The Next Level

Vol. 7 •Issue 1 • Page 8
Editorial Angle

The Next Level

A ccording to the researchers who compiled Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For (Jan. 7, 2003 issue or, firms that made the consistently offer attractive perks such as yoga classes, on-site medical clinics and family rooms. “But the real test comes in tough times,” said Fortune writers Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz, who summarized the findings. “Priorities may change, layoffs may be unavoidable,” they added, but the best of the best “Éare still trying hard to do right by their staff.”

To select its list, the magazine surveyed a random sample of employees from 269 candidate companies to get their opinions about their workplaces. Fortune said 40,713 employees responded to its survey (created by San Francisco-based Great Place to Work Institute), and nearly half gave additional written comments. Fortune also asked each of the companies to fill out a questionnaire describing HR policies and workplace culture. In scoring the responses, the publication placed the greatest weight on the employee responses (two-thirds of the total score); the remainder reflected the magazine’s evaluation of each company’s benefits and practices.

Edward Jones, a St. Louis-based stockbroker firm with 25,278 U.S. employees, topped the listing for the second straight year. The report stated that the company spends 3.8 percent of its payroll on training, with an average of 146 hours for every employee. New brokers at the firm’s 7,781 branches receive more than four times that much training.

In addition, 25 percent of employees have partnership stakes in the company, which explains the firm’s significant profit-sharing program. The company had no layoffs last year. Said one administrative assistant, “I have never experienced working for a company that had so many satisfied employees.”

HCOs make their mark

The highest-ranking health care organization (HCO) on the list — at No. 15 — was Baptist Health Care, headquartered in Pensacola, Fla. Of Baptist’s 4,011 U.S. employees, 28 percent are minorities and 79 percent are women. The HCO creates 170 new jobs per year (a 5 percent job growth rate) and experiences 12 percent voluntary turnover annually. Baptist’s most common entry-level professional job is registered nurse, at an entry salary of $35, 446.

Fortune’s summary of Baptist noted that the HCO’s “no-secrets” policy means that housekeepers are privy to the same financial information as the CFO.

The magazine also noted that every Baptist employee received a $100 check in recognition of the HCO scoring in the top percentile for patient satisfaction.

Griffin Hospital of Derby, Conn., also made the Top 100 list, ranked No. 76. Of Griffin’s 1,129 U.S. employees, 8 percent are minorities and 78 percent are women. The hospital creates 26 new jobs per year (a 4 percent job growth rate) and experiences 12 percent voluntary turnover annually. Griffin’s most common entry-level professional job is registered nurse, at an entry salary of $43, 763.

What makes Griffin special to employees? According to the Fortune report, a lot has to do with atmosphere: Volunteers bake muffins, musicians and clowns stroll through patient units, and a pet visitation program allows dogs to roam the halls. The hospital’s sound system plays Brahms lullaby with each new birth.

Griffin’s Web site explains that each employee must attend a two-day orientation program prior to beginning work-related duties at the hospital. They learn the Griffin philosophy, as told by the CEO and vice president, and receive in-depth summaries in the areas of HR, safety, standard precautions, and legal issues. New employees are also required to attend a two-day retreat, during which they receive guidance on the philosophy of care, and participate in team-building and information-sharing exercises.

The hospital offers employees monetary incentives to reach departmental and institutional goals. Griffin pays a quarterly bonus to departments that meet monthly goals; the entire staff shares a bonus if the hospital meets enterprise-wide goals for patient satisfaction and admissions.

– Frank Irving