Human Capital 30: Companies that Put Employees Front and Center
Many CEOs love to talk about the importance of their employees. “Our people are our greatest asset,” is an all-too-familiar phrase. But very few executives manage to translate such words into action.
The following 30 companies truly stand apart from the crowd. These businesses have created work environments that support and encourage the educational development, professional growth, and overall satisfaction of its workers. In return, they have been rewarded with extremely low annual turnover rates.
Here is Fortune’s Human Capital 30 list, an unranked collection of businesses that have put their people front and center.
Want to know how your company can build a great culture like the 30 companies listed here? We asked Josh Bersin of Deloitte (No. 90 on Fortune‘s 100 Best Companies list) for five tips to get you on your way.
An employee works on a laptop in a common area at Google Canada’s engineering headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.Photograph by Cole Burston — Bloomberg via Getty Images
Google has been on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for 10 years, thanks to sparking the imagination of its talented and highly compensated workers. One Googler put it this way to Fortune: One Googler explained, “The company culture truly makes workers feel they’re valued and respected as a human being, not as a cog in a machine.”
The online mortgage lender’s move of more than 8,000 employees to Detroit from the suburbs in 2010 has helped spark one of the largest urban renewal projects in the nation’s history. It also offers its full-time employees an average of 350 hours of training every year and has a low 13% full-time staff turnover rate.
The Palo Alto-based maker of virtualization software has a 105-acre campus with more than 1,500 trees, including an oasis of 75 palm trees and a skyway. The onsite gym offers a class in “Mindfulness for Techies,” and there are courses in meditation, tai-chi, and yoga. If that’s not enough, the company pays for employees to participate in the “Chill Program,” a five-week stress-management course. The campus welcomes dogs and provides doggie waste bags and receptacles.
Arthrex pioneered the field of arthroscopy (minimally invasive surgery on joints) and has developed more than 9,500 surgical devices and procedures since its founding in 1984. The company enjoys a very low full-time voluntary turnover rate of 5% and it offers an annual maximum of $8,000 in tuition reimbursement to its staff.
Carved over the entrance of the San Antonio headquarters of this oil pipeline and terminal operator are these words: “The Best is Yet to Come.” NuStar employees are appreciated for their efforts and achievements with gifts, parties and recognition events, and are given perks like 100% healthcare coverage, a rich 401(k) and defined benefit pension plan, company-wide bonuses, and 60 hours of paid-time-off to volunteer. Chairman Greehey calls NuStar’s no-layoff policy a “sacred trust,” and says that as long as employees do a good job, they will have a good job.
How do you navigate a volatile stock market? This employee-owned financial services firm credits a strong culture based on unconditional respect for all employees and a rigorous approach to equity for keeping them on course. Everyone has the same standard size office in Baird’s newly renovated headquarters, and there are no executive perks.
This upscale custom homebuilder flies every new employee into Houston for Weekley 101: two days of Jeopardy, building and selling Lego homes, and learning Weekley-isms (saying “growth review” rather than “performance evaluation,” or “owner’s retreat” rather than “master bedroom,” or “retreat area” rather than “gameroom.”) A big hit at these sessions is a video skit in which the CEO, posed in tights and a cape, leads new hires on a journey through the history of the company. They explain: “The video is a glimpse into the zany culture we take pride in.”
Medical staffing firm lives by the mantra “Putting People First.” Every year, employees nominate peers who best exemplify their corporate philosophy by making a difference in the lives of others. Four winners and their guests will get an all-expense-paid trip to Kenya in 2016 to participate in a service project and go on safari.
With more than 11,900 brokerage offices advising some 7 million individual investors, the firm fosters camaraderie by hosting summer regional meetings for financial advisors and their families at a resort for a weekend full of music, food, games and swimming and golf, business meetings and award presentations. When they started this practice in 1988, about 3,000 employees attended. Last year, 229 regional gatherings drew more than 37,000 employees.
With a workforce of more than 12,000 employees spread out over 172 sites, Stryker offers more than 60,000 medical devices, including implants used in joint replacement surgeries and surgical navigation and endoscopic systems. To make sure employees understand how their products are used, they encourage them to observe surgeries and attend trade shows and ride along with sales reps during meetings with customers, as well as hear patient stories. One inspired employee remarked: “I see the face of someone who is alive because of our product, and that’s amazing.”
The Missouri-based systems integration company offers its full-time, salaried employees an average of 100 hours of training per year and eight hours of paid time to do volunteer work. It also has a tuition reimbursement program that gives staffers a maximum of $5,000 per year to pursue studies outside of work.
From the CEO on down, everyone at Hyatt is on a first-name basis, and hotels regularly host “Night Owl Breakfasts” when managers serve meals to night-shift workers, share information and gather feedback. During the past 12 months, Hyatt chose to promote an internal candidate more than 47% of the time.
This Ohio-based business software firm, which counts clients like the Mayo Clinic and Sherwin Williams, offers employees perks like flex days, paid sabbaticals, on-site fitness classes, and a clinic with a nurse, chiropractor, physical therapist, dietician and health coach. Hyland pays up to $10k in tuition reimbursement for employees and provides between 50-77 hours of training each year.
A high speed production line of insulin is pictured at the factory of Novo Nordisk, a global healthcare company in Chartres.Photograph by Jean-Francois Monier — AFP/Getty Images
This synthetic fabric manufacturer of Gore-Tex and Glide dental floss has a long tradition of making money and having fun doing so, dating back to the 1950s and 60s, when Bill and Vieve Gore invited all associates over to their home for the annual company picnic. Now, plants hold celebrations for business milestones, have dedicated fun committees and raise money for the philanthropic fund. It enjoys a very low 3% voluntary turnover rate among full-time employees.
Cadence has a remarkably low turnover rate of about 6.5% a year. What’s more, some 45% of this firm’s U.S. workforce has been here for more than ten years. That’s remarkable considering that more than half of their U.S.-based employees are based in the heart of Silicon Valley. They attribute their ability to retain folks largely on a culture devoted to innovation.
Deloitte’s big draw is education: four million learning hours were delivered to employees last year with special development programs in place to advance those traditionally considered “minorities.” (Women and minorities currently represent nearly half of management.) All employees are supported in pursuing higher education: $10K in tuition reimbursement and $25K to help doctoral candidates cover expenses to write their dissertations. Select MBA candidates who return to Deloitte after business school can qualify for a reimbursement on their graduate school tuition.
This third generation family-owned life and health insurance company has undergone a mini culture revival recently. They handed out a wallet-sized pamphlet called the “AFA Hymnal” to make sure that everyone is on the same page about the company’s purpose, strategy, values and goals. Last year was the 19th consecutive year the company has met its AFA All-Colleague Bonus. Over $24 million was given back to employees, based on the firm’s financial performance. That’s a whopping average of more than $20k per employee! Ninety-five percent of the officers have come up through the ranks at AFA.
It’s one of the country’s highest-grossing law firms, but employees rave about the company’s egalitarian approach. “Decisions [are] usually made by consensus rather than in a top-down fashion,” one attorney told us. The Seattle-based firm encourages employees to take time off to recharge, offering two-month paid sabbatical leave for all employees, including staff. In a pioneering move, the firm also gives attorneys who are primary care parents 140 hours of legal credit to help them balance work and parenthood, and during the transition out of work prior to their leave or back into work following leave.
Kirt Bocox, senior tax manager at the KPMG office in Orlando.Photograph by Chris McEniry for Fortune
To encourage employees to focus on the greater purpose in their work, this Big Four accountancy launched a “10,000 Stories Challenge,” in which staff members created poster stories to highlight the positive impact of their work. Offices with the highest participation rate received $20,000 each to donate to charity.
This law firm balances hard work with a laid-back culture that includes gumbo and chili cook-offs and birthday beer carts. Attorneys appreciate that the firm has demystified the path to becoming partner (called “shareholder” here): Associates can view one another’s performance stats, and CEO Ben Adams explains the final decision-making.
The benefits are sweet at the maker of M&M’s, Snickers and DoubleMint confectionary: a pension plan plus a hefty 401(k) match, 30 days of paternity leave, and 16 hours of paid time off to volunteer. But it’s the principle of “mutuality” that has guided the company for over 70 years, where team members always try to create a win-win situation. Last year over 6,000 associates gave more than 24,000 hours to charities, causes, and organizations in need. Through the Mars Ambassador Program, associates share their professional or technical expertise with a business partner or non-profit relevant to Mars’ business. Issues of interest include cocoa sustainability, health and nutrition, conservation, and animal welfare, just to name a few.
O.C. Tanner partners with companies to design and implement employee recognition programs and practices what it preaches. “Ideation Stations” with iPads are dotted throughout the campus, allowing staff to share their ideas.
Attorneys and staff at Orrick get plenty of guidance and support from mentors and coaches that give tips on career, writing, MBA courses and what it’s like to be a new parent. Partners also receive $3,500 to hire a business development coach to help improve skills. To spur better solutions, any employee can compete for the firm’s “Innovation Prize,” with $50,000 going to the team member with the best idea to improve the firm.
Texas Health Resources trains employees to serve as “Promise Coaches” to help mediate conflicts, and promotes community-giving and departmental team-building by encouraging employees to volunteer together. After international rescue organizations placed a large number of Burmese refugees in the Dallas area, the company established a dedicated clinic for this population, training employees on Burmese culture, hiring an in-house interpreter, and serving Burmese meals.
The Wall Street firm’s employees love working here. Money is one reason. Wellness is another. In recent years the company has been holding a Resilience Week featuring speakers who discuss such topics as “Happiness and Stress.”
This Silicon Valley-based law firm advises top tech companies–like Facebook, Yelp! and Google. Attorneys receive the same credit for pro bono hours as they do for paid work. Partners are compensated based on their overall contribution to the firm, not merely the amount of business they bring in. One employee told us, “There are no big egos or hierarchical structures.”
The human capital management company gives its employees 16 hours per year of paid leave to do volunteer work and it offers a maximum of $5,250 per year in tuition reimbursement. It enjoys a very low 4% volunteer annual turnover among full-time employees.
Salesforce.com has logged over 1.3 million volunteer hours and donated more than $100 million in grants. Employees receive seven paid days a year to volunteer, and one employee told us: “We have the flexibility and support to volunteer on our own, yet be supported by the company.” To prove it, staff member donations are matched, dollar for dollar, by the company.
Methodology: To compile the Human Capital 30 list, Fortune editors generated a composite ranking based on data from the 2016 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, including annual turnover among full-time employees, hours devoted to training full-time hourly and salaried employees, paid time off to volunteer, the availability of flexible work arrangements, and tuition reimbursement programs. Editors combined this analysis with a series of subjective, qualitative factors to come up with a final list of 30 companies.