The businesses featured on this week’s Best Places to Work lists say they commit time and resources to create a productive, enjoyable, and balanced workplace, and according to their employees, their efforts are working.
This week’s Special Report features lists totaling 100 businesses ranked as Orange County’s “best places to work.”
They earned the distinction by scoring the highest on surveys as part of proprietary research done for the Business Journal by Best Companies Group. The questionnaires aimed to capture levels of employee engagement and sentiments and employer benefits and policies.
The companies are grouped by size: 37 small companies with 15 to 49 U.S. employees; 37 medium companies that employ 50 to 249; and 26 large companies with 250 or more.
Their scores hinge largely on employees’ views about workplace conditions. Employee surveys carry 75% weight, and the employer responses 25%.
Employees were asked to indicate whether they agreed with almost 100 statements in eight categories, such as corporate culture and communications, relationship with supervisor, pay and benefits, and work environment.
Researchers compiled the percentage of respondents who answered “agree somewhat” or “agree strongly” to make category assessments and compute an overall score.
The companies that made the lists had 93% positive feedback on average.
The “work environment,” “relationship with supervisor,” and “overall employee engagement” categories tied for the highest percentage of positive responses, with 95% of all employees providing positive feedback. Employees in all size categories generally agreed with such statements as, “Most days, I look forward to going to work,” “My supervisor acknowledges when I do my work well,” and “Deadlines at this organization are realistic.”
“Corporate culture and communications” also scored high, with a 94% satisfaction rating. Ninety-eight percent of employees in the small employer category, 97% percent of those at midsize employers, and 93% at large employers agreed with the statement: “This organization treats me like a person, not a number.” An average of 94% of all employees said they have fun at work.
The pay and benefits category had the least positive responses, with 87% satisfaction reported at this year’s ranked companies and 76% satisfaction from all companies surveyed in Orange County.
Eighty-seven percent of employees at ranked companies agreed with such statements as, “My pay is fair for the work I perform,” and “Specifically, I am satisfied with the disability benefits.” Just 77%—the lowest satisfaction rating among ranked businesses in the pay and benefits category—said they were satisfied with their employer’s tuition reimbursement benefits, a fairly uncommon employee benefit.
Making good use of employees’ skills and abilities stands out at Newport Beach-based interior and architecture planning firm H. Hendy & Associates, according to the survey. The Newport Beach-based company, which employs 35, ranked No. 20 in the small-employer category.
“We take our career development very seriously. A lot of the people are organically grown [at H. Hendy & Associates],” said firm founder and Managing Principal Heidi Hendy.
“You have to stay on top of what their dreams are and treat your employees like volunteers—because once you get really talented employees, they are volunteers. They don’t have to work for you.”
H. Hendy & Associates recently moved to a new office in Newport Beach, where the design will include an installation that creatively pays tribute to the latitude and longitude of each employee’s birthplace, “further strengthening the firm’s message and practice of effective collaboration through the appreciation of individual strengths,” according to a company representative.
Managers also were asked sets of questions in various topics, including the proportion of benefits coverage employers pay, the frequency of employee performance reviews, and perquisites they said employees appreciate.
Payoff Inc., a Costa Mesa-based consumer-debt consolidator, recently celebrated hiring its 100th employee and is ranked No. 11 in the medium-sized employer category. The startup company says employees appreciate its unique benefits and efforts to ensure a balance between work and personal life.
Payoff offers unlimited vacation time from the moment of hire and has no set office hours. Allowing employees to keep a flexible and mobile work environment drives performance and satisfaction, according to Payoff Team Builder Amanda Ferris.
“Family comes first at Payoff—always,” she said. “Employees have the flexibility to work around various family situations and the opportunity to recharge their batteries. Rested employees are productive employees.”
Ferris also said collaboration is a driving force at the company and contributes to employee satisfaction.
“Our CEO wanted to build a different company, one where we bond over the work that we are doing,” Ferris said. “Employees work toward a collective mission to solve a real societal problem, and that is encouraging.”
Large employers face different challenges when trying to address individual employees’ needs, though some of those employers say the size works to their advantage.
Roger Weninger, regional managing partner at the Irvine office of national accounting agency Moss Adams LLP, said the firm’s size allows it to uniquely address employee satisfaction.
“Some other firms are so big that it’s hard to get personal,” Weninger said. “But we are at the size where we have the resources and space to make a difference.”
The national accounting agency is ranked the No. 5 best place to work in OC in the large-employer category. It has more than 2,000 employees in the U.S. and 165 in Orange County. It aims to be a force on the West Coast, where it has most of its offices.
“We make sure employees have a say in the leadership and the decisions here,” Weninger said. “Ownership shouldn’t just be a partner-only thing.”
He said it also makes sure employees feel valued and respected and that that’s perhaps the key to the office’s successful work environment.
“What it really takes is a group of people who genuinely care about each other. Our people work very hard here, and employees need to be rewarded beyond just salary.”