Working here? It's the best

Good pay and benefits may be obvious hallmarks for a top workplace, but communication and employee appreciation are what put companies over the top.

Doug Claffey, the chief executive officer of WorkplaceDynamics, a Pennsylvania consultancy that helps companies create a place people want to work, said much of the good workplace discussion tends to center on salary, benefits and other perks. Surveys of employees, however, show that’s not the case.

“Those things don’t make an average company great. What makes a company a great place to work is the sense that we are all in this together,” Claffey said. “It’s about communicating and making a connection so people feel appreciated and their work is meaningful and that they have a future.”

That doesn’t mean the other perks aren’t important.

Salary and benefits need to at least be equal or greater to a company’s primary competitors, said Alan Miller, a professor of management at the Lee Business School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. But the best companies provide flexibility to employees on what benefits they can choose, Miller said. Instead of making benefits uniform, companies should offer them cafeteria style, so workers can select which benefits best suit their needs, he said.

“It starts with medical and dental, but some organizations go beyond that,” Miller said. “Maybe they provide a laundry service or manicures or exercise. One example is Google. It has those services at a minimal cost at its corporate campus. It helps motivate employees to really produce. But a lot of companies don’t want to do that because of an upfront cost, and they don’t think they will see a return on their investment.”

Employees should be rewarded for their job performance, Miller said; it helps the company achieve its goals.

“Top-performing companies tend to do those things, but with other companies, the economy plays a role,” Miller said. “They are pressed for resources and try to get by doing less. Many companies often think you ought to be grateful we are giving you a job. That may work for some employees but that alone is not the only way to motivate employees.”

Gatski Commercial Real Estate Services CEO Frank Gatski said companies are shortsighted if they don’t care about employees and make it a place they want to come to work and give their best.

“I think the most important ingredient to having a successful business in this day and age, no matter what kind of business, is your team,” Gatski said. “People are your most important commodity. Even with the economy as tough as it is and a lot of companies struggling financially to survive, there are a lot of things you can do to make your employees want to come to work. It’s important for your employees to be happy and comfortable and in an environment that promotes growth.”

Gatski said he launched a program this quarter that provides employees 5 percent of the profits to make them feel as if they have a stake in the company.

“I think the payback will be tremendous,” Gatski said. “Having people feel ownership will encourage them to give ideas on how to run more efficiently rather than have management figure it out. On the other side, it will help with the revenue stream with creating new accounts.”

Although it’s important for organizations to encourage feedback, few companies have that culture because once people become bosses, they don’t like to give up control, Miller said.

Carole Fisher, CEO of Nathan Adelson Hospice, agrees. She said it’s important to meet regularly with employees to hear what challenges they face and what tools and equipment they need to do their jobs. Communication is vital to creating a top workplace.

“What makes a great place to work is more than just a paycheck,” Fisher said. “Compensation is important, but deep down they want to feel they have contributed. They want to know their efforts and hard work have made a difference in our organization.”

For some companies, such as HealthSouth Desert Canyon, creating a family atmosphere helps create a workplace in which people want to work, said Deanna Martin, the rehabilitation center’s CEO. Simply recognizing employees and holding celebrations helps companies do a better job in their mission, which in her case is caring for patients, she said.

“Skill is important in a health care environment, but you can’t teach friendly and being accommodating to patients,” Martin said.

Claffey said it doesn’t matter whether a company is large or small when it comes to being a top workplace. Small companies have one advantage: The shorter proximity between senior leaders and employees helps with communication. It helps to be able to see decisions made locally, rather than across the country where connections are more tenuous.

“For us, the healthy organizations are the ones in which everyone is headed in the same direction,” Claffey said. “They feel connected with the organization.”

Gatski said some companies are making a mistake by taking advantage of the high unemployment. They aren’t worried about taking care of their employees and instead cut salary and benefits. It’s the perfect time to recruit the best people who otherwise wouldn’t be available in a good economy, he said.

“You need to continue to provide a great working environment and benefits so people want to join your company,” Gatski said. “We are only as good as our team. End of story. Smart employers want to make it the best place to work.”


The top workplaces survey was conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, which reached out to employers with at least 50 employees.

The company contacted more than 800 businesses and surveyed 42 that agreed to participate.

The survey results are broken down in three categories (large, midsize and small) because smaller companies tend to score higher than larger ones.

WorkplaceDynamics ranks the companies based on their employee responses. Companies with 85 or fewer employees must have a 35 percent response rate.

For those with 2,500 or fewer employees, at least 500 employees must be sampled. For those employers with more than 2,500 employees but fewer than 5,000, 20 percent must be surveyed to be included. For companies with more than 5,000 employees, at least 1,000 surveys must be distributed.

Within the survey results, 68 percent said they feel appreciated where they work and 65 percent said they are confident about their future at the company. The same amount said their jobs make them feel as if they are part of something meaningful.

Some 70 percent said their companies are headed in the right direction; 69 percent said they have confidence in the leader of their company; and 62 percent said it operates by strong values and ethics.

Some 63 percent said their company does things efficiently and well.

Fifty-nine percent said new ideas are encouraged.

Some 56 percent said the job has met expectations since they started and 41 percent said they have the flexibility to balance their work and personal life.

Only 37 percent said their pay is fair for the work they do and 27 percent said their benefits package is good compared to others in the industry.

LARGE NO. 1: Wynn Las Vegas challenges and rewards workers to do their best

Employees said No. 1 large workplace Wynn Las Vegas is a company that cares about its workers and their health. They said they are treated like they are part of a family and as if they are part of a corporate entity.

“During the worst of times and best of times, Wynn has always been by my side,” one employee said. “This is not just a company, but a family.”

“Wynn Resorts is the best company to work for,” another employee said. “As for anything in life, you always want to be the best. Working at Wynn makes you feel like you have arrived at that.”

Job security is important in this economy, and the financial performance of the company and its leadership are reassuring, employees said.

“They bring in high-quality players and customers, and that makes me feel secure about the financial stature of the company,” an employee said.

Wynn employees said it is family-friendly in that they don’t have to worry about missing out on something important in their children’s lives. Bosses allow for flexible schedules to attend appointments and school-related events.

Wynn employees said excellence is demanded of them in their performance, and it’s rewarding for them to strive for that.

“I truly believe that excellence is rewarded,” one employee said. “I never want to work anyplace else.”

“Everyone works together as a team and are encouraged to be their best,” an employee said. “Concerns are brought up and resolved, and there is no talking down to by managers. Employees feel they have a voice and any ideas are encouraged by higher-ups and, oftentimes, implemented into the departmental procedures.”

Work is never dull, but fast-paced and exciting, employees said. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun to learn something new on a constant basis and have fun at work and earn pay that allows them to do what they want in life.

“Where else in this town can you go get the best pay, free food, and just show up and do your job and go home?” one employee asked. “It’s pretty simple. You meet people from all over the world and make friends and laugh and have fun.”

Employees said they appreciate their opportunities for advancement within the company and how they are treated by managers who are open to ideas.

“They are always trying to make us better by giving us new ideas to think about and by allowing us the chance to take on new responsibilities in order for us to continue to grow within the company,” one employee said.

Employees praised Steve Wynn as a visionary and innovative person who makes them feel comfortable about the resort and its future. They said he pays attention to detail and is always improving the property.

“Our leader has created a work environment where we feel empowered to give each of our guests personalized experience with the highest level of customer service anywhere,” one employee said.

LARGE NO. 2: Capital One’s upbeat attitude takes it to a higher level for employees

Capital One has operated a credit card call center in Las Vegas for less than a year, but it’s already listed as one of the best places to work in the valley.

With more than 1,000 employees, Capital One acquired the credit card accounts of HSBC and took over operation of its former call center.

That has made it an immediate hit with employees and explains why it’s ranked No. 2 among large companies.

Employees said they like Capital One’s benefits and the opportunities that are now available to them. Even improvements to the inside and outside of the building on Town Center Drive have been noticed.

“I’m just excited about all the things Capital One has in store for us,” one employee said. “It sounds like Capital One knows how to treat their customers and employees.”

Employees talked about the feedback they are getting and how the environment is a positive one that keeps them engaged. Many are excited about their future and how appreciated they feel and how empowered they are, especially to help customers.

“I’m able to get continued feedback and grow in my position,” one employee said. “I feel like I’m contributing to the progress of the company,” another said. “My manager makes me feel supported and valuable. Her flexibility allows me to balance work and life.”

Working for a new company gives them motivation to grow, and many are excited about the prospects of a career in Capital One. Some said it is the best work environment they have ever experienced.

“This workplace is so positive, and I finally love getting up and coming to a job I appreciate,” one employee said.

The flexibility and taking time off as needed is a plus, employees said.

Capital One fosters the atmosphere of doing what’s right and provides the tools to succeed, employees said. It offers an incentive program that provides motivation and shows their appreciation for employees.

“I am impressed by the consistency of the way Capital One communicates through the organization,” one employee said. “There is information everywhere and coming from an organization that communicated when necessary, it’s nice to know there is real transparency and not just smoke and mirrors.”

Operations Director Keith Shirreffs said what makes Capital One a top place to work is its values. He said he’s worked for organizations that talked about values and doing the right thing but fell short on execution.

“The minute you walk into Capital One, you immediately feel the passion for people; our customers and our employees,” Shirreffs said. “Capital One clearly understands that what makes us a success begins with our employees, and by doing the very best for them, we succeed for our customers.”

The company regularly solicits feedback on how they’re doing and creates targeted action plans based on employee feedback, Shirreffs said.

“It’s important to us that we pay attention to what we are doing right and fix what’s going wrong. Our employees are a key to that process,” he said.

Large no. 3: St. Rose Dominican Hospitals’ workers enjoy feeling of respect

The reward of a job that helps people in an organization that takes care of its employees makes St. Rose Dominican Hospitals a top place to work in Las Vegas.

The not-for-profit health care provider ranked No. 3 in the large- company category.

Employees cite salary and benefits as big pluses in their industry. St. Rose offers medical, dental and vision insurance, which includes a health maintenance organization with no out-of-pocket expenses to employees and their families.

“I am treated with dignity and respect, and I feel valued as an employee,” one employee said. “My benefits are more than comparable to any other hospital in the valley.”

Employees can receive a forgivable loan of up to $2,500 to use toward a home purchase or refinance. Other benefits include discounted rates on day care centers, tuition reimbursement and even employee scholarships. Employees also can earn up to $1,500 for every successful referral they make to the hospital.

Employees receive recognition in areas such as clinical excellence and patient care. The Value in Action Awards given at each of the three hospitals has winners featured at an annual employee appreciation dinner. The top winner receives a trophy and financial award.

Every month, employees who excel at patient satisfaction are selected by managers for a GEM award. The winners receive a $50 certificate for an area restaurant or theater.

In its Star Performer Program, St. Rose honors employees monthly for exemplifying the hospital’s five core values — dignity, justice, collaboration, stewardship and excellence. The winners receive a limousine ride to a show.

“I’m treated with respect and feel like a valuable asset,” one employee said. “I have been given more opportunities to learn and grow within the organization.”

Employees said the hospital creates a family atmosphere.

“I feel appreciated for the hard work that I do,” one employee said. “I am compensated well and enjoy working here.”

One employee praised the hospital for giving them the opportunity to give back and volunteer within the community.

“My co-workers give their best,” one employee said. “St. Rose has a great reputation in the community and offers quality to patients and staff.”

“I feel that I’m working with a company that is making a difference in my community,” one employee said. “I work in an easy-going, productive environment with people who work well together.”

LARGE NO. 4: Caesars Entertainment hailed for pay, benefits, civic-mindedness

Turns out the largest gaming company in the world is also a great place to work.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. was named fourth top workplace among large companies. The casino operator, which has 70,000 employees worldwide and 32,600 in Las Vegas, earned high marks for its pay and benefits, which include a credit union and free meals.

Its employees have a host of health and wellness programs at their fingertips, including sports such as volleyball, softball, flag football, soccer and basketball.

Employees cite the fun atmosphere and their opportunities for advancement as reasons for wanting to work for the company. Whether it’s working in catering or slots or other departments, employees said they enjoy the tourist industry, where they encounter people who are there to have fun. That festive mood carries over to them, they said.

“I just love what I do,” one employee said. “I love to make people happy.”

“Everyone works well together to give great customer service and help each other out when needed,” another employee said.

Several employees said that what makes work enjoyable is the teams they work with and the encouragement by their bosses to make suggestions and provide ideas. It makes them feel appreciated, they said.

“I have the ability to make a difference in the lives of others and create unforgettable experiences for our hotel guests,” one employee said. “It’s the best resort and greatest management that I have ever had the pleasure of working for.”

Employees said they like that they can get out of their career with the company what they put in.

“If you bring energy and try hard, you will be rewarded with pay-for-performance results,” an employee said.

Employees said that most senior managers have an open-door policy and spend a lot of time on the floor with employees. The managers have done a great job of communicating the company’s vision to them, they said.

“What I like most is that our management team is not afraid to hunker down with the employee to get something done or explain the process,” one employee said. “They have treated me well, with respect and regard. I would do what it takes to improve myself for them. What impresses me is I know they care.”

Employees said they appreciate it when managers get to know them and are genuine with their praise or constructive criticism.

“We have a strong team and take care of each other’s needs,” an employee said.

Employees said they also like their company’s civic-mindedness.

Caesars staff has recycled more than 61,000 pounds of lightly used soap and 43,000 pounds of bottled liquids on behalf of Clean the World.

It donates tens of millions of dollars a year, including awarding a $700,000 grant to the Teacher Exchange, where teachers can obtain computers, furniture and office supplies.

MIDSIZE NO. 1: HealthSouth Desert Canyon puts family feel into work environment

For employees of HealthSouth Desert Canyon Rehabilitation Hospital, the workplace is more like an extension of their family.

That’s always been the goal of hospital administrators, who try to create that atmosphere to help its mission for the 50-bed inpatient hospital that offers rehabilitation services designed to return patients to leading independent lives. It ranked No. 1 among midsize companies as a top place to work.

“I think one of the things that makes this a great place to work is everybody is talking about the family feeling we have,” said Deanna Martin, chief executive officer. “We all take care of and respect each other. No job is too small and that’s what matters.”

Martin said hiring skilled staff is important, but it’s vital to have people who are friendly, upbeat and accommodating to patients. Creating that family-friendly and fun atmosphere helps with that, she said.

“We celebrate the small things,” she said. “Health care is hard work, and you need to stay positive and keep people motivated. That’s the only way to take care of patients.”

When someone receives a certification, it’s celebrated. No matter if it’s hospital week or some recognition or a hospital anniversary, it’s a reason to bring in food and gather together, Martin said.

The hospital even got creative on Elvis Presley’s birthday with his patented peanut butter and banana sandwiches and Elvis music.

“Fun is important because what we do is so difficult,” Martin said. “To see the positive and laugh at ourselves connects us with people better, and if we can do that we can take care of patients better.”

Employees said they enjoy the family atmosphere and how workers relate to one another. It makes the job even more rewarding, they said.

“All the staff is always there to back each other up and help whenever possible,” one employee said. “We all get along and have a great relationship with each other.”

The hospital provides employees health benefits immediately, and they start earning paid time off the first day on the job. Other benefits also go beyond what other companies offer. There is a stock purchase plan, college savings plan, discount auto and homeowner’s insurance plans, identity theft protection and pet insurance plans.

“I feel appreciated by my director and by hospital leadership,” one employee said. “I have the opportunity to grow in my field and am encouraged to do so by my director. My director stresses the importance of work-life balance.”

Another employee described working with an amazing group of individuals who understand what it means to work as a team and to have the best interest of patients at heart.

“In my working life, I never knew what it felt like to experience the feeling that my job didn’t feel like work until now,” the employee said.

MIDSIZE NO. 2: Nathan Adelson Hospice provides employees benefits, unusual perks

fficult job, but one that’s rewarding to employees of Nathan Adelson Hospice.

Ranked the No. 2 workplace among midsize companies, Nathan Adelson Hospice has provided medical, emotional and spiritual support to terminally ill patients and their families for more than three decades. Since its inception, services have been provided to more than 50,000 patients and families, including the uninsured and underinsured.

Nationally, the company has been selected as one the Top 100 Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare for two consecutive years.

The organization covers 100 percent of the medical, pharmacy and dental premiums for employee coverage. Dependent coverage, including domestic partner, is subsidized at 25 percent. A life insurance policy and long-term disability benefits are provided to employees without charge. Full-time employees accrue 18.6 days of paid-time-off benefits per year in addition to 72 hours of illness benefits.

“What makes a great place to work is more than just a paycheck,” said Carole Fisher, the company’s chief executive officer and president. “Compensation is important, but deep down they want to feel they have contributed. They want to know their efforts and hard work have made a difference in our organization.”

One employee said they have grown in the organization and continue to learn.

“I am not afraid to ask my manager anything, I also know I will receive a true response. My manager listens and acknowledges any idea, concern or frustration that I may have. I love my job, but I also love this organization for being so supportive of their work force, and providing opportunities for advancement when employees request it,” the employee said.

Employees said bosses will compliment them for a job well done by sending a card to their home. Employees called those rewarding.

“What makes me feel appreciated here is when I receive the personal thank you notes from patients and family members whose lives I have touched,” another employee said. “That is when I am in my element.”

The company, which matches 401(k) retirement plans with as much as 4 percent of the employee’s salary, has some unusual benefits. A Weight Watchers program is offered at work and the company reimburses 100 percent of the cost for employees who lose 5 percent of their body weight or maintain their weight loss.

There are exercise classes offered, including Pilates, yoga and Zumba, and even onsite car washes. Tuition is reimbursed and 100 percent of hospice certifications are covered.

Employees also volunteer in the community. They support two classes at Robert E. Taylor Elementary and Sunrise Acre Elementary with supplies, clothing and snacks. The hospice also holds an annual bereavement summer camp for children ages 6-12 who have suffered a loss of a loved one.

“This is a very rewarding job,” an employee said. “That’s why I became a nurse. It took 20 years to finally find it.”

MIDSIZE NO. 3: One Nevada Credit Union puts focus on support for employees

One measurement of whether a company is a top place to work is the longevity of its employees.

That’s the case at One Nevada Credit Union, ranked the No. 3 top workplace among midsize companies.

The member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative with more than 250 employees is one of the larger credit unions in the state.

Established in 1950, it has grown to more than 80,000 member-owners with 21 branches statewide.

“We’ve got a great group of long-term employees,” said Michael Traficanti, senior vice president of human resources. “Someone would not stay for 30 years if they didn’t enjoy working here. We support, respect and trust them, and we wouldn’t be successful unless they were happy being at their job.”

The credit union offers competitive pay and special incentive plans in which, no matter what the position, the person has the ability to earn a bonus, Traficanti said. The credit union offers three medical plans, tuition reimbursement and time off, and programs to help with day care and elder care.

“We are committed to providing positive work-life balance,” Traficanti said. “Our corporate culture is very supportive of our team. We have a lot of great people that work for us. If you have happy employees, that translates to happy customer service, and if customers see employees enjoying their work, they feel they made the right choice to keep their money at the credit union.”

One 28-year employee mentioned the support One Nevada provided, especially years ago when the employee was widowed and a single parent.

“I will forever be loyal to my company for the support and caring attitude they shared with me,” the employee said.

Workers said they like that they are able to make a difference in their customers’ lives, including some of the civic programs the company backs. One Nevada’s volunteer speakers and committee volunteers work with the Jump$tart Coalition to improve the financial literacy of Nevada’s youth.

Employees also talked about the ability to advance. Some of the employee programs offered include One Nevada’s Proactive Leadership, Success and Civility in the Workplace, and many other courses and programs that enhance employee skill sets and overall abilities.

“Every person I come in contact with within the credit union is so helpful and everyone seems to want to be here,” an employee said.

MIDSIZE NO. 4: Heinrich Auto Group knows family ownership is its best asset

Every employee, no matter his or her position, has a chance to be a hero at Heinrich Auto Group.

The company, which includes Fairway Chevrolet, Henderson Chevrolet, Fairway Buick GMC and Pahrump Valley Auto Group, ranked No. 4 among midsize companies as a top place to work.

The group has a HERO program in which employees are honored monthly and quarterly for their contributions to the company. The quarterly winners even receive a two-night vacation at Disneyland.

“H” stands for being helpful to customers and fellow employees. “E” stands for exceeding expectations. “R” stands for representing the company in the right way and “O” stands for taking ownership.

“We are part of a family, and everyone pitches in and helps,” said Peter Reele, a sales manager. “Everybody is equal, and we acknowledge everybody and nobody is better.”

Reele said having a family-owned business makes it a great place to work that goes to the heart of how the owner Greg Heinrich treats employees.

“Everybody is proud to work here,” Reele said. “We do all the right stuff. The HERO program starts with the owner and how he treats us. The atmosphere and culture is like no other place I have worked.”

Terry Hoisington, a general manager, said having a family-owned business rather than a corporate-owned company eliminates the multiple layers of management and allows it to be responsive. Employees want and need direction, and it helps to address any concerns quickly, he said.

“We value our employees,” Hoisington said. “We realize customers form relationships with our employees and in many cases do business because of that. That makes our employees a valuable asset. We don’t think of ourselves as a car dealership. We are a customer service business. When everyone thinks like that, it makes for a great work environment.”

That is echoed by employees who said in surveys they have a good time while working, that they feel appreciated and that it feels like home to them.

“I don’t dread coming to work,” one employee said. “The atmosphere is pleasant. The people are great. It is more like an extended family. The managers and owner truly care about you on a personal level and not just as an employee.”

Getting treated with respect by a company is rare these days, another employee said. Many said they have no plans to work anyplace else.

“Fairway Chevrolet is home to me,” one said. “I feel confident the owner and general manager appreciate my efforts.”

“I enjoy the work I do,” another said. “It’s still challenging, and I still learn things all the time. I work with a great bunch of people. It’s like family.”

SMALL NO. 1: Windermere Real Estate pushes family, community commitment

Family and living should be at the center of an agent’s life, not real estate.

That’s the mantra of Windermere Real Estate, ranked No. 1 workplace among small companies.

Windermere recognizes agents based on their commitment to family and community, in addition to their production, said Robyn Yates, Windermere’s broker/owner. Agents donate a portion of their commissions to the Windermere Foundation, a nonprofit organization helping the homeless and low-income families.

Every year, all Windermere offices close their doors to aid the community in a service project for the Las Vegas Valley. Past projects include the cleaning and landscaping of public parks, playgrounds, schools, emergency shelters and community buildings, Yates said.

Community Service Day past recipients include SafeNest, Jaycee Seniors Community Center, Hinman Elementary School, Whitney Elementary School, Henderson Senior Center, City of Las Vegas Neighborhood Beautification, The Great Unconformity geological site, WestCare’s Stepping Stone Wing and St. Jude’s Ranch for Children.

“I enjoy helping people fulfill their housing needs, and the financial reward is dependent on the amount of work you commit,” said one employee.

“It’s not just a workplace,” another employee said. “The people there genuinely care and it feels like family.”

“I help others with their dream,” another agent said.

In eight years, Windermere Real Estate has grown from its 14 founding agents to more than 100 agents with three branch offices in the valley. Windermere’s overarching aim has always has been to be better, not bigger, Yates said. This is apparent in its success as one of Las Vegas’ leading real estate firms in terms of overall sales volume, despite having a staff a fraction the size of its competitors. The company’s focus on sales is certainly important, but Windermere prefers that agents put clients’ interests before their sales goals, Yates said.

“I have grown my business more than I could have ever hoped for when I began working at Windermere,” said one agent. “I truly believe they care about their agents.”

To ensure their professional development, market exposure and market expertise, Windermere offers its agents individual websites professionally maintained, online forms and an online transaction filing system. Windermere enables agents to receive and send faxes through their phone or email, and a monthly publication offers agents, clients and the community the latest real estate news and market-specific expert analysis, Yates said.

Windermere Real Estate also offers education classes for pre license, post license and continuing education.

“It gives me the opportunity to have flexibility and control over my individual business direction and plan,” one agent said. “I’m part of the Windermere team, and I’m also the master of my own goals and success.”

SMALL NO. 2: Container Store focuses on needs of workers, who focus on patrons

It may be the new kid on the block when it comes to Las Vegas businesses, but The Container Store has been an immediate hit with employees.

Although it opened in May in the former Borders in Town Square, the Dallas-based chain focusing on storage and organization needs has been ranked No. 2 workplace among small companies.

The company came to Las Vegas with a national reputation for being a top place to work.

For 13 years, The Container Store has been recognized by Fortune magazine on its annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For in America. On Feb. 14, the company holds its national “We Love Our Employees Day” with T-shirts and food and gifts for employees.

Thousands of people applied to fill about 50 positions, and most are still with the company today, said Norine Rudolph, general manager.

“People love to come to work every day,” Rudolph said. “It’s like a little family. We support and help out each other, and that carries over to customers.”

The company offers three health plan options for full-time employees and two plans for part-time employees. It even offers discounts on pet insurance.

Rudolph said one company practice employees like is that schedules are made three weeks in advance, and that enables them to have a better balance between their work and personal lives.

“They have time to get a baby sitter and better plan,” Rudolph said. “The retail industry is not a Monday through Friday 8-to-5 job.”

Employees said they like the flexible schedules and the ability to make changes without any drama.

“I am part of this family and have never felt useless or unimportant,” one employee said. “They truly care about each employee as an individual and as a team.”

“I love this company,” another said. “It’s the first human company I’ve ever worked for. We are all a family.”

Rudolph said that’s part of the company culture and important because when employees are taken care of and have fun, they better take care of customers.

“It builds high morale, and they want to come to work, and they come with a smile on their face,” Rudolph said. “We pride ourselves on connections and communication with customers and our employees. We want to get to know them and build on that.”

SMALL NO. 3: Team-building part of recipe for success for Gatski Commercial

Who says commercial real estate can’t be serious business and fun?

The 52 employees of Gatski Commercial Real Estate Services, Southern Nevada’s largest privately held full-service commercial real estate firm representing 8 million square feet of commercial space, get to experience both.

Most companies don’t allow their employees to wear flip flops, but Gatski, listed third-best workplace among small companies, celebrated National Flip Flop Day by encouraging employees to take part. They even held contests for best-looking and most creative flip flops. That’s something more associated with an online venture than a company whose services include property and facility management, investment sales and building maintenance.

“I think it’s probably one of the most important ingredients to have for a successful business in this day and age,” said Gatski President and Chief Executive Officer Frank Gatski.

“No matter what kind of business, your team is the most important commodity. Even with the economy as tough as it is, and a lot of companies are struggling financially to survive, I think there are a lot of things to do to make your employees want to come to work. I think it’s extremely important for your employees to be happy and feel comfortable in an environment that promotes growth. Something I work hard on every day and think about every day is how best to take care of employees and clients.”

Gatski Commercial offers 13 paid holidays a year . That includes days off such as Good Friday and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Even vacation time is not set in stone, with employees allowed to take more than the traditional one or two weeks as long as they get their work done.

“Our industry is a 24/7 one,” Gatski said. “That’s why our point of view is to focus on the work that gets done and not how many days you worked. We trust our team to get the job done.”

When there are successes, employees are recognized and honored, Gatski said. There are weekend staycations at a local hotel, and catered lunches and breakfasts . Dinners and gifts cards are also distributed.

“I am part of an amazing team and workplace. I enjoy what I do and I feel valued,” one employee said.

Gatski Commercial has supported community organizations since the start. Employees collected more than 300 pairs of socks and underwear to help LV Dream Center fill those needs for children at elementary schools.

Twelve team members walked in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Cancer walk and even had a bake sale that raised more than $700. The landscaping team volunteers at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City.

“My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful,” one employee said.

SMALL NO. 4: Edward Jones strives to do little things that make workers happy

Edward Jones employees view themselves as an overgrown family.

That’s what helped the financial services firm rank No. 4 among small companies as a top place to work.

“It goes back to the roots of the company and the founder who was treated poorly in his previous occupation and wanted to develop a firm where the employees were taken care of,” said Wendell Whitman, general partner. “In a corporate culture, clients come first, but employees are not too far after that.”

Edward Jones is a partnership owned by nearly 15,000 limited partners and about 350 general partners. All associates are eligible to become partners and share in firm revenues, Whitman said.

“That partnership means a lot to us because we control our own destiny,” Whitman said. “We work together to achieve that. Some 24 percent of the profits every year go into profit sharing and employees are vested immediately.”

During the recession, associates banded together to cut costs and saved every job. Not one associate has been laid off and the firm continues to hire financial advisers and branch office administrators. Partnership is part of the culture, Whitman said.

The company offers such benefits as free wellness care; discounts if you quit smoking or lower blood pressure and cholesterol; adoption assistance of up to $5,000 per child; and $5,000 in annual tuition reimbursement. Employees have autonomy over schedules, which includes telecommuting and shortened work weeks.

“There are a lot of little things that add up for employees,” Whitman said. “We do a lot of social interaction and the families are involved. We celebrate successes together.”

Volunteerism is another part of the company culture, with associates getting a paid day a year to volunteer in the community.

Employees praised that practice along with their ability to balance their jobs with their personal lives.

“I have the freedom to run my business, and also take time for my family, health and recreation,” one employee said.

“I have the flexibility to have my own hours and my own business,” another employee said. “The back office support is wonderful, and I get to help people achieve their financial goals every day.”

Another said they are given the opportunity to make a difference in the company. They are asked their opinions and allowed to present ideas and make suggestions for improvements.

Whitman said the practices of Edward Jones are what others should follow.

“If I were trying to create a better company somewhere, the first thing I would follow is the Golden Rule,” Whitman said. “We aren’t perfect but we try hard to do what is right for our clients and employees. Do unto others resonates here.”