Eleven California Chamber of Commerce member companies in the Sacramento region were recognized as some of the best places to work for in 2016.
The 2016 “Best Places to Work” list, based on employee surveys conducted in partnership with Quantum Workplace, was published by the Sacramento Business Journal late last year. In the foreword to the rankings, Beth Davis, print and special sections editor for the Journal, explains that employee satisfaction is closely tied to productivity, which in turn fosters customer satisfaction. But, what makes a happy employee?
“Amid all the talk about paid days off and 401(k) plans, there seems to be a consensus that a Best Place to Work also needs to be a supportive and fun place to work,” said Davis. “That means an open-door policy with management. And plenty of opportunities for training and advancement.”
The companies on the Journal’s list approach employee satisfaction in novel ways. Below is a highlight of the practices that the featured CalChamber member companies employ to keep staff content. Companies are organized into four categories: Micro (10–24 employees), Small (25–49 employees), Medium (50–249 employees), and Large (more than 250 employees).
• Benefits Done Right Insurance Agency, an employee benefits brokerage, describes its company culture as “Caring, hardworking, fun, family, team.” The agency’s most popular perk is its dog-friendly workplace, as it views dogs as being part of its wellness program. Another perk is the company’s commitment to workplace ergonomics, giving employees desk configurations that are comfortable and conductive to working at the computer for long periods, and providing adjustable desks and quality seating options.
• Flagship Creative, a creative firm specializing in graphic design and programming services, believes the biggest mistake an owner/manager can make is micromanaging. Employee perks at Flagship Creative include snacks and career training opportunities.
• Nelson, a staffing agency, proactively seeks feedback from employees and provides health care benefits. Unique perks at the agency include a bonus floating holiday, a discounted new-car purchasing service, discounted gym memberships, pet insurance, discounted legal services, and identity theft protection. According to Crissy Russo, vice president of marketing at Nelson, the biggest mistake an owner/manager can make is “Not listening to his or her employees.”
• Borges Architectural Group, Inc., an architectural and interior design firm, shows employees they are valued by taking the time to learn about individual staff members’ likes/dislikes, granting staff autonomy to make decisions and allow for mistakes, and simply saying, “Thank you.” The firm provides flexible work schedules, a collaborative work environment, and accessibility to the company’s owners, “whose desks reside right in the middle of the action.”
• Boutin Jones Inc., a law firm providing business clients with transaction and litigation advice, says the biggest mistake an owner/manager can make is forgetting that employees are on the same team, working for the same goals. Perks at the firm include free doughnuts on Fridays, and reimbursement for industry associations and education.
• Gilbert Associates, Inc., a full-service CPA firm, believes employees’ growth stagnates when they stop learning. That’s why the firm encourages employees to take continuing education courses and set annual goals. The firm also supports work-life balance and provides remote access, social events, professional and community events, and a CPA exam bonus.
• Kitchell, a commercial contractor and architectural services company, is employee-owned, offering employees a stake in the company’s future. It creates individual development plans for each staff member that covers both their current position and future ambitions. Kitchell President Russ Fox states, “Our people are our business, and we want them to be completely engaged. That is why Sam Kitchell gave his company to his employees in the early ’70s. He thought they would be better stewards of the organization if they had a substantial stake in its growth.”
• Safelite Autoglass, nationwide provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, gives all employees two full paid days off work to volunteer at a charity of their choice. The company also offers technicians training programs and access to e-learning courses for professional development. Safelite believes in hiring from within—many of its managers are former techs and office staff.
• Wood Rodgers, a multidisciplinary engineering firm, provides employees with perks such as training/educational/professional development opportunities; fully stocked kitchens; flexible schedules; an anniversary wheel spin with cash prizes; generous bonus structure; flat organizational structure; great health benefits; 401(k) match for retirement; and team-building, company and family events.
• The Niello Co., one of the best auto dealerships to work for in North America, according to Automotive News, aims to treat both customers and employees with integrity. The company encourages self-improvement, offering training opportunities for employees to excel and move up the ladder. It invests in incentive programs to recognize employees for meeting business objectives, and company-sponsored events, such as catered luncheons and professional sports outings. The company also is moving its dealerships to a noncommission pay structure by mid-2017 to give employees 40-hour workweeks and predictable pay plans.
• Comcast, internet, video and phone provider, describes its company culture as “Employee-centric, inclusive, innovative.” Employees enjoy competitive pay, benefits, and learning/career development opportunities offered through “Comcast University.” The company’s most popular perk, however, is the free or reduced cable, internet, phone and home security courtesy services offered to employees.