Israel’s Best Employers: Tech Companies and Monopolies

TheMarker’s 2015 survey of the 100 best companies to work for gives top marks to Israel Electric Corp. and several multinationals.

High-tech workers in Israel.
Tomer Appelbaum

The best employers in Israel stand at the two opposite ends of the economic spectrum, according to TheMarker Magazine’s annual survey of the 100 Best Places to Work. At one end are the high-tech companies, those developers of cutting-edge technology, globally competitive and, as it happens, often foreigned owned; at the other is Israel’s lumbering, reviled monopolies that force on the public ovepriced goods and services — but pay their unionzied employees well.

This year’s survey, conducted in cooperation with business information firm BDI, showed that five out of the top 10 employers voted by Israelis were high tech firms — four of them American. The rest of the list was rounded out by state-owned power monopoly Israel Electric Corporation, which was No. 1 for the third year in a row. Bank Hapoalim and Bank Leumi, which control 60% of the banking market, were in the top 10 list as was government Israel Aerospace Industries.

The odd man out was Teva Pharmaceuticals, one of Israel’s few authentic multinational giants, which rated Israel’s fifth best employer .

Of those, Google, ranked second, showed the most dramatic change, and even though the international giant has only a relatively small research and development center in Israel, its status among employees has been rising steadily from year to year — and in big jumps. Six years ago Google was ranked a lowly 49th place in Israel, but for the past three years it has been one of the top 10. No surprise here except that it took so long for Google Israel to be recognized: The web-search giant is admitedly high as an employer all over the globe has been ranked first in the United States by Fortune magazine, as well by the Glassdoor website, which conducts an Internet survey.

Google tops Intel

The 2015 survey marked the first time Google beat out the perennial high-tech favorite, Intel, which fell to No. 3 in TheMarker’s rankings. Intel was the top employer for five straight years in 2008-2012, before slipping to No. 2 in 2013 and 2014.

Google’s gains are particularly impressive considering Microsoft dropped out of the top 10. In last year’s survey Microsoft was ranked ninth, but it dropped to 13th place for 2015. Other well known high-tech companies, such as IBM and Germany’s SAP, are still up there in the top third of the chart but fell four or five places each.

Within the top 100 are other multinational tech companies with operations in Israel. Apple, which inaugurated new offices for its development center in Herzliya in February in the presence of CEO Tim Cook, broke into the rankings for the first time, making its way to 27. The Israeli website-building company Wix, which drew a lot of publicity this past year after it went public on the Nasdaq at the end of 2013, entered the ranking this time at 75. Facebook, which was ranked for the first time, too, was No. 35. Other technology companies in the top 100 included Linux distributor Red Hat (84), computer manufacturer Dell (86) and Internet gaming firm 888 (93).

Alongside high-tech, the traditional institutions have maintained their positions more than anyone else: Apart from IEC, government ministries, as a group climbed 10 places to the 20th spot; the Bank of Israel kept its 40th position and the Israel Defense Forces climbed 10 spots to 50. Israel Military Industries, a government company in the prcess of being privatized, was at 95 while the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona closed out the top 100 in last place. Even the Israel Police climbed five rungs to 81st place, despite the major management crisis it faces.

The survey shows that the Israeli worker values anything with a touch of the military. Not just the IDF itself improved its ranking, but also the defense makers as a group rose significantly. The IAI, for example, climbed 10 full steps and entered the top 10 at No. 8. In seventh place was Elbit Systems, which rose four notches from the previous year while Elta, an IAI subsidiary, reached the 17th spot. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems improved its lot by only one rung and was ranked in 12th place even though it enjoyed the limelight last summer as the maker of the Iron Dome antimissile system.

Among the representatives of the financial sector, the three largest Israeli banks were in the top 20 — Bank Leumi (4), Bank Hapoalim (9) and Israel Discount Bank (14) as was one insurance company, Direct Insurance (15) and one credit card company, Isracard (18). Pharmaceutical giant Teva was fifth, up only one rung for the year before; while Israel’s largest food manufacturer, Strauss, fell one position to 11.

Salary, salary and salary

We asked thousands of employees in five different sectors — industry, commerce, services, finance and technology — to rank their expectations from their employers based on 11 parameters. The No. 1 parameter was the same in three different sectors, and also topped the overall ranking: Salary. In comparison, in industry and high-tech the respondents ranked workplace relations as the most important, while salary came in second.

Such a result is no surprise when it comes to high-tech employees, whose salary conditions are almost universally generous. In industry, wages are not as high and it is somewhat surprising these workers give more importance to good industrial relations than to salary. But it is encouraging, since it shows that at least in these sectors people are satisfied with their salaries more than in other sectors.

Employment security and stability are also regarded as very important considerations. Nevertheless, as a factor it has become less important than in 2008 and 2009, the years of the financial crisis and recession, in which it ranked first in a number of sectors. In 2014, employment security was ranked only third in importance by workers.

It is clear that employees in the financial and commerce sectors are a bit more worried about keeping their jobs, since in these sectors employment security was ranked second in importance, immediately following salary conditions, while work relations came in third.

Another encouraging sign in this context was the relatively low ranking of an employer’s financial stability. During the days of a financial crisis or recession, that variable tends to jump — so much so that it becomes one of the top three. But in the present survey it ranked only sixth — trailing behind such items as fringe benefits (4) and professional advancement (5).

Ranked a relatively low seventh overall in importance to workers was flexible hours. Most likely this shows that most employees are not particularly interested in that option, but it is also possible that they don’t think it ‘s applicable given their jobs or the rules in their workplaces. This is one area where we see a clear difference between sectors: In high-tech and commerce, employees ranked it sixth, while in services, workers put it near the bottom in ninth place.

Israeli workers have traditionally ranked various social activities for the welfare of employees in last place in terms of importance, with the atmosphere in the workplace and social cohesion ranked only a bit higher.

Do Israeli workers consider a good atmosphere a sort of nonessential bonus? It is more reasonable to assume that there is a gap between the rankings and reality: Management that does not invest in activities to bolster social cohesion and cooperation among workers will be accused of poor relations with employees, yet this parameter comes in only fifth in the list of preferences.

As every year, once again Israeli workers do not link their professional advancement, which is ranked fifth place, with professional training — ranked 10th in all areas, including high tech. Israeli employees do not see such training as a means for advancement, even though in many workplaces, such as in the public sector, it is a basic tool used by the employer. Professional training is ranked so low that it is even less desired than working close to home. The Israeli worker is still willing to drive long distances in order to work, and the traffic jams and wasted time on the road are much less important to them than the salary or the way they are treated at work.

How we checked

The rankings are based on surveys conducted with tens of thousands of employees based on where they worked in calendar year 2014. A representative sample of over 2,000 workers was used initially to examine what parameters are important to the average Israeli in choosing their employers, followed by a broader survey, weighting the answers based on the results of the preliminary survey.

The rankings also include the results of internal surveys at over 70 companies in various businesses.

In addition to the survey of employees, we used two other surveys: One conducted among university and college students; and the other of human resources managers at leading companies. Many companies also provided information on the benefits they provide to employees, and these were taken into account in the final rankings.

The rankings consider peoples’ opinions not only of their own employers but of other companies too. They were asked about their preferences based on information from their friends and colleagues, along with advertising, work contacts and their personal knowledge of the other companies. To prevent distortions and encompass as broad a range of views as possible, the surveys are conducted throughout the entire year, and all over the country.