MANAGEMENT REVIEW I Learn the art of appreciation

 The ‘Best Companies to Work For’ have a few qualities in common: they make their workers feel appreciated, offer good pay and benefits and help employees achieve a healthy work-life balance, says Margarita Bauza

When Mike Wingeier and his wife, Stacie Wingeier, had a baby boy recently, he took advantage of an unusual employee perk — paternity leave. “I was happy to be able to use that instead of having to use my vacation,” said Wingeier of Bay City Mich., a lab , team leader for Dow Corning.

The Midland, Mich.-based maker of silicone products has been good to the Wingeiers. In addition to the two-week leave for Mike, Dow has helped the couple subsidise two international adoptions. Stacie also was recently allowed to reduce her hours to part-time at Dow Corning, an accommodation that helps manage their home life.

At a time when it has become more common for businesses to cut both staff and benefits, companies like Dow Corning are finding ways to make their employees feel good about showing up for work. Such morale-boosting efforts landed Dow Corning on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Companies that made the list have these qualities in common: they make their workers feel appreciated, they offer good pay and benefits and they help employees achieve a healthy worklife balance. Businesses are chosen based on results of a 57-question survey of thousands of employees from 446 companies.

Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on the survey. It asks about attitudes towards management, job satisfaction and camaraderie.

The remaining third of the score comes from the evaluation of each company’s response to a culture audit, which includes questions about demographics, pay and benefits.

Dow Corning spokesman Jerrod Erpelding said that this was the first time the company asked to be surveyed.

“We wanted to see how we measured up,” said Erpelding, who says his company was chosen based on its competitive salaries, bonus structure, dental plans, flex time, maternity and adoption leave options and paternity leave for new dads. The company also offers an on-site fitness centre, subsidised gym memberships and tuition reimbursement.

But good perks and pay do not just benefit the employees. There is a lot for companies to gain, too, experts say .

“I think, right now, the main reason why work- life programmes are so important is that it is a differentiating factor in employment,” said Ellen Ernst Kossek, a work-life expert at Michigan State University’s School of Labour Industrial Relations.

“This is one factor that gives you a competitive edge. High performers have the ability to go to different places. This is the way to retain talent.”

Julie Boudro, a systems engineer at the Southfield-based accounting firm Plante and Moran, says that she gives her company high marks for culture, mentoring and work-life programmes. It is the company’s ninth consecutive year on the list.

Boudro began her career at Plante and Moran in an entrylevel position nine years ago and quickly moved up. “That is probably one of the biggest reasons that I love being here,” said Boudro, 30, of Warren. “I have had the opportunity to grow up here and advance my career.”

Quicken/Rock banker Keri Stichler, 30, of Commerce Township said that she liked working at Quicken/Rock because she felt appreciated. This is the fourth time the company has made it to the list. “Your hard work is definitely recognised,” Stichler said. “There are also fun perks like New Year parties.”

Why is it good to work there? This is what human resources people at the three companies are saying:

Quicken Loans/Rock Financial (ranked 17th): It offers a performancebased pay and annual bonus plan, spot bonuses, tuition assistance and leadership training. Benefits include discounted home loans, interest-free computer loans, Internet and gym reimbursement and a scholarship programme for team members’ children. Employees have opportunities to win trips.

The company’s annual holiday party features headline entertainment, such as a performance by rock star Kid Rock. The most common salaried job title: mortgage banker, which pays US$82,000 a year. The most common hourly job: client care specialist, which pays US$53,797.

Plante and Moran (32nd): The Southfield-based company was recognised for offering a jerkfree environment where the staff is encouraged to live by the golden rule. It offers child-friendly benefits such as a free Saturday day care, high chairs in the cafeteria, family rooms for breastfeeding mothers and work-site child-care centres.

The most common salaried job title: auditor, which pays US$65,000 a year. The most common hourly job title: secretary, which pays US$34,825.

Dow Corning (55th): The company is recognised for profit sharing, pension and retirement plans. It offers flexi-time, compressed work weeks, paternity and adoption leaves, on-site fitness centres and fitness subsidies, and tuition reimbursement.

The most common salaried and hourly job title: supply chain, which pays US$102,093 a year salary and US$52,802 ¦ hourly . Courtesy: McClatchy-Tribune (MCT) Information Services
When Mike Wingeier and his wife, Stacie Wingeier, had a baby boy recently, he took advantage of an unusual employee perk — paternity leave. “I was happy to be able to use that instead of hav- ing to use my vacation,” said Wingeier of Bay City Mich., a lab , team leader for Dow Corning. The Midland, Mich.-based maker of silicone products has been good to the Wingeiers. In addition to the two-week leave for Mike, Dow has helped the couple subsidise two interna- tional adoptions. Stacie also was recently allowed to reduce her hours to part-time at Dow Corn- ing, an accommodation that helps manage their home life. At a time when it has become more common for businesses to cut both staff and benefits, companies like Dow Corning are finding ways to make their employees feel good about showing up for work. Such morale-boosting efforts landed Dow Corning on Fortune maga- zine’s list of the 100 Best Com- panies to Work For. Companies that made the list have these qualities in common: they make their workers feel ap- preciated, they offer good pay and benefits and they help em- ployees achieve a healthy work- life balance. Businesses are cho- sen based on results of a 57-ques- tion survey of thousands of em- ployees from 446 companies. Two-thirds of a company’s score is based on the survey. It asks about attitudes towards management, job satisfaction and camaraderie. The remaining third of the score comes from the evaluation of each company’s response to a culture audit, which includes questions about demographics, pay and benefits. Dow Corning spokesman Jer- rod Erpelding said that this was the first time the company asked to be surveyed. “We wanted to see how we measured up,” said Erpelding, who says his company was cho- sen based on its competitive salaries, bonus structure, dental plans, flex time, maternity and adoption leave options and pa- ternity leave for new dads. The company also offers an on-site fitness centre, subsidised gym memberships and tuition reim- bursement. But good perks and pay do not just benefit the employees. There is a lot for companies to gain, too, experts say . “I think, right now, the main reason why work- life pro- grammes are so important is that it is a differentiating factor in employment,” said Ellen Ernst Kossek, a work-life ex- pert at Michigan State Univer- sity’s School of Labour Indus- trial Relations. “This is one factor that gives you a competitive edge. High performers have the ability to go to different places. This is the way to retain talent.” Julie Boudro, a systems engi- neer at the Southfield-based ac- counting firm Plante and Moran, says that she gives her company high marks for culture, mentor- ing and work-life programmes. It is the company’s ninth consecu- tive year on the list. Boudro began her career at Plante and Moran in an entry- level position nine years ago and quickly moved up. “That is prob- ably one of the biggest reasons that I love being here,” said Boudro, 30, of Warren. “I have had the opportunity to grow up here and advance my career.” Quicken/Rock banker Keri Stichler, 30, of Commerce Town- ship said that she liked working at Quicken/Rock because she felt appreciated. This is the fourth time the company has made it to the list. “Your hard work is definitely recognised,” Stichler said. “There are also fun perks like New Year parties.” Why is it good to work there? This is what human resources people at the three companies are saying: Quicken Loans/Rock Financial (ranked 17th): It offers a performance- based pay and annual bonus plan, spot bonuses, tuition assis- tance and leadership training. Benefits include discounted home loans, interest-free com- puter loans, Internet and gym re- imbursement and a scholarship programme for team members’ children. Employees have oppor- tunities to win trips. The company’s annual holi- day party features headline en- tertainment, such as a perform- ance by rock star Kid Rock. The most common salaried job title: mortgage banker, which pays US$82,000 a year. The most com- mon hourly job: client care spe- cialist, which pays US$53,797. Plante and Moran (32nd): The Southfield-based company was recognised for offering a jerk- free environment where the staff is encouraged to live by the gold- en rule. It offers child-friendly benefits such as a free Saturday day care, high chairs in the cafe- teria, family rooms for breast- feeding mothers and work-site child-care centres. The most common salaried job title: auditor, which pays US$65,000 a year. The most com- mon hourly job title: secretary, which pays US$34,825. Dow Corning (55th): The company is recognised for profit sharing, pension and retirement plans. It offers flexi-time, compressed work weeks, paternity and adop- tion leaves, on-site fitness cen- tres and fitness subsidies, and tuition reimbursement. The most common salaried and hourly job title: supply chain, which pays US$102,093 a year salary and US$52,802