The 50 Best Places to Work for 2012

Management consulting firms Bain and McKinsey top Glassdoor’s annual list.

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Management consulting firms Bain & Company and McKinsey & Company topped Glassdoor's annual list of the 50 Best Places to Work, a ranking created entirely from employee reviews.

"If you go and read the reviews, what employees tell you is the reason they like these management consulting firms, Bain and McKinsey, is that they get to work with some of the best people they'll ever work with in their entire life, incredibly smart people, they get to work on very diverse projects, they get to travel the world, and they get accelerated learning on a scale that they're unlikely to get again in their career," says Robert Hohman, CEO and cofounder of Glassdoor, a website where employees rate their companies.

[See The 50 Best Careers for 2011.]

Following Bain and McKinsey, which ranked first and second, respectively, were last year's winner Facebook, nonprofit information technology firm MITRE, and Google.

Of the companies that made both the 2011 and 2012 lists, McKinsey ranked as the "most improved." "McKinsey, in particular, has done a good job making it a great place to work for a lifetime," Hohman says.

Seventeen companies debuted on the 2012 list, including J. Crew, Starbucks, and Disney Parks & Resorts. Among the biggest decliners was Southwest Airlines, which dropped 15 spots and landed at No. 17.

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A surprise on Glassdoor's list was daily deals website Groupon, which ranked No. 40. Hohman says Groupon can be a polarizing work environment, but some employees enjoy working for the Chicago-based company—enough for it to make Glassdoor's list. "Here's the interesting thing about Groupon, if you read the reviews. Groupon is a really intense place. They're growing tremendously fast. Change is just a matter of course, every day. This a perfect example of where if you're a good fit for that environment, you do extremely well. ... If you don't like that much change, you will really not like working at Groupon."

To compile the list, Glassdoor used information collected from an anonymous 20-question survey that addresses eight workplace factors, including work-life balance, career opportunities, communication, compensation and benefits, fairness and respect, employee morale, recognition and feedback, and senior leadership. To make the list, companies had to have a minimum CEO rating, a minimum rating in all eight categories, and at least 25 current employee-submitted reviews over the past 12 months.

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"It's really like the employee's choice awards for companies," Hohman says. "Employees themselves told us what's great about their companies, how they feel about their leadership and CEOs, and then we collected that information over the last 12 months. And these are the 50 best out of 65,000 companies that we looked at."

Here's the complete list of Glassdoor's 50 Best Places to Work for 2012:

1. Bain & Company

2. McKinsey & Company

3. Facebook

4. MITRE

5. Google

6. CareerBuilder

7. Slalom Consulting

8. REI

9. Trader Joe's

10. Apple

11. General Mills

12. Rackspace

13. Salesforce.com

14. United Space Alliance

15. Dow Chemical

16. Chevron

17. Southwest Airlines

18. National Instruments

19. Wayfair

20. Citrix Systems

21. QUALCOMM

22. SAP America

23. Costco Worldwide

24. J. Crew

25. Procter & Gamble

26. Fluor

27. Reachlocal

28. Johnson & Johnson

29. Monsanto Company

30. NetApp

31. Morningstar

32. Intel Corporation

33. Disney Parks & Resorts

34. Starbucks

35. NIKE

36. Cleveland Clinic

37. Coach

38. Ernst & Young

39. Sephora USA

40. Groupon

41. Goldman Sachs

42. Intuit

43. Accenture

44. Nordstrom

45. PricewaterhouseCoopers

46. Eli Lilly

47. MTV Networks

48. Scottrade

49. NVIDIA

50. FedEx

Twitter: @benbaden