Historians believe the Lone Star State adopted “friendship” as its official motto in 1930 because the name “Texas” derived from a Native American word for friends. Its population and economic power have surged since then, but the state’s leading employers offer evidence that the Texan spirit of hospitality remains intact.
“When I showed up to my first day at Camden, my new team had decorated my office cabinets with ornate calligraphy welcoming me ‘home,’” recalls an employee with Camden Property Trust. “For the rest of the week, I couldn’t keep track of all the people from the entire organization who popped in or emailed to say ‘hi.’”
This team member went on to describe the Houston-headquartered property management company as “the most unique and friendly work environment I’ve ever experienced in my 15-year career.”
Camden is one of 50 companies recently named the Best Workplaces in Texas by our organization, research and consulting firm Great Place to Work, in partnership with Fortune. These businesses have found ways to help employees thrive while contributing to Texas’ status as one of the fastest-growing states in the union. Texas added 1.8 million jobs in the decade following 2004 while also enjoying a population increase of 6.1 million residents between 2000 and 2014. It consistently ranks as the top state for business, according to a survey of U.S. CEOs. And Austin, its capital, has become one of the most vibrant cities for startups.
Making good places great
The Best Workplaces have put themselves in prime position to capitalize on this economic expansion. Their team members say they are more likely stay at their companies for the long haul. They express a high level of pride that makes them ambassadors for their brands. At the same time, they’re more likely than people at peer companies to say their teams will go the extra mile to get the job done.
Behind these competitive advantages are high-trust work environments characterized by outsized levels of camaraderie. Among employees surveyed at the Best Workplaces, an average of 96 percent say their organizations are consistently friendly. The same share also say newcomers are made to feel welcome, and nearly as many noted that they’re proud to tell others where they work.
“The people at Texas Health Resources make it a great place to work because, from the highest levels of leadership to the support staff, they are all friendly, caring, engaging and supportive of each other. I’ve built many true and lasting friendships through my relationship with this employer, and I cherish that,” says one employee at the top company on the list.
This type of caring, productive environment thrives when employees feel the organization is behind them. As just one example, Texas Health Resources, a hospital system serving North Texas, ensures its employees feel connected to the community by offering eight to 12 hours of annual PTO for volunteer work with more than 200 nonprofits.
Attentive management, trusting teams
Employees at USAA (USAA) call out another strength of the Best Workplaces in Texas: confidence in their management. Says an employee of the San Antonio-based financial firm: “My manager takes the time to help me grow. He helps me choose growth points, how I can practice, and keeps me accountable. He is always available to me if I need to talk about work or team dynamics. He is very approachable and practices what he teaches. My team has flourished because of this.”
That sentiment is common at the Best Workplaces. Among their employees:
- An average of 87 percent say their managers’ actions match their words
- 88 percent say leaders show a sincere interest in them as people
- 85 percent say managers are good at coordinating team members and assigning tasks
- 85 percent also say their leadership keeps them informed of important issues and changes.
The winning companies scored at least eight percentage points higher in all of these areas compared to peer companies that didn’t make the list.
“Again and again, we see that respect from the top benefits people throughout the organization,” says Ashley Chavez, vice president of e-commerce at Great Place to Work. An Austin transplant, she’s also witnessed first-hand the ways leading companies do business a little different in the Lone Star State.
“It might sound like a stereotype, but the value companies place in a friendly culture here is real. Some of the biggest strengths of the best workplaces in Texas lie in their genuine concern for the wellbeing of their people.”
Kim Peters and Tabitha Russell are executive vice president and Certification program manager, respectively, at Great Place to Work, the longtime research partner for Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For and other best workplaces lists, including the Best Workplaces in Texas.