FIRST PLACE: Walsh Construction
Founded by the brothers Tom and Bob Walsh in 1961, Walsh Construction has grown from a shoebox operation to one of the most respected building firms in the Pacific Northwest. And we mean that literally; when Tom and Bob first started the company in Portland, they kept their accounting files in a shoebox.
Walsh has come far since those early days when they worked out of the back of a '47 Chevy van. Tom brought the company north, building a variety of academic buildings at the University of Washington and eventually creating a Seattle iteration of Walsh Construction in the 1980s. The firm now specializes in everything from LEED-certified green structures to commercial buildings and multi-unit housing developments. Today, Bob Walsh works from the company's Portland office and Bill Reid is General Manager and top executive of the Washington office.
Along the way, Walsh has made a priority of treating its employees better than anyone else in the field.
In surveys completed for this issue, the company’s employees continually referenced the quality of their benefits—namely the full health insurance for employees and 97 percent coverage for spouses and dependents—and the culture of friendship, integrity and honesty that permeates the firm.
Friendships aside, Walsh offers an impressive array of health-related perks, including a smoking cessation program, a healthy eating program and a walking program. On top of that, employees also receive health club, weight loss program or personal training reimbursements.
The feel-good factor doesn’t stop there. Walsh runs an annual employee giving campaign, raising funds for a variety of nonprofits each year. The company matches employees’ total donations up to $100,000; in 2011 alone, the total amount given by Walsh and its employees was $230,000.
Employees are encouraged to volunteer their time at a charity of their choice, with many opting to participate in Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together.
SECOND PLACE: Tangerine Travel LTD
The Bothell offices of Tangerine Travel offer a glimpse into the future of brick-and-mortar travel agencies: The place looks like a spa. And it acts like one, too. Tangerine—the largest female-owned travel agency in the state—offers service par excellence, including dedicated account managers, 24-hour availability and an international rate desk with passport and visa assistance. Behind the scenes, Tangerine treats its employees even better. Workers enjoy company-sponsored daily yoga, free monthly massages and an on-site gym. That’s in addition to fully funded health care, a 401(k) match and travel benefits, of course.
THIRD PLACE: WhitePages Inc.
In 1996, Alex Algard was a Stanford University student dissatisfied with existing internet directory services. So he set out to create something better. Sixteen years later, WhitePages, a company that grew from his dorm room, is now the internet’s leading directory service. Along the way, Algard amassed a team of talented individuals, attracting them not only with the promise of growth but also with an emphasis on work/life balance. WhitePages employees enjoy generous amounts of paid time off, fully covered health insurance, wellness stipends and reimbursements for professional training. Most important to Algard, though, is WhitePages’ culture of open communication: The company holds biweekly all-staff lunches, managers hold regular one-on-ones with staff and everyone participates in regular “skip level” coffees that allow line staff to interact with executives.