November 1, 2009
Winning workplaces: NWjobs People's Picks honorees triumph in a tough climate
Special to NWjobs
Jobs are certainly a hot topic this year. For one thing, there aren’t as many of them. For another, some have taken on greater importance as the country’s economic climate and current health-care debate have put the spotlight on sectors such as hospitals, the insurance industry and renewable energy.
For four years running, NWjobs has invited Puget Sound employees to cast their votes and tell us about where they work in an annual competition to name the area’s employers with the happiest, healthiest and most fulfilled workforce. In the history of the People’s Picks Awards, we’ve never seen such a turnout.
From Sept. 14 through Oct. 11, employees visited NWjobs.com to vote for and comment on their employers in 28 categories, from “Best benefits” to “Most pet-friendly.” Those categories were spread across three divisions -- Industry, Small Company (fewer than 250 employees) and Large Company (250 or more employees).
Employees were allowed to vote up to once per day. The ballots have been counted and the winners are in, and this year’s top picks are a clear reflection of what gets people fired up these days.
More about the People’s Picks winners and a complete list of nominees can be found at NWjobs.com/peoplespicks.
Quite simply, the favorites were companies that have weathered the storm gracefully and with respect for their employees. Those such as Moneytree -- winner of “Favorite Seattle-area company” and “Best benefits” -- avoided layoffs through reorganization, and even managed to expand benefits to include alternative and preventative forms of medicine.
F5 Networks, a perennial tech-sector favorite, instills confidence by staying in the black. And kidney care center DaVita, a major Pierce County employer, made a lot of people happy by choosing to stay in Tacoma when feelings were still raw over the departure of Russell Investments.
It wasn’t all about the cash flow, though. Some employees, like those at the not-for-profit Center for Human Services, were just proud that they had still been able to reach out and make a difference for those in need at a time when they’re increasingly being asked to do more with less.
In some instances, it just came down to the creature comforts. One of the biggest vote-getters was Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services, which was a winner not only in the somewhat obvious “Most pet-friendly” category but also in the “Favorite Seattle-area company” in the Small Company division.
Three new categories were added to the mix this year. There was a “Favorite biotech company” and a “Favorite green-collar company” to represent two of the region’s important emerging industries, plus a “Favorite education and training company” to recognize that established sector.
Voters clicked in droves to sing the praises of companies whose industries have been under fire. The most traffic came from employees of the small, community-oriented Cascade Bank, winner of the “Favorite Snohomish County company” competition in the Small Company division. Admiration was also strong for Premera Blue Cross, the Mountlake Terrace-based insurance provider that employees proudly say has been working far ahead of the curve to keep health-care costs down for the region’s citizens.
Enthusiasm also was strong this year for a small Bellevue firm with a vibrant international flair that provides project management and training solutions both in the Seattle area and abroad. With fewer than 50 people on staff representing 12 countries, AdaQuest won in three categories, showing an appreciation for diversity and the assets our region has to offer.
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