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NetApp: A Great Place to Work

Looking for a great place to work? Consider applying at the Mountain View, California headquarters of Google. Among the perks enjoyed by Google employees are onsite haircuts, free laundry facilities, workout and massage rooms, in-house childcare, and car washes. And then there's the free food. The campus has eleven cafeterias serving everything from gourmet meals to M&Ms. Legend has it that Google workers are never more than 150 feet away from free food. No wonder the company topped Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2007 and 2008.

But there's a new number one company on the Fortune list this year: storage and data management company NetApp. Unlike Google, which got to the top largely by providing employees with lots of goodies, NetApp earned the number one spot because of its culture of trust. NetApp's leaders promote an atmosphere of openness and honesty, and they go out of their way to proactively share information with workers.

Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz, whose Great Place to Work Institute has been compiling information on great workplaces since 1980, have been quoted as saying, "The most important factor in selecting companies for this list is what employees themselves have to say about their workplace." For their part, NetApp employees say they appreciate how easy it is to share ideas, get answers to questions, meet with senior leaders, and find opportunities to take responsibility. Funny, no one mentions wanting free M&Ms.

At number four on the 2009 list, Google is still clearly a great place to work. And Google's culture of fun, high energy, and innovation undoubtedly attracts as many people as the free chow does. But NetApp's elevation reveals how important trustworthy leadership is to workers in today's business environment. "Perks are nice, but employees are looking for something more basic," Levering and Moskowitz have noted. "They want to be told the truth, especially if the news is bad."

If you want employees to consider your company a great place to work, focus less on promoting financially oriented rewards and more on demonstrating the values that attracted them in the first place.

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