As a nation, it seems we have become slightly obsessed with lists. Open any newspaper, magazine or journal and you’ll see lists for everything.

A story in the sports pages about a failing football team will have a 'five worst moments of the season' list; a trashy celebrity magazine will have a 'top ten worst holiday pictures'; and a business website tracking a company's success will publish a list a 'decade of great leadership decisions'.

And, while these lists are successful in delivering neat summaries, and put the facts in an easy-to-digest format, they rarely give us the detail we crave. One list that caught our eye over the weekend was the Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For 2013 list.

But, what is it that makes a company 'great' to work for? What are the companies that make it up to the main stage doing that sets them apart from others? One theme in particular that runs through the lists, from Best Small Companies, to Best Big Companies, is the approach to workplace environment...

Inclusive, open environments

The modern workplace recognises that each and every person who works within the business, no matter how big or small the organisation is, has a role to play in its success. To this end, there was a flurry of companies focusing their efforts on creating an inclusive workspace - one that welcomes opinion and ideas from all quarters. The Save Britain Money Group, for instance, was noted in the Sunday Times write up for its "tell the CEO" scheme as well as its attitude to socialising among employees. The company has a pool room and even encourages communal singing on the sales floor! Expedia holds company-wide drinks for staff once a fortnight. Law firm Lewis Silkin is so concerned that working parents may miss out on social activities that it makes space for a "tea at 3" event - so that everyone can get together during a break.

Health and well-being conscious workplaces

As predicted, healthy workplaces were noted in this year's rankings. So, what are the 'great' companies doing to encourage a healthy working environment? Admiral Group was among the firms leading the charge here with initiatives ranging from free fruit to free gym membership. Expedia again scored well here, as it offers all staff £850 to offset against sporting activities, while Accenture and Marriot Hotels were noted for their 'cycle to work' schemes - where employees can get tax-efficient access to bikes to carry out their daily commute to work.

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