The 2014 Best Firms to Work For

One of the best aspects of our Best Firms to Work For survey is the comprehensive snapshot it provides of the profession. This year, that’s a pretty interesting snapshot as overall scores dipped a bit from record highs in 2013.

Overall, scores were more in line with 2012. Four of the categories—Culture, Compensation & Benefits, Client Engagement and Work/Life Balance remained largely unchanged. However, scores dipped more in Firm Leadership and Career Development. Check out the chart at the bottom of page 8 for the full story and to make year-over-year comparisons from 2011 to 2014.

From an individual firm perspective, a new No. 1 firm this year shakes up the rankings as BCG wears the crown as the Best Firm to Work For. EY, McGladrey, L.E.K. Consulting and Protiviti are 2014′s newcomers. Meanwhile, Stroud Consulting remains the Best Small Firm to Work For. That’s five years running and six out of the last seven years for Stroud.

The Best Firms to Work For The Best Small Firms to Work For
1. The Boston Consulting Group 1. Stroud International
2. Point B 2. Solstice Mobile
3. Slalom Consulting 3. Systems Evolutions, Inc.
4. Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group 4. Cask
5. North Highland 5. Vynamic
6. CapTech 6. Infinitive
7. West Monroe Partners 7. Insight Sourcing Group
8. Deloitte Consulting 8. PeopleFirm
9. EY 9. IBB Consulting Group
10. Kurt Salmon 10. Meridian Compensation Partners
11. Huron Consulting Group 11. Wilson Perumal & Company
12. McGladrey 12. Impact Advisors
13. PwC 13. Acquis Consulting
14. L.E.K. Consulting 14. Censeo Consulting Group
15. Protiviti 15. Aspen Advisors

2014 Survey Averages Client Engagement
This category refl ects the quality of work consultants perceive their firm is doing. It is not a measure of the actual work being done, but the more valuable a firm’s consultants perceive their work to be, the more engaged they tend to be in their clients’—and firm’s—success.

Firm Culture
Firm culture reflects the shared values, standards, ethics, and goals of a firm. Gone are the days when firms would hire a generation of future partners from a leading campus and hone their skills over the course of a career. Today’s firms are comprised of talent that has spent years at other firms, and in other industries. As a result, building and sustaining a strong culture becomes all the more difficult.

Firm Leadership
Uncertainty tests leadership in big ways. The economic uncertainty of the new normal tests their decision-making and internal communication skills. In 2014, leadership had to chart a new course and generate confidence in the firm’s direction. The more confi dence the rank and file consultants have in their leaders, the more apt they are to be happy at their firm. But the opposite is also true.

Career Development
After some rough years, the campus pipeline is just starting to be refilled, which will force some promotions up through the higher staffing levels. However, setting and communicating those goals is a challenge. Handling it well can make consultants want to stay with your firm longer; doing it poorly can encourage defections.

Work / Life Balance
This category reflects how well consultants perceive their firm as enabling them to balance their life outside of their job. Given the heavy work and travel regimen required, this is a difficult task. Setting expectations and communicating what’s expectated can go a long way to making consultants feel appreciated.

Compensation & Benefits
This category reflects consultants’ satisfaction with their compensation and non-cash benefits and does not necessarily reflect those firms that pay the most. The happier consultants are with their job, the more they’re willing to settle for less money. Such is the case with smaller firms who continue to report higher satisfaction despite smaller paychecks. And when consultants are unhappy, this category tends to be the easy scapegoat.

Who Took The Survey? Who Took the Survey?

The Best Firms to Work For rankings are based on an online survey conducted in the spring and summer of 2014. More than 10,000 consultants participated, representing more than 350 firms. The consultants operate in every service line, across at least 35 different project/practice areas, and serve clients across all major industries. About three-quarters of the respondents came from the United States. Consultants at every staff level participated. Here is a breakdown of participants, by staff level.