Every year, about a third of our Top 100 companies get bumped off the list for any number of reasons.
It’s a considerable amount of turnover.
That’s why we give special recognition to those companies that have shaken off the economic ups and downs, internal stresses and yes, the pandemic, to make our list 10 times or more.
“These companies have steadily increased their connection with the workforce over these past 10 years — as much or more than any other factors that we monitor,” Doug Claffey, founder of our research partner, Energage.
“When a pandemic comes along and throws everything up in the air, having that connection means you’re going to stick around and do your best.
“If you don’t have that sense of connection, you might just go,” he said. “From a resilience perspective, they didn’t need the pandemic to kick them in the butt to connect to say, ‘We care about our employees.’ That was built into their DNA.”
The Dallas Morning News asked leaders of these 12 companies to reflect on the past year and give a little advice on how they’ve been able to keep their employees loyal.
Only one company, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, has made it to the top all 13 years since we began the competition in 2008. This accomplishment is especially noteworthy given that the fast-food business isn’t normally considered a great place to work.
But Todd Graves, “founder, chairman, co-CEO fry cook & cashier,” wanted more for his employees when he opened his first Raising Cane’s 25 years ago just outside the gates of Louisiana State University.
“Just out of college myself, I had worked so hard just to start Cane’s,” he said. “I was so appreciative of my crew who were working so hard, sharing in my dream. Two and half decades and 600 restaurants later, I couldn’t be prouder of our crew members who share that same level of commitment and dedication as my original crew.”
Raising Cane’s offers a comprehensive benefits package, flexible hours and schedules, paid holidays, vacation time and tuition reimbursement. When it comes to insurance, it offers 100% company-paid life and accidental death insurance and health insurance that includes a generous company-paid portion of the premiums.
In honor of its yellow Labrador mascot, Cane III, Raising Cane’s even offers pet insurance.
“Our employees and our organization are extremely resilient,” said American National Bank of Texas CEO Robert Hulsey. “We helped our local businesses access vital funding, ensured a safe and healthy space for our customers and employees and provided digital solutions that let our customers bank from the convenience and safety of their home or office.”
American National Bank recruits and retains a diverse talent pool, engages employees through professional development and community outreach activities and offers personal growth workshops and team-building opportunities.
Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors CEO Paul Driscoll wanted to recognize his employees every day, so the company started using a new award platform, AwardCo. “It offers millions of options to spend their points on Amazon, tickets to shows, hotels, travel and more,” he said. “Employees are given points for staying proactive about safety, in recognition of birthdays, anniversaries and many other ways to earn throughout the year as well.”
Driscoll is delighted to say goodbye to virtual happy hours and parties. “They just aren’t the same as in-person. We made the best of it, but I am glad to see those in the rearview mirror!”
The company provides three health insurance coverage options and has incentives for wellness efforts with insurance rebates. Hill & Wilkinson provides a 401(k) that matches up to 6% of the employee’s annual salary, a college savings plan, six weeks of paid maternity leave and short- and long-term disability insurance.
At Systemware Inc., “we continued to steadily grow our company with a 15% workforce growth and a record-setting year in revenue — all while launching a new sister company that is really gaining momentum,” said Frankie Basso, president and chief operating officer. “Being together in person is a big part of who we are as a company, but it’s comforting to know that productivity does not lapse even when facing the most unexpected obstacles.”
The company added a chief inspiration officer to be a professional mentor and sounding board on career advice, a coach for presentation skills and an overall motivator.
At Scott + Reid General Contractors Inc., employees stepped up and took ownership for their roles, said Brad Reid, president and co-founder. “This has been especially amazing as the newer, younger employees find their place and grow into leaders. They bring a fresh perspective to leadership beyond traditional expectations.
“Pre-COVID, I would have told you that the majority of our team was performing at their highest level. What we’ve seen is that, when pushed or required, we are willing and able to rise to the occasion. It hasn’t been easy, but with real leadership, support and dedication, there is nothing that cannot be achieved.”
“When the pandemic hit, there was tremendous fear of the illness and the loss of income,” said Huffines Auto Dealerships owner Ray Huffines. “Our team members did not panic or complain. “Layoffs were not a consideration for us because our team members are too valuable. Our loyal team members are the best, and that’s why our business is successful.”
Huffines Auto Dealerships was founded on two principles that are still the benchmark for all decisions made at the dealerships, he said. “Treat the customers the way they want to be treated and support the community.”
Improving is the product of two companies that came together in 2006, according to its entry.
Its benefit package includes a minimum of three weeks of PTO per year up to a maximum of four weeks per year. At the end of each year, employees can roll over up to 80 hours or cash out their remaining hours. In addition, each employee receives stock options that take three years to be fully vested.
Jack Henry & Associates Inc. celebrated its 45th anniversary as a company — “45 years of delivering outstanding service and industry-leading technology solutions for our clients and celebrated 35 years as a public company — by ringing the bell in September,” said CEO David Foss.
“Many groups had to make significant changes to processes and operating models to continue to deliver for our clients in a virtual environment, but they did it while also increasing customer satisfaction scores.”
Flexible work arrangements have become a big deal with employees, who, with the approval of management, can choose to telecommute or work a compressed work week.
At Merit Energy Company LLC, “we conduct our business with integrity, playing only in the center of the field and not on the edges,” said Melanie Lane, human resources vice president. “We treat our business associates with respect. We expect the same integrity and respect from those who do business with us.”
Employees are encouraged to have fun at work, be supportive of their co-workers and to work collaboratively, she said. “We don’t hire supervisors or managers from the outside. We take it personally if an employee leaves because we haven’t successfully provided them with opportunities for growth.”
Brian Erickson, Dallas managing vice president of Pariveda Solutions, said almost everything at the company changed overnight on March 11, 2020.
“Our people never missed a beat,” he said. “Over the past year, we have continued to revise and refine how we performed our responsibilities, and we have managed to do it as well if not better than we did before the pandemic.
“We have always prided ourselves on helping our customers solve their most difficult problems. It was truly amazing to see some of that energy and expertise refocused on solving how we continue to thrive in a world ravaged by a global pandemic.”
PrimeLending, A PlainsCapital Company, the Dallas-based financial services company, created a personalized seven-month program of one-on-one coaching and cross-functional peer groups led by top executives as internal mentors.
“Initial feedback is off the charts from both the leaders and participants,” said Steve Thompson, who was CEO of the year in our large company category.
In March 2020, with the sudden closures of schools and businesses due to COVID-19, PrimeLending corporate employees raised over $3,250 for the North Texas Food Bank.
Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health Resources, said: “Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put many people from racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”
So the health system identified by ZIP code the hardest-hit communities and neighborhoods, and rolled out mobile health units to take vaccines directly to them.
“We’ve also partnered with school districts, faith communities, nonprofit community organizations and employers to support vaccination drives and to register people who lack access to online registration systems,” he said.
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
American National Bank of Texas
Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors
Scott + Reid General Contractors Inc.
PrimeLending, A PlainsCapital Company
Jack Henry & Associates Inc.
Huffines Auto Dealerships
Texas Health Resources
Merit Energy Company LLC