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How the Best U.S. Companies Differentiate Themselves from the Rest

By Janet Stocks (New York City)

What’s it like to work for one of Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Employers? For starters: perks, perks, perks. Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” pride themselves on providing competitive salaries, excellent health care packages, discounted child care, an exceptional work/life balance, optional telecommuting, fully paid sabbaticals, referral bonuses, tuition remission, and unlimited sick days, just to name a few.

Quality benefits packages can serve to attract and retain employees, but that’s not the sole reason that makes a company “the best.” According to an article published by the Harvard Business Review, “If you don’t recognize your employees’ specific interpersonal talents, you could be missing a big opportunity to enhance their job satisfaction and boost your organization’s overall performance.”

Fortune’s top 5 companies in 2010 understand what it takes to recruit, hire, and retain quality employees, improve employee satisfaction, and maintain a productive workforce. Fortune’s Deputy Managing Editor, Hank Gilman, explained that “The most important considerations for this year’s list were hiring and the ways in which companies are helping their employees weather the recession. All 100 companies on our list are currently hiring, representing a total of more than 92,000 open job positions.”

SAS

Jenn Mann, Vice President of Human Resources for number 1 ranked SAS said, “In a tough economy, SAS did not waver from our commitment to our employees and the innovative culture that keeps them challenged and provides work-life balance. SAS’ continued success proves our core belief: Happy, healthy employees are more productive.”

Edward Jones

Representing number 2 ranked Edward Jones, Jim Weddle, Edward Jones’ managing partner, spoke of the importance of respect for your employees especially in a difficult economy. Weddle explained “…we were able to stay focused on the long-term because we are a partnership and we know who we are and what we do. We had no layoffs. We had to make some difficult decisions in terms of cutting back expenses, which we did successfully. But when you respect the people who work here, you take care of them – not just in the good times, but the difficult times as well.” (http://www.edwardjones.com/groups/ejw_content/@ejw/@us/documents/web_content/web222695.pdf)

Wegmans Food Markets

CEO Danny Wegman of number 3 ranked Wegmans Food Markets said, “It’s our people who make Wegmans a great place to work. They respect and care for one another and for our customers. I am very grateful and proud of what they are able to accomplish.” Wegmans’ commitment to its employees shows as the company “…has never had a layoff in its 94-year history. More than 4,000 employees, 11% of the workforce, have been [there] more than 15 years.”

Google

Number 4 ranked Google offers “challenging projects and smart people with potential to change the world. Googlers relish the freedom to create the next generation of web technologies in an environment designed to foster collaboration, creativity, health, and happiness.” Larry Page, Google Co-Founder, says that “Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled, and hard-working stars.”

Nugget Market

Nugget Market, ranked number 5 by Fortune, has been extra-sensitive to their employees’ financial hardships and has made an honest attempt to help out. According to Fortune, “The tough economy prompted the supermarket chain to help associates by giving them cards good for 10% discounts on $500 of groceries every month. At one employee-appreciation event, the executive team surprised everyone by washing the cars of all associates.” Store Director, John Sullivan, said “I wouldn’t ask any associate to do something I wouldn’t do myself, whether it’s mopping up a spill or taking the trash out. That’s the kind of leadership I give my team. In doing that, we have a wonderful relationship in the store. We really are a family.”

As an Evolved Employer, how are you showing your employees that you care?

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