Can a company do well and do good? The 50 firms on PEOPLE’s first annual Companies That Care list do just that. In partnership with the research firm Great Place to Work, we surveyed workers at nearly 1,000 companies across the U.S. With charitable giving, community outreach and some very creative perks, these firms prove you can make a profit and make the world a better place.
The following is a list of 12 companies putting employees first.
The Container Store: The retail store, which specializes in office organization supplies, pays its full-time hourly workers an average of $47,000 per year, while store managers make more than $74,000. Approximately 25 percent of the employees also own stock in the company.
When a personal crisis occurs, The Container Store steps in through its Employee First Fund. The grants pay for emergencies such as a major medical situation or catastrophic event. The fund is also designed to assist with rent or mortgage payments, utilities, temporary shelter if needed, food and clothing, and medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance.
O.C. Tanner Company: Each year, employees receive a special gift from the professional-services company: an envelope containing a $100 bill for Thanksgiving and birthdays, and $300 for Christmas. And the appreciation doesn’t stop there; more than 95 percent of employees have received some sort of recognition for their hard work.
That could come in the form of the company’s yearbook, which marks a special moment in an employee’s career. A keepsake for family and friends, the book come with a special message from the CEO along with uploaded photos from the worker’s boss, team members, family and friends.
The company also devised a plan to help the manufacturing team be able to display photos or recognition items. The Stash Board is “designed to fit over the front of team members’ lockers and have space for displaying buttons, photos and messages,” the company says.
Camden Property Trust: The real estate investment trust has developed a “hugging culture” from the top down, where fun is encouraged and profits are shared.
Each year, Camden distributes an unscheduled bonus, based on annual results. At times it has been enough for an employee to buy a car. And when it’s vacation time, team members can stay in fully-furnished Camden apartments across the country – in prime vacation destinations — for $20 a night.
Along with promoting hugging, the firm also promotes laughter.
“Our ‘Wizard of Camden’ skit is one of the most humorous things I’ve ever been a part of,” one worker says. “It’s 20 minutes of pure, unadulterated joy orchestrated by the accounting team.”
Pinnacle Financial Partners: Wellness is a high priority at Pinnacle, which provides banking, investment, mortgage and insurance services. The company’s wellness coordinator writes a fitness blog, which includes everything from healthy recipes to exercise tips to stress-busting ideas. One employee who had been at-risk for obesity lowered that score after taking part in a lunchtime Zumba workshop at the office.
Another worker, through donations organized by the wellness director, was able to attend a 12-week health program that resulted in a loss of 22 pounds.
PricewaterhouseCoopers: The tax consulting firm, commonly known as PwC, is strongly committed to work/life balance. In 2016 alone, staffers took more than 543 sabbaticals approved by the company.
The sabbaticals give them a break from routines to pursue a personal or professional interest and have ranged from world travel to volunteer work to simply spending more time with their kids. Employees taking the time off still maintain their benefits and a reduced salary.
In addition, 70 percent of the staff utilize the option of telecommuting. The flexibility seems to make a difference to employees. As one put it, “I’ve never been in an organization as fast-paced and intense as PwC, where it didn’t feel stressful or overwhelming.”
Nugget Markets: “I’ve had 26 jobs since I was 17 years old, and this is the happiest job I’ve had,” says one employee about Nugget, a grocery-store chain. One reason: The company has taken the entire staff whitewater rafting, holding multiple events so that as many workers as possible can take part. On a recent trip, Nugget employees took buses to the Sierra Foothills, where a chef-prepared breakfast awaited them.
According to a survey, 96 percent of the workers say the company has created a great atmosphere.
“I love working here!” another employee says. “It’s the first job I’ve had that I truly enjoy coming to work and working with my fellow associates. Love the Nugget!”
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe: One of the 50 largest corporate law firms in the world, the firm provides 92,000 hours of pro bono representation as well.
It also takes care of its workers; when one of them is diagnosed with a critical illness such as a stroke or cancer, the company donates a lump-sum payment to the family. After a beloved partner was diagnosed with an incurable, terminal disease, the law firm provided him with full pay even when he was no longer able to work.
Another employee, battling cancer, couldn’t afford to travel from Chicago to her hometown in the Bay Area to spend her remaining days. Insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of an air ambulance, but the Orrick community rallied to cover the $25,000 cost. The employee was then able to spend her final days surrounded by loved ones.
NVIDIA: The information technology company allow new parents and parents to be up to 22 weeks of fully paid leave plus another eight weeks of flex time as they transition back to work.
That type of loyalty to employees inspires the same in its workers.
“NVIDIA prides itself in providing a work environment where you can do your life’s best work,” one of them says. “When you begin your career at NVIDIA, you can expect to have a lifetime career.”
QuikTrip: While many gas-station chains aren’t concerned with the growth and development of its employees, QuikTrip shows that it cares. Those interested in long-term careers can meet with a supervisor to create a plan for the future, while also meeting people who already have their “dream job” to learn what a day in their life looks like.
And for those looking to further their education, the company allows them to take free, on-site college courses in areas such as business, marketing or accounting. The classes can also be transferred to other universities.
Slalom Consulting: Every week, as employees log their work hours, they check a box of “yes,” “neutral” or “no” to indicate whether the work they did was meaningful or not. This “Meaningful Work Index” provides quick feedback to supervisors and highlights potential concerns within the company.
Another way the company boosts morale is with all-expenses-paid retreats. When an office reaches sustained profitability, employees get to attend the retreat with a guest and enjoy activities such as water rafting, wine tasting or karaoke.
One employee said that the retreat “has no other agenda than to relax and enjoy the great team that we’ve built.”
CHG Healthcare Services: “Putting People First” is the company’s motto, and that is evident in their approach to work/life balance.
If it makes an employee’s day less stressful and cuts down on the commute, he or she is allowed to arrange a flexible work arrangement, including telecommuting, compressed schedules and job-sharing.
CHG also puts its people first by involving them in decision-making. In fact, they had a say in where the new company’s offices would be located.
“I love that management and VPs are visible in the office,” one employee says, “and that they genuinely care about the people here.”
Activision Blizzard: The videogame developer, which is the world’s most successful interactive entertainment company, encourages workers to “embrace your inner geek.”
And to embrace one’s fellow geeks. Each team and sub-team are given yearly budgets for developing and personalizing their office space, as well as for team-building events. These have included beach days, paintball trips, whale watching and brewery tours.
And when times are tough, there is someone to turn to. Each week, the “Ship’s Counselor” meets with employees in confidence to discuss any life issues that may be weighing them down.
One staffer says that Activision Blizzard “really focuses on engagement with its employees and inclusion at all levels.”