Video: Tour the No. 1 Best Places for 2014

What makes a company tops in the eyes of its employees? We take a look at Quicken Loans, LinkedIn and Noah Consulting to find their secrets to success.

This year for the first time, Computerworld's list of 100 Best Places to Work in IT is organized by company size, based on the number of U.S. employees.

Quicken Loans, LinkedIn and Noah Consulting topped our large, midsize and small rankings, respectively, by keeping employees well compensated, challenged in their jobs and supported with extras like free lunch and foosball.

Here, editors Keith Shaw and Tracy Mayor chat about the No. 1 companies' winning ways and how they excel in responding to challenges that are unique to their size.

Editors Tracy Mayor and Keith Shaw discuss which organizations topped this year's 2014 Best Places to Work in IT lists.

Quicken Loans and many of the other firms that top the list of large organizations -- those that have 5,000 or more U.S. employees -- know they need to focus on career development for their employees in order to retain them in a highly competitive market for IT talent. That's why top large firms like USAA, General Mills, DHL Express and Genentech all earned high marks for their robust training and high rates of employee retention.

Midsize companies, which have between 1,000 and 4,999 U.S. employees, typically feel pressure to keep growing or wither on the vine, which translates into both pressure and opportunity for IT. It's no mistake that top midsize firms like MasterCard, Informatica and CareerBuilder put a premium on innovation -- they want to inspire their employees to come up with the next great idea. Many organizations follow the lead of companies like LinkedIn, which sponsors "InDays," during which employees have free time to explore new technologies on their own, hack with colleagues in other departments or push innovation out into the community.

The list of small Best Places -- those with fewer than 1,000 U.S. employees -- is particularly interesting. Almost half the small organizations are newcomers to the Best Places list, and many are "on the other side of the cloud" -- including IT services provider Sev1Tech, cloud services provider Connectria, identity service software developer Radiant Logic, The Ironside Group business intelligence consultancy, and Datto, a vendor of business continuity software.

The No. 1 small organization, Noah Consulting, is a virtual company with employees distributed across the country and a very small footprint in its Houston headquarters. The firm, which provides information management services to the energy industry, bridges the geographical distance via weekly "all-hands" conference calls, monthly happy hours for staffers and their spouses, and biannual social weekends for employees and their families.

Next: Video: What employees want, and what employers offer.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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