What are happy employees saying about their companies?
The top 9 things that make a company great.
Every year Fortune Magazine comes out with a list of the 100 Best Places to Work. What are the amazing things these companies do for their employees? After five years of research I've created a list of the most common benefits, perks, and corporate cultures that make these places amazing.
1. Healthcare: With the rising costs of healthcare no wonder employees list this as the most important benefit they value. A significant number of the companies on the top 100 list offer 90%-100% coverage of healthcare costs including premiums (Arthrex). A few exceptional companies extend it to domestic partners/spouses and children. Some of these workplaces even offer an onsite medical center (Chesapeake Energy) where you and your family members can go in for check-ups and non-urgent medical issues. Dental coverage is also covered.
2. Profit Sharing: Companies in a variety of industries such as law, construction, and manufacturing are 100% employee owned (PCL Construction). This means employees are partners and reap the benefits when profits soar but also share the burden when productivity is slow (CH2M Hill). Employees love the feeling of ownership which promotes unity towards a common goal. The best companies not only offer a 401K retirement plan, but also a pension, quarterly or yearly bonuses and discounted stock options (SWBC). One company offered all employees the opportunity to receive a $100,000 check if they double the company size by 2017 (Hilcorp). Of course compensation is at or above market rate for these companies, but the additional profit sharing puts them over the top.
3. Family: Employers of choice all have a sense of family where employees call their workplace as their 'second home.' These companies have a high level of compassion for one another, develop deep relationships between colleagues regardless of job title, and are extremely supportive when personal crises arise. Many have programs that include donating PTO time to employees in need, fundraising money to help with catastrophes, and exceeding expectations when personal illness or family emergencies occur. They celebrate milestones together such as birthdays, anniversaries, the birth of a child, or significant accomplishments. These social gatherings are key to building the family atmosphere and take place at work or after hours through holiday parties, BBQs, summer picnics, sporting events, team building activities, and team lunches which are all sponsored by the company (World Wide Technology).
4. Trust: Employees love autonomy. They want to be given the tools and resources they need to get the job done without being micro-managed. The best places to work provides a high level of trust for employees, which can even translate to a completely flexible work schedule. A few companies enable employees to work WHENEVER and WHEREVER they want, providing the ultimate work/life balance for employees to manage (CISCO). These companies offer employees complete freedom to get their job done without a set schedule. Some companies even offer unlimited vacation time, trusting that employees will take what they need to rejuvenate and not abuse the policy (SuccessFactors). A few award employees with a sabbatical after 5 or 10 years or service with 5 weeks of paid time off to recharge (Genetech). These employees thrive on the high level of responsibility they are given to perform successfully while being able to set their own work hours.
5. Professional Development: The best companies offer outstanding training opportunities for employees, from the first day of onboarding to providing unlimited money for ongoing education. They have mentorship programs that pair senior employees with new hires. They have an in-house university including online and classroom training to build skills in professional but also personal fields such as language courses, cooking courses, and public speaking (American Express). Tuition reimbursement is one of the most common perks that the top 100 companies offer employees so that they could pursue advanced degrees (ExactTarget). Along with providing training, these employers do a good job of promoting from within and providing clear career paths for employees. These companies have many growth opportunities and managers are extremely supportive of developing their staff to move up in the organization.
6. Healthy Living: More and more companies are building state-of-the-art fitness facilities in their headquarters. Employees and their families are welcome to use it free of charge. Additionally, the cafeteria is stocked with healthy food options (Navy Federal Credit). Wellness committees are composed of employees that organize healthy initiatives throughout the year. These companies dedicate a full week to health awareness and even offer discounts on health insurance to those that take on fitness challenges. Employees also love the random perks such as a masseuse who comes onsite once a week or the nutritionist and personal trainer that is paid for by the company to create personal health plans for employees. Spin, yoga, and zumba classes are often mentioned when employees talk about their amazing fitness programs.
7. Recognition: The number one cause of burnout is not the number of hours you give to work, but the feeling of not being recognized for your work. The top companies in the country have excellent recognition and rewards programs that ensure employees are appreciated on a daily basis (CHG Healthcare). Some of the fun programs include peer-nominated spot awards, raffle entries for some amazing give-a-ways (iPads, TVs, and even a car!), and even all-inclusive trips (Power Home Remodeling). A few companies have quarterly all hands meetings where they recognize employees for a variety of accomplishments such as above and beyond service, offering an outstanding process improvement idea, or just being an amazing team player.
8. Inspirational Leaders: When it comes to loyalty for a company, the number one factor that influences it is the owner, founder, President, or CEO of the company. Employees will speak highly of their company's' leader(s) and say they would do anything and go anywhere for them. These leaders are warm, approachable, and engaged with employees, often knowing the names of thousands of employees. They send personal birthday and welcome cards (Transwestern). They remember personal facts about the employees even if they only spoke once. The impression they have on their employees is one that is genuine, has integrity, and leaves the employee feeling like they are highly valued. These leaders are also transparent with the company status, often sharing industry news, company financials, and discussing how they could learn from mistakes (Hitachi Data Systems). These companies practice an open door policy and regularly solicit feedback from all levels of employees.
9. Social Responsibility: I can safely say that all of the top companies have some form of community involvement. These include hosting a week long charity event, fundraising for a specific cause, and matching donations from employees to their charities of choice. A number of companies give employees paid time off to volunteer (United Health Group). One company gives their employees money to spend in the local community to boost the economy of the city (Genentech). Many of these companies also have green initiatives and employee run teams that actively try to reduce the company's carbon footprint.