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Workplace Awards

When you know your company culture is awesome, you may think it's time to make it official. Learn everything you need to know about preparing for surveys, creating a strong application, and celebrating being a great place to work. 

Image by Rufus Oyemade

Key Points

  1. Do your own benchmarking at least 6 months in advance.

  2. Follow through on solutions.

  3. Don't apply until you're ready. Don't use the award to fix your culture, fix your culture first and truly win the award. 

  4. Use our free tracker to draft your applications and compare awards. 

  5. Great Place to Work, Fast Company, Glassdoor, Fortune, and Comparably are just some of the examples of what's out there. 

  6. Celebrate your award! 


In the cutthroat business world, every company wants to be known as an awesome place to work. And one surefire way to grab attention is by winning company awards that celebrate workplace excellence.


In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the process of comparing, preparing for, collecting employee surveys, and applying for those top-notch accolades. Plus, we'll throw in some examples of prestigious awards you can aim for. Let's get started. 

How to Compare Awards


Before you dive headfirst into the award application frenzy, take a moment to research and compare different awards. Many of the applications are in the hundreds of dollars, so especially in the first year you'll want to only pick one that works best for you. 

Here's what you should look for:

  1. Criteria and Focus: Each award has its own vibe. Some focus on employee engagement, others on diversity or innovation. Find the awards that align with your company's strengths and values.

  2. Reputation and Credibility: You want to win an award that means something, right? There are a lot of "junk" awards out there that basically just charge for you to be accepted. Look for well-known and respected organizations that have a track record of recognizing awesome workplaces.

  3. Industry Relevance: If you want to show off your sector-specific success, look for awards that cater to your industry. Being recognized among your peers can give you that extra boost.




Do not, and I repeat, do not apply for any award if you feel your company culture fundamentally needs improvement. Do not expect that winning the award will help improve the culture. Only authentically great cultures win awards.


If you're in this position, the "preparation phase" may look like actually implementing the solutions to issues you've discovered in past employee surveys. Your staff knows when you are not walking the talk. 

  1. Internal Assessment: Take a deep dive into your company culture, employee benefits, career development programs, and the core values that set you apart. Collect all previous employee data and survey results

  2. Benchmarking: Compare yourself against the competition and industry benchmarks. This reality check will help you see where you stand and uncover areas for improvement.

  3. Employee Surveys: Most awards come with their own employee survey, and provide sample answers. I recommend not doing a different survey very close to the application date, or you will get enthusiasm for your test but fatigue when it comes to the real thing.

  4. Data Analysis: Dig into your aggregated previous survey data and uncover trends, strengths, and areas where you can level up. Guide your action plan to address each of these data points through real, inclusive, and transparent programs and policies. 

People Walking

Previous year's questions

Use these as examples only.

Inc Magazine Best Places to Work Questions (2020) 


Long Form


  • 1. Tell us how your company puts culture first.

  • 2. What management ideas does your company practice that set you apart from your competition? 

  • 8. In your own words, tell us your story about how your workplace culture has changed over the past few years? (Cite specific examples such as diversity improvements, perks, training. etc.)  

  • 9. Where is workplace culture headed in the future and what is your company doing right now to get there? 

  • Please upload 1-3 high-resolution portraits and/or images that show us why your workplace should be considered as one of the best workplaces. 


Multiple Choice


1. Approximately how many days of training does your company devote per employee on an annual basis?


  • None 

  • 1 to 5 days

  • 6 to 10 days

  • More than 10 days


2. What is your organization’s primary approach to performance feedback?


  • Annual performance review 

  • Periodic one-on-ones between managers and employees

  • 360 feedback 

  • We don’t use a standard system for providing feedback 


3. How often are employees and managers expected to have one-on-one performance conversations?


  • Yearly 

  • Bi-annually

  • Quarterly 

  • Monthly 

  • Weekly

  • We do not have performance conversations with employees


4. What metric does your company use as a primary measure of overall employee sentiment?*

Employee engagement score 


  • Percent of “engaged” employees

  • Employee satisfaction score 

  • Wellness index 

  • We do not track employee sentiment metric

  • Other

Fast Company Best Workplaces for Innovators Questions 


1. Provide one detailed example of an important innovation that originated from a surprising source within your organization. Include details of impact/outcomes as well.


2. Detail your organization’s investments to encourage and support innovation. Examples might include R&D spending, incubators, corporate venture capital programs, etc.


3. Describe the programs/systems/initiatives that your organization has in place that encourage an innovative culture.


4. What steps has your company taken to foster a workplace culture where employees feel empowered to innovate? In your response, describe your organization’s inclusion and diversity efforts, and the role diverse or unconventional perspectives have played in the organization’s culture.

Collecting Employee Surveys


Your employees can make or break your application. 

Gentle reminder, it's unethical to pressure your employees into good reviews or to reward or punish them based on their survey submissions. The key to all company awards is that they're objective. To ensure this, the surveys are anonymous, and typically done through a 3rd party like Accenture or Gallup to keep accurate, unbiased data. 

Don't blow your real application: Do any kind of benchmarking survey at least 6 months in advance so you have time to address the results and create solutions. 

Follow these tips for collecting good survey data:

  1. Anonymity and Confidentiality: Assure your team that their responses are anonymous and confidential. This creates a safe space for honest feedback and helps you get accurate insights.

  2. Clear Communication: Let your employees know why their input is crucial. Explain how their feedback will help make your workplace even more awesome and encourage their participation.

  3. Variety of Survey Methods: Mix it up. Use online surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews to capture diverse perspectives and experiences within your organization.

  4. Regular Survey Cadence: Keep a regular cadence that does not lead to "survey fatigue". I recommend every 6 months. This allows you to track progress, spot trends, and keep a finger on the pulse of your workplace.


Winning company awards is like a high-five from the business world, boosting your employer brand, attracting top talent, and making your employees feel proud to be a part of something great.

Showcase your award on your Careers page and About page on your website. 


You've done the groundwork. Now it's time to go live. 

Set your application up for success:

  1. Thorough Documentation: Show them what you're made of. Provide solid evidence of your achievements, programs, initiatives, and measurable results. Bring the receipts with high res images or video that shows off your team doing their thing. 

  2. Compelling Narrative: Tell the story. Paint a vivid picture of your workplace culture, the impact you've made on employees' lives, and your "why".

  3. Employee Testimonials: Bring your employees' voices to the forefront. Include honest testimonials that highlight their experiences and showcase the power of employee pride.

  4. Clear and Concise Writing: Keep it snappy and engaging. Avoid jargon and buzzwords, and make sure your application is easy to read and understand. Always, always, always, run your application through a real staff editor on your team. Your CEO is not an editor. 

  5. Track your Applications. Make sure you download the free award application tracker on this page to keep track of the status of your awards. 

Top Company Culture Awards

Here are just a few examples of prestigious awards you can set your sights on. Always be sure to research your local and regional newspapers, associations, and publications for local awards. 

  1. Great Place to Work Certification
    What is it: Recognizes companies that create exceptional workplaces and prioritize employee satisfaction, trust, and engagement.
    Prize: Certification badge, listing in Great Place to Work database, and access to benchmarking reports.
    Deadline: Rolling application process.
    Sponsoring Company: Great Place to Work® Institute.
    Category: This certification acknowledges companies that excel in fostering a positive work culture and employee well-being.


  2. Fast Company's Best Workplaces for Innovation
    What is it: Honors companies that embody innovation, creativity, and progressive workplace practices.
    Prize: Public recognition, media coverage, and inclusion in Fast Company's annual list. Previous Deadline: Varies each year; typically around November.
    Sponsoring Company: Fast Company magazine.
    Category: This award celebrates companies that push boundaries, embrace change, and showcase forward-thinking approaches to work.


  3. Glassdoor Employees' Choice Awards
    What is it: Based on employee reviews, this award highlights companies that provide outstanding workplace experiences.
    Prize: Recognition badge, media exposure, and increased employer branding.
    Previous Deadline: Annually in December.
    Sponsoring Company: Glassdoor.
    Category: This award showcases companies with high employee satisfaction ratings, positive work environments, and strong leadership.


  4. Comparably's Best Places to Work
    What is it: Recognizes companies that prioritize employee happiness, diversity, and a positive work culture.
    Prize: Public recognition, media exposure, and inclusion in Comparably's annual list.
    Previous Deadline: Varies each year; typically around March.
    Sponsoring Company: Comparably.
    Category: This award highlights companies that excel in employee satisfaction, compensation and benefits, work-life balance, and professional development.


  5. Forbes Best Employers
    Description: Identifies companies that stand out as exceptional employers based on employee surveys and independent research.
    Prize: Public recognition, media coverage, and inclusion in Forbes' annual list.
    Previous Deadline: Varies each year; typically around October.
    Sponsoring Company: Forbes.
    Category: This award showcases companies that prioritize employee well-being, career opportunities, and company reputation.


Remember to check the respective award organizations' websites for updated information on deadlines and criteria. Good luck in applying for these prestigious workplace awards!

Becoming a top workplace doesn't happen overnight, but winning company awards can be a game-changer. By comparing awards, preparing thoroughly, collecting meaningful employee surveys, and crafting stellar applications, you'll be well on your way to being recognized as a great workplace. 

More on Employee Survey Data

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