Innovative Ideas Found in the Best Places to Work

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Sep. 23, 2013 12:00 am  

It’s not the massage, it’s the message.

And the message, to paraphrase the first President Bush is “we care.”

The companies profiled in the inaugural Arkansas Business Best Places To Work do a number of things to cultivate a harmonious work environment by showing employees they are appreciated.

Some of the innovations are as traditional as the company picnic and some are on the cutting edge, like the YouEarnedIt employee recognition program pioneered by northwest Arkansas-based Rockfish Interactive and now in use by a number of companies throughout the United States.

But whether you provide 100,000 hours worth of employee massages like Google — No. 1 on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work for the second straight year — or you are a small, local lending institution putting on summertime Ice Cream Fridays — like Union Bank of Mena — you are a company that understands employees matter.

Work And Space

Not every company profiled in this program has the type of resources that allowed Google to also build three wellness centers and a seven-acre sports complex, but some of this year’s Arkansas honorees have made facilities a priority.

The Soderquist Center maintains a 95-acre estate complete with a mansion on Beaver Lake for business (entertaining clients) and pleasure (the annual Fellow Send Off for departing John Brown University graduate students working at the company).

Southwest Power Pool has a new, 20-acre campus in Little Rock with a modern café while Harrison Energy Partners not only renovated its headquarters and installed an on-site fitness center, it allowed employees to take home the used wood and recycle it into projects of their own.

Strapped for space but not strapped for will, the Little Rock firm of Cross, Gunter, Witherspoon & Galchus struck a deal with a nearby hotel for use of gym facilities, though the firm did install an on-site shower for those working out or biking or jogging to work.

Health And Happiness

Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield is all about the healthy lifestyle, offering cash incentives as well as an on-site fitness center, plus an employee health clinic in downtown Little Rock open to workers and their dependents.

Our honorees also know a worker free from worry is a better worker, thus Mercy Health, for example, operates an employee-funded crisis fund that employees can draw on for emergencies.

The data analytics firm SAS, No. 2 on the Fortune list, thrives in a culture of “creative anarchy.” Likewise, many of this year’s Arkansas honorees strive to create a cultural experience in which their employees can take pride of ownership.

With a tradition of community servitude dating to its founding in 1900, St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro encourages employees to perform community service and is generous with the flexible time to do so.

Saying Thanks

While encouraging health and a positive attitude, this year’s Best Places to Work honorees also know how to deliver a simple yet creative “thank you.”

A free lottery ticket comes with CaseStack’s birthday and anniversary recognition; Delta Dental offers a number of outings and paid time off (and yes, sometimes a massage therapist) and Saatchi & Saatchi X tries to do a little of everything, from battles of the bands to Halloween costume parties to unicyclists, in its “Random Acts of Joy.”

But truly, when this year’s honorees set out trying to be a Best Place to Work, there was nothing random about it at all.



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