Power Sheet – March 4, 2016


Leaders can learn a ton from our ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, the new edition of which we’ve just released. I no longer have to harangue employers about actually believing, and not just saying, that human capital is the most valuable asset they’ve got, no matter what industry they’re in. So what can we learn from this year’s list? Take a look at the top ten and see what you notice:

Produced by Ryan Derousseau
  1. Alphabet, Mountain View, California
  2. Acuity Insurance, Sheboygan, Wisconsin
  3. Boston Consulting Group, Boston
  4. Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, New York
  5. Quicken Loans, Detroit
  6. Robert W. Baird, Milwaukee
  7. Kimley-Horn and Associates, Cary, North Carolina
  8. SAS Institute, Cary, North Carolina
  9. Camden Property Trust, Houston
  10. Edward Jones, St. Louis

Immediately striking are the locations. This is mainly – not entirely, but mainly – a heartland group. Two of the top ten are in Wisconsin, less than an hour’s drive apart. Two are in Cary, North Carolina, for heaven’s sake. Even the big cities – Detroit, Houston, St. Louis – are mostly far from the coasts. The outstanding exception is Boston Consulting Group, and of course Alphabet is also coastal, though not in a metropolis. But you can’t help suspecting there may be something culturally important in being away from giant, old cities – New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.

It isn’t the perks. Some of these companies, notably Alphabet and SAS Institute, are famous for the most extravagant perks anywhere. As an Alphabet employee told Great Place to Work Institute, which compiles the ranking for Fortune, the company offers employees “three prepared organic meals a day, unlimited snacks, artisan coffee and tea. free personal-fitness classes, health clinics, on-site oil changes, haircuts, spa truck, bike-repair truck, nap pods, free on-site laundry rooms, and subsidized wash and fold.” And that’s not the whole list. But other employers in the top ten offer perks that are nice though not jaw-dropping. Consider Acuity Insurance, right behind Alphabet at No. 2. Employees pay part of their healthcare costs, and you won’t get job sharing, onsite child care, or fully paid sabbaticals. The larger point, made by workers at even the most generous employers, is that great perks aren’t the most important thing. Rather it’s the culture, the personal relationships, and especially their relationship with their boss. No company bats 1.000, but the best employers manage those relationships extremely well.

Trust and recognition are crucial. It comes through in details. For example, most of these top ten companies offer unlimited sick days; if you say you’re sick, there’s no arguing. And many of them recognize excellent performance publicly, often in small but meaningful ways that cost little or nothing – token awards, small celebrations, or just public praise. So simple, so powerful, yet so often overlooked by most employers.

I believe all leaders could profit by perusing this new ranking and the company profiles. You may not learn anything really new; the most important insights are deep human truths that you’ve always known. But these examples of how to attract and keep great people can show all of us where our own organizations have gone astray.

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What We're Reading Today

Google named the Best Company to Work For

In Fortune's annual ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, Google (now part of Alphabet) heads the list for the 7th time. Last year, Larry Page's company introduced virtual doctor visits to its health coverage and breast cancer screenings at headquarters. New to the list is Christopher Nassetta's Hilton Hotels.  Fortune

Adidas to open 3,000 stores in China by 2020 

The plan announced by Adidas China head Colin Currie will increase the number of Adidas stores in the country from 9,000 to 12,000 in five years. But concerns about  China's growth potential persist. Adidas, which has struggled in North America, will give the CEO's job to Henkel CEO Kasper Rorsted in October. WSJ

North Korea leader: "Nuclear warheads need to be ready"

The proclamation by Kim Jong Un follows the United Nations' decision to impose new sanctions on the country for its recent nuclear test. Kim said North Korea should have its nuclear arsenal at the ready for use "at any time." But there's still debate over whether the country even has a working nuclear arsenal. CNN

Brazilian senator set to testify against President Rousseff

Last November, Senator Delcidio do Amaral was arrested for embezzlement and bribery linked to Brazil's national oil company, Petrobras. He's reportedly negotiating a plea deal that will include his testifying that President Dilma Rousseff obstructed the Petrobras investigation. Rousseff's party called the reports lies or selective truths. Police raided the home of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and have him in custody as authorities investigate his involvement in the Petrobras scandal. Yahoo News

Building a Better Leader

Costco increases its minimum wage

It'll boost its hourly base pay by $1.50 in the U.S. and Canada, to $13 to $13.50. It follows Walmart's move to increase pay to $10 an hour this year. CBS News

Paying back employees' student loans...

...has become more commonplace among companies in the Best Companies to Work For list. But still only 3% of companies nationally offer this perk. Fortune

Don't let minor offenses... 

...knock you off your game. The person throwing the insults may still have something to add. SmartBrief

At the GOP Debate

Underdogs attack 

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich spent nearly the entire debate attacking Donald Trump. Rubio mocked his use of foreign workers. Trump changed his immigration stance, saying he supports allowing more highly skilled workers into the U.S. with visas. Kasich tried to be the peacemaker, calling for an end to the fighting. But the fissure within the GOP was the overwhelming reality of the day. Washington Post

Candidates vow to support Trump if they lose

Amid all the fighting, Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich said they would back Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee. Earlier in the day, Mitt Romney denounced Trump and urged Republicans to prevent him from becoming the nominee, saying he was unfit for the presidency and his nomination would hand the White House to Hillary Clinton. USA Today

The debate gets vulgar 

In a very odd exchange, Rubio attacked the size of Trump's hands. Trump is reportedly very sensitive about the subject. He responded while staring at his hands, "Look at those hands. Are these small hands? And . . . if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there’s no problem.”   NYT

Fortune Reads and Videos

Brazil investigates McDonald's 

One of the country's largest unions claims McDonald's has violated tax and labor law. Fortune

Facebook to pay a lot more taxes in the UK 

It's revising its tax strategy, which could increase its tax hit by millions in order to respond to new UK laws. Fortune

Former top government officials...

...voice support for Apple in its fight against the FBI. Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it's akin to asking Apple to create "a bacterial biological weapon.”  Fortune

Chris Christie was not held captive by Trump...

...according to Chris Christie. Thrilled to hear that's cleared up. Fortune

Happy Birthday

Rick Perry, former governor of Texas and Republican presidential candidate, turns 66 today.  Biography

Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan turns 90 on Sunday.  Biography

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