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A new LinkedIn list indicates that Day 1 at Amazon could be the start of something great for many employees. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

A week after taking the top spot in a ranking that measures brand reputation in the eyes of the public, Amazon is No. 1 on another list that casts the company’s workplace in a much different light than its hard-charging reputation would suggest.

LinkedIn’s 2018 Top Companies list, released this morning, features 50 of what it calls the “most sought-after employers” — companies that have figured out how to attract and retain top talent.

Retention, in particular, has not traditionally been an Amazon hallmark. At one point, the company had the second-highest turnover rate among the Fortune 500, and is known for an “only the strongest survive” approach to retention.

LinkedIn says the study takes into account billions of actions of more than 540 million members and looks at data including job seeker reach and interest, engagement, and retention. The new ranking comes as Amazon’s employee count soars to more than 566,000 people, up 66 percent over the past year, growing by hundreds of thousands of people over the past several years.

The picture painted by the LinkedIn study contrasts starkly with the widely read New York Times story in 2015 on Amazon’s “bruising workplace,” which depicted employees crying at their desks. The company has repeatedly criticized that piece, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying at the time that it “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”

In a post on LinkedIn today, the social network’s editor-at-large George Anders, who covered Amazon for the Wall Street Journal from 1998 to 2000, suggests things have changed at the company.

Amazon Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke on stage at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

“Intensity has always been an important part of Amazon’s culture, but as the company has grown it has worked harder to tone down intermittent excesses” writes Anders, who visited the Amazon campus and interviewed employees and executives including Amazon Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke for the LinkedIn piece.

Wilke told Anders that he doesn’t believe Amazon today has a problem with work-life balance. “If you focus on the things that matter at work, you can get an enormous amount done in a reasonable time,” the Amazon executive says in the piece. “I meet hundreds of thousands of happy Amazonians who love their work and love their life.”

The company is already touting the ranking to further boost its recruiting efforts.

Amazon took over the top spot from Google parent Alphabet, which fell to No. 2. Coincidentally, Amazon also passed Alphabet this week to become the second most valuable company in the world — based on market share — behind Apple.

LinkedIn said that Amazon attracts top talent by “offering a corporate infrastructure that enables employees to see the impact of their work on a broad audience by not delaying launches with internal processes.”

Amazon’s planned efforts around employee health care also get a mention, as they did in the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient. The tech giant is joining JP Morgan Chase & Co. (No. 18 on the LinkedIn list) and Berkshire Hathaway to develop a new healthcare company that aims to cut costs and improve coverage.

Elsewhere on the list, which is in its third year, Twitter dropped the furthest, falling from No. 17 to No. 43. Seattle-based Tableau fell 19 spots, from No. 30 to No. 49. Uber fell seven spots from No. 5 to No. 12.

Newcomers comprised over 30 percent of the list, and included companies such as Nike, Spotify and Samsung, as well as the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.

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