The tech giant which employs over 90,000 people in 26 countries triumphed over McDonald's, Intel, Coca Cola and even notoriously cushy workplace Google. (Above, check out the employee ball pit at Google's headquarters.)
In order to make the top 25 on the list, companies had to have at least 5,000 employees, at least 40 percent of whom are based outside the employer's home country. The company must also have made it on to at least five of the institute's national best workplace lists between September, 2010, and August, 2011.
According to a USA Today interview with Great Place to Work Global CEO Jose Tolovi Jr., there are three criteria that employees must highlight when describing their workplace: trust in their managers, pride in the company and good feelings towards their colleagues. Tolovi said to USA Today, "At the best companies, even the lowest-level employees know they are part of the team."
Interestingly, tech companies seem to have these qualities in spades. Tech sector firms took the top four spots on the best workplaces list and were second only to manufacturing and production companies in overall categorical representation.
When determining the winners, the Great Places To Work Institute looked at everything from whether businesses incentivized charitable giving -- Microsoft will match each employees' charitable giving up to $12,000 per year -- to how respectful employers were when they had to lay people off. According to USA Today, one of the reasons NetApp, for example, came in third was because when they were respectful and straightforward when they laid of 5 percent of their workforce in 2009.
And of course pay is a factor in employee happiness, although not as big as one might think. Mercer, a consulting firm, recently published a report on what motivates employees to stay with their company and do a good job, and found that pay only ranks sixth in terms of motivation. Around the world, employees' two most important workplace factors were being treated with respect and having a good work life balance. The quality of their co-workers, and quality of the organization, as well as the type of work filled out the rest of the top five.
Back in Janauary, Fortune created a similar ranking of businesses. Even though it looked only at American companies, the two lists shared three out of the five top firms -- SAS, NetApp and Google. Microsoft, however, wasn't even close to number one on Fortune's list; the Redmond-based company placed 72nd in that particular study.