In the midst of an economic downturn unlike any we’ve seen in recent history, being named one of the “Best Companies to Work For” is quite an achievement. The unfortunate fact is, with so many qualified employees in the market today, many executives don’t feel that offering extra incentives is important. However, the executives for this year’s twelve “Best Companies” disagree and counter that they believe incentives are more important than ever to recruit and retain the best and brightest. They contend that retention is still valuable to every company and the employees they have are their company’s most valuable asset.
Nevada Business Magazine’s annual search for the best of the best began several months ago when employees from across the state sent in nominations that touted their company’s qualities. After extensive time, research and deliberation, the editorial staff selected this year’s honorees.
Each of the following companies have created a work environment that’s conducive to both recruitment and retention and are among Nevada’s best companies to work for.
Advanced Information Systems
Formed nearly 25 years ago by brothers Frank and Mike Yoder, Advanced Information Systems is a technology company that offers custom software development, network and consulting services, among other things. The company provides for its employees a company paid health plan as well as a 401k plan among its standard benefits. The company also gives its employees some not-so-standard benefits including flexible work schedules, employee stock options and company paid trips to the bowling alley, concerts and movies that are open to employees and their spouses.
When asked why, President Frank Yoder responds, “We live and die by our employees. We’re only as strong as our workforce. If we were to have unhappy employees, we’d have an unhappy workforce which means the quality of our services would go down and that would be detrimental to the future of our company.”
In keeping with that perspective, the Yoder’s recently purchased Apple iPads for their longest-serving employees and allows all employees to take advantage of their membership at the Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay. According to Yoder, the company hasn’t let anyone go because of the recession and they will continue to help their employees as individuals.
“During an employee’s stay with us, we do everything we can to help them further their career,” he said. “We will send people to training on our dime and help them further their skill set. We want to help the individual out.”
Advanced Management Group
The employees at Advanced Management Group, a property management firm, love their jobs and are not shy about showing it. Noreen Oslchewski, assistant property manager, said it clearly, “I love my job and I love coming in to work every day.” Adding to that, Jodie Bell from accounts payable in the firm, says, “I love working for them, definitely the best company I have ever worked for!”
That’s big praise for a company that operates within one of the most depressed industries in Nevada. Even so, the company has found a way to take advantage of a down real estate market and has doubled in size since 2008.
“Isn’t that crazy?” says Bret Holmes, president of the company. “We attribute that to great work ethic, hiring the right people and happy clients.”
The firm was founded in November of 2006 and has approximately 60 employees. In addition to standard benefits, provided at no cost, the company has the loyalty of its employees because of the management’s genuine, caring attitude towards its staff.
“I care about the employees because without them I wouldn’t have a company,” says Holmes. “It’s not all about me, it’s not all about what I can do and who I know and what I’ve accomplished. Without the right people in place, we wouldn’t be able to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”
A medical imaging company founded in 1966, Desert Radiologists has 278 employees and CEO William Moore appreciates each and every one of them. “Your employees are always your greatest asset,” he says. “The truth of the matter is, they are your window to the world. If your employees don’t put on their best face and don’t treat your customers, in our case patients, with the best in customer service and support, you’re not going to survive long. If you don’t have good employees, it’s going to cripple the business.”
Throughout the downturn, the imaging firm has maintained their benefits package that includes health, dental, vision, 401k, disability, life insurance and a generous tuition reimbursement program. Additionally, the company has instituted a program called “STARS” that provides monetary reimbursement for exceptional service and acts of kindness. It doesn’t end with STARS for the employees. The management at Desert Radiologists provides gift cards or paid time off when they witness these acts as well.
Moore is proud of the fact that the employees love the company they work for. He said, “Even some employees that have left have since reached out, when they see job openings, and we hire back many of those people.” The company has dozens of long-term employees, including some that have been with Desert Radiologists for over 20 years. Part of that loyalty could be due to the “Calendar of Fun” the company instituted that provides free meals, movie days, barbecues and other social events each month.
Life Care Center of Reno
Machelle Harris, executive director for Life Care Center of Reno, believes in treating her approximately 230 employees like extensions of her own family. “We believe that if we love and take care of our employees like we do our families, not only does it make the business more successful, but it makes everybody more successful,” Harris says. “I completely believe that, especially if you work full-time, this is half your life at work and you should love what you do. You should love coming to work.”
Life Care Center of Reno is a skilled nursing facility that provides care for both rehabilitation patients and long-term patients. The company offers all the standard benefits including healthcare, dental, vision and also offers leadership training for its employees. The center promotes from within and Harris strives to not only personally know each of her employees but to also build a rapport with them.
“I tell them from the beginning at orientation that my door is always open, if it’s closed it’s very temporary,” she said. “If you find the best, you should keep the best because that just makes you better at what you do.”
LL Bradford and Company
A full service public accounting firm, LL Bradford has strived to make the work place feel like a second home for their employees. “We’ve always worked hard to have a family-orientated environment, from day one,” said Lance Bradford, president of the company. “Our goal is to have a place where people want to come to work every day. That’s the most hours, not counting sleeping, where you spend your time.”
In order to achieve that environment, the company has instituted half-days off for parents to spend at home on their children’s birthday. The company also has quarterly activities with spouses and families, cappuccino machines in the office and has allowed the staff to design their own break rooms to include a Wii and Guitar Hero. Many of the ideas implemented at the firm are employee driven.
“I want people to believe they work with us, not for us,” said Bradford.
The company’s benefits are also driven by the employees. Annually, the firm puts together a committee that includes an employee from every level of the company to review benefits and make sure the company is meeting each employee’s needs. Additionally, the firm has bonus incentive programs. All of this makes for a company that people want to work for.
“We just had someone leave us because her husband had a job transfer; she was almost in tears having to leave,” adds Bradford. “We as owners of the company have a responsibility to the people that work for us to make sure that they continue to have success in their personal lives and can continue to take care of their families.“
A family-owned company in every sense, ManagedPAY is a payroll and professional services firm that is committed to its employees. The company offers its 34 employees a health, dental and vision plan, a 401k plan that is 100 percent vested and employee education reimbursement. Bill Rosado is president of the firm and his partner is his wife Maureen. Their goal is to ensure that their employees are taken care of and are provided with job stability.
To that end, rather than cut employee pay or lay-off employees because of the recession, Rosado rather cut his own pay to see the company through. He keeps his staff up-to-date on where the company stands and strives to let each employee know how much they are appreciated.
“The last thing I would ever want to worry about is, if I came up with a disease is how am I going to pay the bills? Anytime someone is facing a crisis, we pull them in and say, ‘Do not worry about your pay. Take off, communicate with us, we’ll figure everything out,’” Rosado said.
“This is a very difficult time for owners, with most companies letting people go,” he adds. “We care. It’s not because we want to be named as the best place to work, it’s because my wife and I are very grateful for what we have accomplished and what we have in our lives.”
McCarthy Building Companies
A 100 percent employee-owned company, McCarthy Building Companies has a history of caring for its employees. The firm was founded in 1864 and became employee-owned in 2002. With the change in ownership, came a shift in attitude.
“Everybody takes a much more pro-active approach. Our folks feel like they’re a lot more accountable for their everyday job,” said Randy Highland, president of the Nevada and Utah division.
The building company offers its employees healthcare benefits, which are added to often, as well as a retirement plan, training and up to $25,000 in tuition reimbursements. Additionally, the company has begun a new wellness program to promote the overall health of each employee.
“We want to encourage our employees to be fit, have less stress in their lives, better nutrition and better time management. We are trying to create a culture of healthy folks,” said Highland.
The company has been lucky in that, since the downturn and unlike many other construction companies, they haven’t had to let very many people go. “Our strategy is to keep our best and brightest so that when the market does turn around, we’re in the best position possible to take full advantage of the recovery,” Highland said.
“It’s important for us to create an environment that, even in the downturn, our people like to work at McCarthy, they feel like they’re challenged, they feel like they are learning and they feel like the company has their best interest at heart. This way, when times do turn around, our folks don’t want to go anywhere else. There’s not a better place for them to work,” he added.
McDonald Carano Wilson, LLP
John Frankovich, managing partner for McDonald Carano Wilson, one of Nevada’s oldest law firms, sums up the company’s attitude towards its employees best. “I think it goes back to Bob McDonald, who started this firm more than 60 years ago. He always insisted that staff be treated as well as possible. He truly loved the staff and they loved him. He instilled those values in us,” Frankovich said.
The firm offers education assistance, fully-funded healthcare and a generous profit-sharing program for its employees. Each of the 100 employees are encouraged to collaborate and help each other. The firm hasn’t had to lay anyone off because of the recession and has made it a goal to keep the quality employees they already have.
Everyone at the company cares for each other and rallies around employees with emergencies or other crisis’.
“I have worked for McDonald Carano Wilson for 28 years,” said Ginny Brownell, a legal secretary at the firm. “During that time, they have shared in the good times, supported us in the bad times and always made every employee feel valuable and valued.”
“Many companies say they are like a family, but McDonald Carano Wilson lives that way,” adds Holly Mitchell, another legal secretary with the firm.
Pahor Mechanical Contractors, Inc.
Steve Wilson, president of Pahor Mechanical Contractors, Inc., appreciates that each of his employees have made an investment in the employee-owned company and he, in-turn, invests in each of them.
“I spend more time with these people than I do with my own family,” Wilson said. “The relationship that I have with these people is very deep. I respect them and I really have an interest in their success. They are what our business is built on.”
The employees at Pahor receive a full health plan with dental, vision and a 401k. They’re also encouraged to give back to the community. The firm has adopted Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation as a charity and holds raffles at their quarterly barbecues to benefit the organization.
“I’ve encouraged our employees. If they have a worthy charity or service project they would like to do, we’ll give them the day off on a monthly basis,” said Wilson. “I’ve got them here anyway and they’re not as busy as they used to be, so why not give back to the community?”
Since the slowdown, the company, which is in one of the hardest hit industries in Nevada, hasn’t had to reduce benefits and is holding steady.
“It was two, maybe three years ago, when we were at the peak of construction,” said Wilson. “A lot of these same people could have gone for a different or higher paying job. But they didn’t. There is a loyalty with the company that goes both ways. That’s why we’re holding on to them, because of their loyalty.”
It’s not enough for REMSA to have a program that is copied all over the country, the non-profit emergency medical service for Washoe County also has employees that are dedicated and love where they work. The company has over 360 employees and, according to Patrick Smith, president and CEO, has a very simple philosophy.
“What I’ve told everybody is, ‘Your job is to go out and take the best care of the community and the patients you can. Our job is then to take care of you and your families. Let’s all work together to make that happen,’” Smith said
“It’s very simple; we take care of each other,” he added. “It’s not rocket science.”
The company offers its employees a wide range of benefits that includes everything from health, dental and vision to a gym membership and a staff psychologist. With the downturn, many non-profits are seeing tightening budgets and REMSA is no exception. Even so, the company and Smith are committed to their employees and to serving Northern Nevada.
“We will get through these hard times,” said Smith. “At the end of the day, my promise is no one will be laid off. We’ll work together to make sure we take care of the community and, regardless, our people will have jobs, incomes and benefits for their families.”
University of Phoenix
It’s no surprise that people love working for the University of Phoenix. The school offers a wide-range of benefits including medical, dental, vision, staff discounts and adoption assistance. The campus in Southern Nevada has adopted the corporate policy of taking care of its employees a step further.
“We built off of what the organization has afforded for our staff,” said Charlie Nguyen, territory vice president. “We converted all of the offices at our campus into staff enrichment rooms.”
These “staff enrichment rooms” have everything from a Wii Fit, to areas employees can utilize to learn a new language, read a book or even take a nap. The school has incorporated its “Take Five Initiative” where at any point during the day, for any reason whatsoever, employees can take a break from their work. In addition to the office conversion and the “Take Five Initiative”, all of the directors at the school have moved and they now sit in cubicles next to their employees to promote an environment of transparency and open communication among the staff.
“We’ve found that with all of the directors on the floor, we increase communication among ourselves and the staff without increasing meetings,” said Nguyen.
The company has also made fresh fruits available for its employees and encourages each of them to volunteer. They are, in fact, give two paid days in which to do so.
“When you take care of your staff, then the staff will take care of the students and then some,” said Nguyen. “Our number one asset is our people.”
Wells Fargo Bank
Kirk Clausen, regional president for Wells Fargo Bank , oversees 1,800 of the banks 4,000 employees. He has strived to create an organization where employees feel valued and are respected for the work they do.
“Our people are our competitive advantage. We recognize those team members and we reward them for doing the right thing,” Clausen said.
The bank offers several benefits, everything from adoption assistance, 401k, health plans, paid time off, discounts in financing and tuition reimbursement. Additionally, Clausen has worked to ensure that employees know how much they are valued. Despite the fact that many banks have closed, they haven’t had to let people go. Instead, Clausen says, they’ve moved a few people around and have actually been hiring.
“Our model, our focus on customers and our focus on team members is an extraordinary model that believes in people. I think that’s a big reason why we continue to grow in today’s economy when others are having a tough time. The last thing we ever want to do is lay-off folks,” said Clausen.
To that end, the bank has instituted a program called “Retain and Retrain”. The program is designed to take existing employees whose jobs, for whatever reason, are no longer necessary and retrain them into other positions.