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Why Facebook won a best workplace award, again

The company's been named the best place to work by jobs site Glassdoor three times. The reasons apparently go deeper than the free food.

What goes into being the best place to work in the US?

For starters, it comes down to a lot more than just offering free meals and transportation.

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Facebook's VP of HR Janelle Gale (center) and head of recruiting Liz Wamai (right) speak at a panel moderated by Yahoo Finance's JP Mangalindan at Glassdoor's Best Places to Work Tour on Tuesday.

Screenshot by Abrar Al-Heeti

That's according to Facebook's Janelle Gale, vice president of human resources, and Liz Wamai, head of recruiting. They spoke Tuesday at Glassdoor's 2018 Best Places to Work Tour in San Francisco. The social networking company has topped Glassdoor's list of best places to work three times.

"While the perks are awesome, they're not the most important thing, and they certainly are not the most important thing from an attraction or retention standpoint," Gale said. "The difference between the people who stay and go is that they're doing meaningful work in areas that matter to Facebook, and areas that matter to them."

Culture undoubtedly plays a huge role in how employees feel about a company and whether they'll stick around. Gale said employees are told from day one that they should own and contribute to company culture. There's even a giant visual in the new hire orientation room that reads "This is now your company," she says.

Not surprisingly, good management also plays a critical role in employee satisfaction. Facebook looked at employee surveys to identify both good and "OK" managers, and found that what differentiated them was good managers didn't have a "command and control" approach. 

"They're really kind of side-by-side with their people or even leading from behind, not from the front," Gale said. "It's almost like you're supporters, not managers."

Then there's the persistent issue of workplace diversity. As the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements highlight sexual misconduct in industries such as media, entertainment and tech, Facebook is continuing its efforts to boost the number of women and people of color it employs. The company has ramped up its diversity efforts in recent years by recruiting from more schools and launching the Facebook University internship program for college students in underrepresented communities. Facebook also developed a course on managing unconscious bias.

Wamai says HR professionals who want to recruit more diverse candidates need to ask themselves if their branding strategies are targeting underrepresented communities.

"Are the people you're sending out for career fairs [and] for events, do they represent the workforce that you want to attract?" she added.

Former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord later spoke with Glassdoor CEO and co-founder Robert Hohman about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, saying that employees have to stand up for each other and call out sexist and discriminatory behaviors when they happen.

"This is not an HR problem. This is a problem for all of us who work," McCord said. "You shouldn't have to just go to HR. You should go to anybody."

Executives from other companies including REI, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and Zoom Video Communications also shared best practices for recruiting and retaining top talent. Marta Paul, head of human resources at Zoom, said 65 percent of people hired are from the company's referral program.

As artificial intelligence and automation increasingly affect the way companies hire and retain talent, speakers warned companies not to get too caught up in the tech. Ginny Too, senior vice president of HR at Kimpton, said the biggest mistake recruiters can make is engaging so much in automation "that we forget the human touch."

To quell any fears about a robot takeover, Wamai said tech is meant to augment the interview process, not replace the people involved.

If you're hoping to land a job at a top company on Glassdoor's list, Gale's advice is simple: Be yourself.

"There's no 'personal' you and 'professional' you. There's just you," she said. "Your ability to deliver results is based on you showing up as who you are."

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Correction, 6:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Facebook won the top award three years in a row. It has won it three times.