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"It's been a rough couple of years for jobs. But lots of companies still want to be good places to work--and 59 of the companies on the list actually added to their payrolls last year," write Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work Institute, which researches and compiles the list. Noteworthy list changes include: Only 16 high-tech companies made this year's list, as opposed to 22 five years ago and there are now seven hospitals, up from two in 1998. In addition, sixteen newcomers made the cut, including the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN), highway builder Granite Construction (Watsonville, CA), and mall chain Hot Topic (City of Industry, CA).
Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird, which offers generous maternity leave for mothers (and fathers if they are the primary caregivers) and has an on-site child-care center, is No. 2 on the list. No. 3, Dallas-based Container Store, helps employees reduce stress by offering yoga, monthly chair massages, stretching classes and an online exercise and nutrition diary personalized for every worker. At No. 4 is Edward Jones, the financial services firm based in St. Louis that continues to grow--it added 1,500 employees in the past 12 months--and has not had a layoff in 34 years. Republic Bancorp of Owosso, Michigan, is No. 5. Last year, 300 employees were awarded trips to Aruba, Cancun, and the Dominican Republic, and all employees receive stock options.
Rounding out the top ten are Adobe Systems (No. 6), whose new high-rise in San Jose will include a basketball court; TDIndustries (No. 7), the Dallas company where all employees are allowed 100% reimbursement of tuition, fees, and books at any state-supported college; SAS Institute (No. 8) in Cary, N.C., where employees enjoy three different cafeterias, two Montessori child-care centers, and an on-site fitness center with a ten-lane pool; Rochester-based Wegmans Food Markets (No. 9), which offers zero-premium health insurance to employees making less than $55,000 and where 652 workers have been at the company 25 years or more; and Xilinx (No. 10), the San Jose chipmaker that continued its "no lay-off" policy by requiring management to take a 20% pay cut.
"Overall," conclude Levering and Moskowitz, "today's lesson is that perks are nice, but employees are looking for something more basic. They want to be told the truth, especially if the news is bad. They also want, corny as it sounds, to feel they make a difference and to be given a chance to grow."
To create the list, Levering and Moskowitz surveyed 46,526 randomly selected employees from 304 candidate companies who filled out an employee-opinion survey. Nearly half also gave written comments about their workplaces. Each candidate company also filled out a questionnaire detailing its people policies, practices, and philosophies. Companies were evaluated on both the employee surveys and the company questionnaires, with the employees' opinions being given two-thirds of the total score. "The most important factor in selecting companies for this list is what employees themselves have to say about their workplaces," write Levering and Moskowitz.
The 2004 100 Best Companies to Work For package at www.fortune.com will include several Web-exclusive features:
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