100 Best Companies to Work For 2012

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

We all want to love going to work, to have a nurturing, welcoming workplace that makes our jobs easier, more enjoyable. We all know that not every company fits that description. Happily, the companies and organizations listed on these pages do, according to the very people who work there. Congratulations to the Seattle Business magazine 100 Best Companies to Work For of 2012!

 

100 Companies List (pdf download) 

Small Company Winners

Midsize Company Winners

Large Company Winners

Nonprofit Company Winners 

Company HQ Outside Washington Winners 

 

HOW TO BECOME A BEST COMPANY TO WORK FOR>

Benefits: Provide a comprehensive benefits package including dental. Offer a comprehensive retirement plan, paid vacation and sick leave, flexible hours, telecommuting and job-sharing opportunities.

Communication: Share good and bad news about the business. Make management accessible to employees and encourage feedback.

Corporate culture: Encourage employees to act and think independently. Focus on long-term success. Allow employees to act on their convictions.

Hiring and retention: Offer opportunities to advance. Maintain low turnover. Establish a formal program for identifying future leaders.

Performance standards: Create challenging but attainable performance goals mutually agreed upon by manager and employee. Conduct evaluations that are updated regularly. Leadership> Inspire employees to do well. Encourage team spirit. Respect employees and their opinions. Promote diversity. Encourage employees to take leadership. Build strong relationships based on trust.

Responsibility and decision making: Foster an environment of accountability. Give employees latitude and authority. Encourage problem solving and teamwork.

Rewards and recognition: Provide competitive and equitable salaries. Implement performance-based compensation. Provide bonuses for excellent performance. Regularly recognize individuals and groups.

Training and education: Promote employee development. Train mentors. Encourage employees to share expertise.

Work environment: Encourage creativity and brainstorming in a comfortable and safe setting. Provide balance between work and personal needs.

ENTER THE COMPETITION! NOMINATIONS GO LIVE IN SEPTEMBER.

JUDGES>

First-, second- and third-place winners in the 2012 Best Companies to Work For competition were determined by these judges.

John Hartman, CEO, CEOtoCEO

Cindy Olsen, vice president of human resources, Concur Technologies

Nita Petry, area president for Washington state, Gallagher Benefit Services Inc.

Jeannine Ryan, director of sales and marketing, Washington Employers

Brent Schlosstein, founder and principal, TRUEbenefits LLC

Laura Swapp, director of diversity and inclusion, REI

SIZING THEM UP>

For judging purposes, we separate companies into five categories: small (30 or fewer employees), midsize (31 to 100), large (more than 100), nonprofits and firms headquartered outside Washington.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS>

Seattle’s Gilmore Research Group compiled data submitted anonymously by thousands of employees from the nominated companies. (Firms can nominate themselves.) Gilmore uses the detailed responses to determine each business's score in such areas as communication, leadership, benefits, corporate culture and workplace environment. In addition to providing the basis for our judges to determine the top three winners in each category, Gilmore will prepare a customized report for any member of the 100 Best Companies to Work For interested in acquiring one.

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.
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New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.