What Does It Take to Become a Best Company to Work For?

We’re often asked how businesses make the list.

People like to rave about companies that have pool tables in their lounges, free massages at employees’ desks and Friday afternoon happy hours at favorite watering holes. But seldom will such perks make us passionate about the companies we work for.

What gets us out of bed every morning excited about going to work involves more complex variables. Of course, nobody wants to work for a company that compels us to work long hours through fear and intimidation. But what are the positive characteristics we should look for when searching for that perfect match? We identify the businessess in our annual 100 Best Companies to Work For feature this month by sending employees of nominated firms an extensive list of questions to answer anonymously. We ask them to rate their companies and their management on the following issues we believe are most likely to create a fulfilling environment for employees.

Benefits. Does the company offer a comprehensive benefits package, including such things as dental coverage, paid vacation and sick leave? Does it offer flexible work hours, telecommuting and job-sharing opportunities?

Communication. Does the company effectively share news about the business, both good and bad? Do managers make themselves available to employees and encourage employee feedback?

Corporate Culture. Does the company encourage employees to act and think independently, focus on long-term success and allow employees to act on their convictions?

Hiring and Retention. Are there opportunities to advance? Does the company have a formal program to identify future leaders? What is turnover like?

Executive Leadership. How well do managers encourage collaboration? Do they respect employees and their opinions, and promote diversity? Do they build strong relationships based on trust and encourage employees to take leadership?

Performance Standards. Do managers establish challenging but attainable performance goals mutually agreed upon by the manager and the employee?

Responsibility and Decision Making. Is there an environment of accountability? Are employees given latitude and authority and encouraged to solve problems through teamwork?

Rewards and Recognition. Are salaries equitable and competitive and based on performance? Are individuals and groups recognized, and are there bonuses for excellent performance?

Training and Education. Does the company promote employee development through training and mentoring programs?

Work Environment. Are employees encouraged to be creative and to brainstorm solutions to problems in a safe setting? Is there a proper balance between work and personal needs?

That’s a pretty comprehensive list, and employees are usually honest in evaluating managers. Are there other criteria you think we should include in future surveys? Is there a company out there that you think should be included on the list? Let us know. We would love to hear from you.

LESLIE HELM is executive editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at leslie.helm@tigeroak.com.

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Or would you rather end up on his enemies list?

Imagine getting a call inviting you to work for your country.

Now imagine your new boss is Donald J. Trump.

Would you move to Washington, D.C., to work for the president of the United States? For this president of the United States?

From what we know through simple observation, Donald Trump suffers from chronic narcissism, he doesn’t read much, he rarely smiles, he has a vindictive streak, he treats women badly, he has the argumentative skills of a bruised tangerine, he fears foreigners almost as much as he fears the truth and he spends his waking hours attached to marionette strings being manipulated by Steve “I Shave on Alternate Thursdays” Bannon.

Sure, you’ve probably suffered under bad bosses. But this guy takes the plagiarized inauguration cake. He thinks it’s OK to assault women. He made fun of a journalist’s disability. He said a judge couldn’t be impartial because of his ethnic heritage. He doesn’t pay people who have done work for him. He has been a plaintiff in nearly 2,000 lawsuits.

We have to assume that Sally Yates, the acting attorney general who got herself fired in January for standing up to President Trump’s ban on accepting immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, has probably updated her résumé by now. No doubt she proudly included a mention that she torched the president whose approval rating after one week in office had dropped faster than it had for anchovy-swirl ice cream.

If I worked for Trump, it would most likely be a challenging assignment. I try to be gracious and diplomatic with supervisors and coworkers, but I draw the line with people who lie to me. Or lie to others and put me in an awkward position. With them, I’m not so gracious, and I don’t hold my tongue. Which would probably get me early induction into the Sally Yates Hall of Flame.

Or maybe on the president’s enemies list. None other than Trump’s reality-TV pal, Omarosa Manigault, has revealed that the president possesses a long memory — longer, even, than his neckties — and that his people are “keeping a list” of those who don’t like him.

I know I should give my president the benefit of the doubt, but I’m happy to make an exception in this case. I don’t like Donald Trump. And I would be honored to be on his enemies list. Not since I played pickup baseball in grade school have I had such an urge to scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Being added to a Presidential Enemies List would be such a treat, a career topper, really. Better than submitting to a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Or watching reruns of Celebrity Apprentice. Without anesthesia.

If selected, I would pledge to save my best words for the president and I would only use them in the bigliest way.

Of course, making the enemies list means I might never get the call to join the new administration. I might never get to engage in locker-room banter with POTUS. I might never get to untangle the marionette strings. I might never get to buy razors for Steve Bannon.

It is a sobering realization. But we must serve where we are best suited.

John Levesque is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at john.levesque@tigeroak.com.