October 23, 2014

What Makes a Company a Florida Trend Best Company to Work For?

They don’t necessarily pamper their employees, but they all value them highly -- and find ways to show it.

Mike Vogel | 8/1/2010

> Follow-through and autonomy

Workers also told us follow-through on company and departmental objectives was important to them. "The best places to work today are places that are excellent at execution. Execution allows you to use speed. Speed today is a huge competitive advantage," says Robert Preziosi, management professor at Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

Employees also like autonomy. Brazil-based construction company Odebrecht (No. 10, Midsized) uses a decentralized model with action programs for individual projects that lay out plans, communication and goals. Jario Flor, who functions as the U.S. chief financial officer — though the company doesn't use that title — says employees don't worry about the home office looking over their shoulders. "This makes us feel we are partners with the company, not employees. The company gives us the opportunity to act, the opportunity to decide. It's the feeling we are the owner of the project, the activity. It makes you comfortable and happy and at the same time challenged."

Bacardi's lunchroom
Bacardi provides free lunch every day for its employees. [Photo: Daniel Portnoy]

> Communication and fairness

Job security obviously is a big issue for today's workforce. Our survey results show employees want to know what's going on, and many of our Best Companies share data regularly. At Shared Technologies (No. 1, Large), a Texas-based telecom company with offices in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Clearwater, CEO Tony Parella holds a monthly conference call with employees, visited every office this year and has a "Talk to Tony" link on the company intranet.

When layoffs must come, employees want transparent "mechanisms of fairness," says consultant and Florida State University management professor Bill Anthony. They watch for how companies handle severance. Moss & Associates (No. 28, Midsized), a Fort Lauderdale construction firm building the Marlins' new Miami stadium with Hunt Construction Group, had to cut its headcount from more than 300 during the boom to 165 now. Senior Vice President Scott Moss says the company offered severance and help with COBRA costs. It routinely shares financial data so employees know where the company stands.

> Incentive pay

Moss touches another critical base common to Best Companies — incentive pay. Bonuses start at 10% of pay. Profit sharing and the 401(k) match can total another 10%. Bonus or incentive pay is offered at 91% of our Best Companies.

> Succession planning

BodyLogicMD President Patrick Savage
BodyLogicMD President Patrick Savage puts a high price on succession planning. He requires almost all employees to have a designated replacement.
[Photo: Scott Wiseman]

Formal succession planning was a major differentiator between firms that made the list and those that didn't at small and midsized companies. "Long-term thinking is good management," says T. Roger Manley, Florida Institute of Technology management professor. At BodyLogicMD (No. 24, Small), a Boca Raton firm that sells franchises to doctors, president and founder Patrick Savage requires almost all employees, including himself, to have a designated replacement. Workers train to move up or laterally. "There's nothing worse than sitting in the same job for three years and waiting for a promotion," Savage says. Succession planning assists in sales, as sales prospects can be assured the success of the enterprise doesn't hinge on any individual's presence.

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