For the third year in a row, the insurance company tops the Great Place to Work Institute's list. There are the usual perks, such as an on-site cafeteria and gym. All field employees, managers, executives and board members get an iPhone and an iPad so that everyone could stay in touch using FaceTime. Acknowledging the long hours on the road spent by field staff, Acuity provides them with a $75 allowance for books on tape to keep them intellectually stimulated on company car trips
Integrity Applications Incorporated
With nearly 90% of hires coming through employee referrals, the Virginia-based tech company has a reputation for keeping its staff happy. Health benefits for employees and their dependents are fully covered, and CEO Joe Brickey writes personal letters to employees' spouses welcoming them to the family. He also lets employees' children design the company holiday cards.
Employees contribute to "The Giving Tree," an emergency fund that workers can apply for to get support in a crisis. The spirit of employee generosity continues, with staff giving each other "Random Acts of Kindness Awards." There is also an on-site "serenity room" with a massage chair for employees looking for some mid-day Zen.
Pinnacle Financial Partners
At Pinnacle, fellow employees will be there when you're up against a wall. Literally. New-hire orientation ends with a team-building exercise where associates have to help each other scale a 12-foot wall. Individual and team performances are rewarded with cash incentives and stock options grants. The firm also offers personal enrichment activities for employees ranging from book clubs to health and fitness programs.
It's all about family at Eileen Fisher, especially for employees who are looking to start one of their own. The women's clothing store offers 12 weeks of paid time off for new adoptive parents. In addition, it provides assistance for fertility treatment. The company's wellness program provides $1,000 a year that employees can spend on activities that improve their health, which can include anything from sports to even gardening.
The Texas-based tax consultancy firm believes in a results-based work environment, giving employees flexible schedules and listening to their feedback on improving work-life balance. The company celebrates its milestones by taking employees and their families on trips to Las Vegas and Disney World. They also invest in training their own to recruit -- all new hires are required to attend interview training so they can one day participate in hiring future employees.
The company, known for the production of its hip and colorful smartphone cases, makes sure it brings the same fun element to its headquarters. The new office space is equipped with a playground slide, open meeting spaces, game rooms and a fitness center. All employees are eligible to receive a share of company profits and staff can give instant feedback during meetings using live, text-based polling.
The Colorado-based software company offers plenty of perks, ranging from 100% paid health coverage for its 340 employees and their families to unlimited sick days. The laid-back culture allows for new moms to bring their babies to work, game-room breaks and Friday yoga classes. There's also a focus on philanthropy, with the company encouraging staff to spend 1% of their paid time volunteering for charity work.
The Austin-based company supports homegrown talent by having monthly "Cirrus Logic Rocks!" concert events on the company's outdoor terrace featuring local musicians. Support for local artists also continues through the company's support of an organization that provides health-care services to struggling musicians. There are also incentives for staff to actively recruit talent, and when an employee referral gets hired, the referrer gets cash and an iPad as a reward.
Ehrhardt Keefe Steiner & Hottman PC
Tax season is tough on accountants, and the Denver-based EKSH takes care of its own during the harder months of the year. The company provides meals for the employees during busy season and at its end, it sends a thank-you note and a $100 gift card to employees' spouses/significant others thanking them for their support. The company also gives out gift cards for employees who get married, ranging from $100 to $1,000, depending on tenure.
Return Path Inc.
To help compensate employees who take maternity leave, Return Path pays the difference between the short-term disability payment and the regular salary of the employee. In addition, deserving employees get unlimited vacation or sick days. The company also promotes community activity, with workers participating in fundraisers for medical research and holiday food drives.
There's a focus on family at the Virginia-based job search website, especially new ones. New parents within the company get one week of chef-prepared meals o help ease the transition into parenthood. They also get the option of three days of free backup childcare in case they need it. Employees seeking additional industry-specific opportunities including conferences, webinars and workshops can get a supplementary training budget of approximately $1,500.
The custom-designed t-shirt website eases its employees in and out of the weekend with free lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday. In addition, they get access to free t-shirts and jackets from the company. Individuality is encouraged, with employees decorating their personal spaces with art, toys and other quirks. New hires start with 15 days of personal leave and receive an additional 10 days to the balance after one year of service.
Employees at the Virginia-based technology firm can take advantage of flexible scheduling, setting their own work hours. The company makes sure all its employees are up to speed by holding "Technology Tuesdays." These brown bag lunch sessions are where the latest science and technology challenges are discussed. For employees travelling for work, the company also provides emergency travel insurance.
The company celebrates landing a big contract with "win" parties and takes pride in sharing its success with its employees. Employees own 30% of Spectrum's stock, and they have seen its price increase by about 40% in the last four years. The company also has employee initiative programs where anyone who can come up with ways to save money or generate additional revenue gets a share of the money generated.
Spokane Teachers Credit Union
The Washington credit union allocates bonuses to its employees based on company performance rather than individual work, focusing on teamwork and efficiency. It allows parents to take time off for their kids' first day of kindergarten and first grade, as well as for parent-teacher conferences.
The consumer research company has its own version of the The Office's "Party Planning Committee," and they get $50,000 every year to plan fun events for the rest of the team. The money is mostly for the company's summer picnic, but also includes sporting events and tailgate parties. Employees with more than five years qualify for an annual "Treat Yourself" allowance of $500 and an extra week's vacation. They can also look forward to the annual "Skills Development Course"
Embrace Home Loans
The mortgage company's motto "Not Too Big to Feel" is a cheeky reference to big banks during the housing crisis, a time that saw Embrace Home Loans nearly double in size when other banks were shutting down. The company lives up to its motto with its "Embrace Cares" program, where employees are offered 100 hours of paid time off if they use it for volunteering. The company also matches employee donations up to $2,500 a year per employee.
Nearly half of the employees at the government technology contractor are women, an exceptional occurrence in this field. The company sends employees flowers and offers donations for big life events like weddings or funerals. Merit-based scholarships are available for employees' children and each employee can take advantage of a $250 wellness benefit. For every 10 hours an employee volunteers at a specific charity, Delta matches with a $25 contribution.
Regardless of what time you started, everybody gets off work at 3:30 pm on Fridays at Holder Construction, giving everybody a head start on the weekend. Parents receive a bunch of perks, getting time off for parent-teacher conferences, school plays and other events for their kids. They also get 8 weeks of paid maternity leave; with 12 weeks off if they are adopting a child.
Veterans United Home Loans
Employees get to take advantage of free Monday lunches, weekly massages and a host of other fun activities at the real estate lending company, but they are also encouraged to give back to the community. The Veterans United Foundation is an entirely employee-driven foundation, and they donate 1% of their salaries to benefit the military community, an amount matched by the company in the employee's name.
The promotional printing company knows how to keep its employees happy, boasting a 2% turnover rate, one of the lowest around. Part of that low turnover is achieved by giving 100% of the employees stock options, but another attractive feature is the company's "36-hour rule" which allows associates up to 4 hours a month unpaid for doctor's appointments and other medical needs, without having to use their paid time off.
Even salaried employees are eligible to receive overtime at the Virginia-based data analytics firm, a perk they can pair with their flexible work scheduling. The employees own 90% of the company, so they are given frequent rounds of Employee Stock Ownership Plan training to ensure they fully understand the benefits and responsibilities of being an employee-owner.
Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
In addition to getting on-site massages and manicures, employees get to take advantage of free Rosetta Stone software if they want to learn a different language, keeping in line with Mercedes-Benz's status as an international company. There is also an annual Leadership Roundtable that brings new leaders together for learning and networking.
One of the more unique perks at the Connecticut-based data analytics firm is an on-site community farm that employees can help with. There's a weekly delivery of locally grown, fresh produce delivered right to Higher One's offices. In addition, employees get to take paid time off for their birthday and can avail themselves of the fitness center and free healthy lunches at the company's on-site cafés.
How we pick the 50 best workplaces
To pick the 50 Best Small & Medium Workplaces, Great Place to Work Institute conducts an extensive investigation into employee attitudes and the workplace culture at companies with fewer than 1000 employees.
Nearly 40,000 employees at 331 companies responded to Great Place to Work's Trust Index survey, which is sent to a random sample of employees from each company. The survey asks questions related to their attitudes about management's credibility, job satisfaction, and camaraderie. The results comprise two-thirds of a company's total score.
The other third is based on responses to Great Place to Work's Culture Audit, which includes detailed questions about pay and benefit programs and a series of open-ended questions about hiring practices, methods of internal communication, training, recognition programs, and diversity efforts. After evaluations are completed, if news about a company comes to light that may significantly damage employees' faith in management, we may exclude it from the list.
Any company that is at least 2 years old and has between 25 and 999 U.S. employees is eligible. The deadline for applying for next year's list is July 1, 2013. For an online nomination form, go to the Great Place to Work Institute's web site.