How do you become one of the best companies out there? Many Alabama firms believe a good first step is becoming one of the best companies to work for – so that you have the opportunity to attract and hire the best potential employees – and keep them once you’ve got them.
This year, 16 firms have been honored as among the Best Companies to Work for in Alabama.
Edward Jones, an investment firm with an array of individually managed offices in towns across Alabama and the nation, topped the 2016 list for large companies. More than 300 people work for Edward Jones in Alabama. The company moved up from second place in both 2014 and 2015 to top the list this year.
Welch Hornsby, also a financial services firm, took top honors among small-to-medium firms. The Birmingham-based firm has 26 employees in Alabama.
The firms are ranked after an extensive review by Best Companies Group, which evaluates many aspects of the company culture — such as vacation and sick time, fitness facilities, chances for advancement, community engagement, training, telecommuting and business dress. Employees are surveyed about topics such as their ability to make suggestions or to feel that their contributions are appreciated.
Beyond the honor of being recognized as a great place to work, companies also get feedback from Best Companies so they can respond to any issues their employees raise and move forward as a desirable workplace.
“We work hard to create a work environment that is meaningful and motivating to our associates and are especially proud when we are named a Best Company based on our associates’ feedback, ” says Edward Jones Regional Leader Jason Kozon. “We use the results to validate what is working well and identify areas of opportunity.”
Total Quality Logistics, or TQL, group sales manager Mackenzie Delsing, says: “Feedback from Best Companies surveys is extremely valuable to us. We are constantly taking our own pulse to find out what’s working and what’s not. Last year employees told us our maternity leave policy was outdated. The resulting parental leave policy gives new moms and dads paid time off upon the birth or adoption of a child. The Idea Bank on the Intranet welcomes any and all ideas from employees for making the company better.”
Consistent winner CTS Inc. finds the employee feedback from the Best Companies survey to be “incredibly valuable, ” says CEO Larry Lilley. “We saw a big interest in service, so our community service week was a direct result of the survey info.”
“We’ve been focused on this for a number of years and we always respond in a positive and meaningful way, particularly where we see our employees telling us we can do better, ” says Daniel Pittman, regional manager for the Southeast office of Gray, a major construction firm. “We are nothing without our people, so they drive our desire to be better. This is a great process and has helped us maintain a tremendous work environment.”
Says Bill Conner, president and CEO at America’s First Federal Credit Union: “If we see an area where employees have voiced a concern, we address it during our annual benefit review and try to modify or add benefits that will meet that need. Previous surveys told us that we needed to increase our training opportunities. Our new, multi-layered training programs have been a direct result of the Best Companies surveys.”
And Sandra Stenger, chief talent officer with Max Credit Union, says: “We’re moving the needle in the right direction. It’s good to see the changes we make lead to improvement.” Business Alabama introduces this year’s winners here.
Tom Little and Nancy Mann Jackson are freelance contributors to Business Alabama. Little is based in Birmingham and Jackson in Huntsville.