When the spouse of an employee at San Antonio-headquartered NuStar Energy died in an accident, support from the company didn’t end with flowers, food deliveries and flexible work hours in the weeks that followed. The company’s leaders and employees soon raised nearly $30,000 in scholarship funds for their co-worker’s kids.
This type of family support among colleagues cropped up again and again throughout our research for Great Place To Work's recent list of the Best Workplaces in Texas. The leading employers seemed to take the recipe for a fulfilling, respectful workplace and add a dash of Texan hospitality.
The proof goes beyond employee anecdotes: 96 percent of people surveyed at winning companies described their organizations as friendly and welcoming, and a similar share say they’re proud to tell others where they work.
Creating a family feel can’t be achieved by corporate mandate--which is why the ways these best companies have achieved such a friendly work environment are so compelling. Here are three inspiring practices drawn from the 2017 Best Workplaces in Texas that illustrate how to bring a family feel to life at work:
1. Getting Creative with Recognizing Employees' Hard Work
NuStar has earned a reputation for rewarding colleagues’ hard work on a regular basis. Its standard benefits include premium-free health insurance for employees and their families, along with a generous 6 percent company match for retirement contributions. Service anniversaries are marked by jewelry, golf clubs or iPods sent with letters signed by the company’s president.
Throughout the year, NuStar hosts fun events to encourage co-workers to hang out and celebrate their contributions to the organization’s success. Says one employee, “NuStar is also a fun place to work! We celebrate all types of occasions, from Frosty Fridays (ice cream and popsicles handed out), to all-employee bonus parties and Thirsty Thursday happy hours in the summer months. The best part is the culture of taking care of employees, and in turn we take care of the company and our community."
2. Building Team Spirit, Regardless of Position Title
Perks like these don’t exist for their own sake. They make an organization stronger by building a sense of camaraderie among employees. At the Best Workplaces, nearly nine in ten people say they can count on their peers to cooperate, and the same share say they want to work for their employers for a long time.
“Everyone higher up does an amazing job making every single person here, down to the janitors, feel like we are one big team,” notes a co-worker at Veterans United Home Loans. “The company also invests so much back into its employees by not only giving us amazing incentives, pay, time off, etc., but also with regular lunches provided by the company, monthly massages for every employee, events that let us include family so they can see what we're all about, as well, and so many other things.”
Additional examples at this financial firm with a branch in Irving, Texas, include kid-friendly campouts, movie nights and photos with Santa at the annual holiday party. Veterans United also encourages employees to form groups around their shared interests or experiences, with get-togethers for recent college grads, movie buffs, women over 40 and people dealing with cancer. These events show an organization understands the impact of work on employees' home lives.
3. Colleagues Helping Colleagues
One of the most personal ways the Best Workplaces show they care is through donations to employees in need.
The Container Store maintains its Employee First Fund specifically to help in family emergencies. The company kicked in the first $100,000, with co-worker donations bringing that total to $340,000. Grants from the fund have given employees emergency cash for rent, utilities, shelter, food and medical expenses during catastrophes. These employee-owned good deeds can give teams an even better sense of purpose than traditional charity drives. They also speak to the way a tight-knit workforce can inspire loyalty and teamwork.
“In the world today, it seems like it's an ‘every-man-for-himself’ mentality. But at The Container Store, I can truly count on my co-workers and my manager to have my back,” says an employee at the Texas-headquartered retailer. “They all want to succeed together, and we're always looking for ways to help each other. It's so refreshing! I love coming to work because I don't feel like I have to fight to get ahead – I feel like I'm being propelled forward by my colleagues. And that makes me actually want to work harder because I don't want to let them down!”