday afternoons to work on innovative pet projects. It supports learning and speaking opportunities so that employees can grow their skills and careers.

ql itfamilygathering 2017Quicken Loans

Quicken Loans Technology team members enjoy the company’s annual IT Family Gathering, an event designed to recognize all-star team members, share wins and celebrate the year’s successes.

Wynn says each one of those benefits is important to someone, but it’s not any single one that defines or differentiates the company or the environment for its nearly 1,800 IT employees. Rather, it’s how they all work together to create a workplace where employees want to be.—Mary K. Pratt

Profiles of five Best Places

Want to know what it’s like to work at a Best Places organization? Read these in-depth profiles of five outstanding IT employers:

Click to the next page to see the complete list of 2018 Best Places, divided by company size.

The 100 Best Places to Work in IT

Large organization rankings (5,000 or more U.S. employees)

1 Quicken Loans Detroit
2 Owens Corning Toledo, Ohio
3 VMware Palo Alto, Calif.
4 Workday Pleasanton, Calif.
5 Genentech South San Francisco, Calif.
6 Applied Materials Santa Clara, Calif.
7 DHL Express Plantation, Fla.
8 Prudential Financial Newark, N.J.
9 Vanguard Malvern, Pa.
10 Worthington Industries  Columbus, Ohio 
11 Norton Healthcare  Louisville, Ky. 
12 Altria Client Services   Richmond, Va.
13 Discover Financial Services   Riverwoods, Ill.
14 Asurion Nashville, Tenn. 
15 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, Ind.
16 Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Laurel, Md.
17 Kaiser Permanente Oakland, Calif.
18 Booz Allen Hamilton McLean, Va.
19 Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena, Calif.
20 Raytheon Waltham, Mass.
21 International Paper Memphis, Tenn.
22 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Atlanta
23 Navy Federal Credit Union Vienna, Va.
24 Motorola Solutions Chicago
25 Erickson Living Catonsville, Md.
26 CDW Lincolnshire, Ill.
27 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Columbus, Ohio
28 FedEx Memphis, Tenn.
29 Principal Financial Group Des Moines, Iowa
30 Johns Hopkins Medicine Baltimore
31 H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute Tampa, Fla.
32 Dignity Health Phoenix
33 Portland State University Portland, Ore.
34 RSM US Chicago
35 Ascension St. Louis
36 Monsanto Creve Coeur, Mo.
37 Humana Louisville, Ky.
38 Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Philadelphia
39 Memorial Healthcare System Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
40 SAS Cary, N.C.
41 MSC Industrial Supply Melville, N.Y.
42 Sharp HealthCare San Diego
43 CA Technologies New York
44 Jack Henry and Associates Monett, Mo.
45 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Boca Raton, Fla.
46 DriveTime Tempe, Ariz.
47 Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) Washington, D.C.
48 Holman Enterprises Mount Laurel, N.J.
49 Zimmer Biomet Warsaw, Ind.
50 Carolinas HealthCare System Charlotte, N.C.
51 Mitre McLean, Va.
52 Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles
53 Adventist Health System Altamonte Springs, Fla.
54 Southern Co. Atlanta
55 American Family Life Assurance Co. (AFLAC) Columbus, Ga.
56 PricewaterhouseCoopers New York
57 Palmetto Health Columbia, S.C.
58 Kroger Technology Cincinnati, Ohio
59 University of Oklahoma Norman, Okla.

Midsize organization rankings (1,001 – 4,999 U.S. employees)

1 Ultimate Software Weston, Fla.
2 Enova International Chicago
3 Plante Moran Southfield, Mich.
4 Credit Acceptance Southfield, Mich.
5 Halifax Health Daytona Beach, Fla.
6 AARP Washington, D.C.
7 Illumina San Diego
8 Zebra Technologies Lincolnshire, Ill.
9 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Durham, N.C.
10 Datto Norwalk, Conn.
11 CME Group Chicago
12 CHG Healthcare Midvale, Utah
13 Informatica Redwood City, Calif.
14 Genesis HealthCare System

Zanesville, Ohio

15 Baird Milwaukee
16 Janney Montgomery Scott Philadelphia
17 Avanade Seattle
18 American Fidelity Assurance Oklahoma City
19 Matson Honolulu
20 Workiva Ames, Iowa
21 Caesars Entertainment Las Vegas

Small organization rankings (1,000 or fewer U.S. employees)

1 Cloud for Good Asheville, N.C.
2 Axxess Dallas
3 Sev1Tech Woodbridge, Va.
4 Dataprise Rockville, Md.
5 Commonwealth Financial Network Waltham, Mass.
6 Secure-24 Southfield, Mich.
7 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Indianapolis
8 NRECA (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association) Arlington, Va.
9 Infoverity Dublin, Ohio
10 Connectria Hosting St. Louis
11 Liquidnet Holdings New York
12 National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) Lake St. Louis, Mo.
13 Pariveda Solutions Dallas
14 oXya Jersey City, N.J.
15 Planned Systems International Arlington, Va.
16 MetroStar Systems Reston, Va.
17 Avaap Edison, N.J.
18 CFA Institute Charlottesville, Va.
19 Paramount Software Solutions Alpharetta, Ga.
20 Health Catalyst Salt Lake City

Methodology: How we chose the Best Places to Work

For the 25th year in a row, Computerworld conducted a survey to identify the 100 best places to work for IT professionals. In November 2017, Computerworld started accepting nominations from U.S.-based organizations and from non-U.S.- based employers that met the following criteria: They were required to have a minimum of 300 total employees at a U.S. headquarters and a minimum of 30 IT employees in the U.S., with at least 50% of their IT employees based in the U.S.

Participants were asked to provide contact information for the person at their organization who is familiar with or has access to employment statistics and financial data, as well as benefits policies and programs for the IT department and the organization as a whole.

In January 2018, the contacts at the nominated organizations received a 52-question company survey asking about average salary and bonus increases, percentage of IT staffers promoted, IT staff turnover rates, training and development, and the percentage of women and minorities in IT staff and management positions. In addition, information was collected on the employer’s retention programs, methods of rewarding outstanding performances, and benefits ranging from elder care and child care to flextime and reimbursement for college tuition and the costs of earning technology certifications.

Upon completion of the company survey, participants were instructed to select a random sample of employees from their U.S.-based full- and part-time IT staffs for participation in an employee survey. All participating companies were emailed instructions regarding sample selection as well as a unique survey link to share with employees. Topics covered in the employee survey included satisfaction with compensation and benefits, training and development programs, and work/life balance. In addition, employees were asked to rate employee morale in the IT department, the importance of various benefits, and their level of agreement with a variety of statements on topics ranging from career growth to management’s fair and equal treatment of employees.

A total of 20,566 IT employees responded to the employee survey from the final 100 organizations selected as best places to work for IT professionals.

The nomination survey, company survey and employee survey were all conducted via the internet. The responses to the company and employee surveys were collected and tabulated by a third-party research vendor. The company portion of the research was closed in February 2018, and the employee survey portion was closed in March 2018.

Top 10 Lists

Our top 10 lists show the best of the best — the organizations that excel in these four areas of human resources: career development, retention, benefits and training. To determine those lists, we considered the following factors:

Benefits: The range of benefits offered, including sabbaticals, elder care and child care, and health and vision plans; employee satisfaction with the range of benefits.

Career development: Mentoring programs; tuition reimbursement for college classes and technical certifications; promotions within IT; employee satisfaction with tuition reimbursement, opportunities for career growth and management’s involvement in career development.

Diversity: Percentage of women and minorities in staff and managerial positions; employee perceptions that management treats everyone fairly regardless of race or gender.

Retention: Frequency of employee satisfaction surveys; turnover rate; promotions; morale; employee satisfaction with work/life balance, sabbaticals, job-sharing and telecommuting programs.

Training: Number of training days; training budget; employee satisfaction with training and access to training; satisfaction with reimbursement for certification training; satisfaction with continuing education programs.

In scoring the responses from the company and employee surveys, company results were weighted based on the importance ratings provided by respondents to the employee survey. Approximately half of the total scoring was based on employee responses, with the remaining half based on the survey of the company’s benefits and other programs.

The survey process was managed by Jen Garofalo, research director in IDG’s Strategic Marketing Services group, working with independent firm Research Results. A complete description of our methodology is available on our website.

More about the Best Places to Work in IT: