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Best companies to work for:
America's top employers

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In this dark time of cuts and layoffs, what makes a company fit for FORTUNE's list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For? We gave companies credit for coming up with creative ways to keep employees satisfied, and for offering generous severance and compassion when they had to make cuts. These companies also rose to the occasion following the tragedy of Sept.11, and that is what being one of 100 Best is all about.

Note that many of the companies on this list are privately-held. Ticker symbols are listed for publicly-traded firms.

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Rank Name (ticker symbol, where applicable) No. of workers Summary
1 Edward Jones 27,092 Stockbroker with small-town values grabs the No.1 spot. No layoffs here, despite a difficult year, and bonuses came a week early to help brokers hurt by trading decline. Employees praise ethics: 97% say management is honest.
2 Container Store 1,987 Workers at this retailer of boxes and such remain enthusiastic about good pay (salespeople average $36,256), great benefits (100% match for 401(k) up to 4% of pay), and respect (94% of surveyed feel they make a difference).
3 SAS Institute 8,309 Superlative child-care centers for a $250 monthly fee and a huge fitness center used by nearly 80% of employees are just a couple of the perks at this software developer. A health center offers free annual mammograms and lab tests.
4 TDIndustries 1,368 Employees, called partners, own this construction company that installs heating and air conditioning in tall buildings. An above-par sick-pay plan: two weeks at full pay after one year; 12 weeks at full pay after three years.
5 Synovus Financial (SNV) 11,022 Among the top ten for four straight years, this bank and credit card processor has strong career planning: Managers meet with reports at least three times a year to discuss their development. No layoffs in 114 years.
6 Xilinx (XLNX) 2,649 CEO Wim Roelandts is a folk hero at this 18-year-old Silicon Valley maker of programmable logic chips. He doesn't believe in layoffs, which Xilinx has avoided in tough times by offering early retirement and sabbaticals.
7 Plante & Moran 1,240 Accounting firm is way ahead of Big Five in human touch--and sense of humor. Company describes itself as "relatively jerk-free." All full-time employees get at least four weeks of vacation.
8 Qualcomm (QCOM) 6,314 Telecom crashed this year, but Qualcomm laid off less than 5% of workers by creating some new positions earlier than planned. After Sept. 11 attacks, employees volunteered to help local Sikh and Arab communities.
9 Alston & Bird 1,338 A model progressive law firm. In addition to a regular bonus, employees can earn up to 3% of their salary by meeting objectives for teamwork, community service, customer service, and learning technical skills.
10 Baptist Health Care 4,068 Other hospitals imitate policies here. One rule: Top execs must stop to pick up trash. Ongoing employee-led initiatives have brought turnover among registered nurses down to 13% (from 30% in 1996).
11 Frank Russell 1,397 Pension fund advisor pays employees up to 80 hours per year to volunteer for their favorite causes. Last year's total: 30,000 volunteer hours, which helped make Russell popular in its hometown.
12 Hypertherm 604 Soft touch for a company that makes machine tools to cut metal: Profit-sharing payouts averaged 23% of base pay for the last five years; trail on a semirural 100-acre campus is used by joggers and bikers.
13 CDW Computer Centers (CDWC) 2,781 To show he fit in at fun-loving CDW, new CEO John Edwardson agreed to shave his head if the online computer retailer met third-quarter goals. He's bald now, as sales grew despite the blighted tech industry.
14 Fenwick & West 626 Whipped by declining fortunes of its high-tech clients, this Silicon Valley law firm laid off 47 people, but gave them four months of full pay. New recruits were offered an average of $62,500 to not join the firm
15 Cisco Systems (CSCO) 37,546 During layoffs not one person I spoke to had a bad word to say about Cisco. That employee helps to explain how a company can lay off 5,500 and still make this list. Cisco offered six months' severance.
16 Granite Rock 792 This construction company sends positive customer comments about employees home for families to read. Its safety record is twice as good as the industry average, and workers get 12 massages per year.
17 Beck Group 652 Performance reviews at this architecture, real estate, and construction services firm include assessing workers' community involvement. One recent project: helping expand a school for minority students.
18 East Alabama Medical Center 1,846 This hospital's employees took home bonuses in 2001 of $1,265 to $1,915. They also got a new 40,000-square-foot fitness center and day care for their children and grandchildren.
19 Goldman Sachs Group (GS) 22,585 Wall Street firm gave $10 million to relief efforts and provided counseling to its own employees after the attacks on the nearby World Trade Center; 95% say co-workers will "give extra to get the job done."
20 JM Family Enterprises (SJM) 3,227 Jim Moran, founder of the Toyota distributor, told an all-company gathering after Sept. 11, "We're a family. We've got to make sure we do whatever we can do not to lay off one single associate." And they did not.
21 International Data Group 11,113 There's a hiring freeze at this tech magazine publisher, but the kitchen is still stocked with gourmet coffee and popcorn; chair massages help the weary get through busy periods.
22 Stew Leonard's 1,729 Wine managers at this New York and Connecticut supermarket chain went to Italy and Spain last year to learn more about wines. Most managers--90%--come up through the ranks.
23 American Century 2,937 Clobbered by the decline on Wall Street, this Midwestern investment advisor avoided massive layoffs. Only 75 were let go, and they walked out with one month's pay for each year of service.
24 J.M. Smucker 2,380 Maker of jams preserves a loyal work force; 41% have worked here more than ten years. Job rotations keep folks motivated. Quirky perk: Plants in deer country shut down for the first day of hunting season.
25 Vision Service Plan 2,283 The annual profit-sharing bonus at this vision-care insurer equals about 15% of an employee's salary. There's also a holiday bonus (one week's salary), which comes with a box of See's candy.
26 MBNA (KRB) 27,907 At this credit card issuer, 95% of employees say they feel good about the company's contributions to the community. A Sept. 11 fundraising drive netted $5 million, including $1 million from 50 senior managers.
27 Adobe Systems (ADBE) 3,017 In keeping with the open culture of the big software maker, CEO Bruce Chizen held an all-employee meeting to answer questions about layoffs announced Oct. 30. Severance averaged four months' pay.
28 Microsoft (MSFT) 49,675 The huge tech company keeps team spirit high. Every department has a "morale budget," used for such things as Seattle Mariners games and whale watching in the San Juan Islands.
29 Valassis Commun. (VCI) 1,546 This printing company invites workers to give suggestions at briefing sessions. As orders fell off after Sept. 11, employees offered ways to cut costs, such as using more uncoated paper, and avoided layoffs.
30 Duncan Aviation 1,898 Full-timers at this aircraft-maintenance company get twice-yearly profit-sharing bonuses. When managers send out a quote for a project, they include pictures of the people who will be working on the job.
31 Agilent Technologies (A) 40,795 Rough year at this HP spinoff as salaries were cut 10% in effort to stave off layoffs--thousands of pink slips were handed out anyway. Remarkably, employees appreciated the openness and felt they'd been treated with respect.
32 Capital One Financial (COF) 19,868 This credit card issuer hired 4,000 people in 2001. President Nigel Morris said a "defining moment" for the company came when more than one-third of employees volunteered to field calls for a telethon for Sept. 11 relief efforts.
33 AFLAC (AFL) 5,744 With two on-site centers serving 540 children, this insurer is the largest provider of on-site child care in Georgia. Everyone can enroll in a wide range of training courses, and 85% of employees got 100 stock options in 2001.
34 W.L.Gore & Associates 6,099 The maker of Gore-Tex and other products has created a one-of-a-kind work culture. No bosses. No job titles. Salaries are determined by a ranking system run by employees. Small, decentralized plants create a family feel.
35 Deloitte & Touche 29,154 Associates of this professional-services firm have a mentor for career and personal growth. The consulting arm sets aside one day a month, called Day in the Office, to hand out accolades to employees.
36 Third Federal S&L 1,017 Born during the Depression to serve a Polish area in Cleveland, this S&L has never had a layoff. During crunch times, the company brings in volunteers from slower branches to avoid hiring (and then laying off) new employees.
37 SRA International 1,746 At this tech consultant to government agencies, employees, 96% of those surveyed, say that management trusts them to do a good job. Clients agree: 95% of work is for repeat customers.
38 VHA 1,417 Cooperative serving a network of community hospitals gives new employees 18 vacation days from the get-go, matches 401(k) contributions up to 5% of pay, and covers 95% of health insurance premium.
39 Pella 6,884 No-layoffs policy remained in effect throughout last year at this Iowa manufacturer of windows and doors. The company celebrates 50 years of profit sharing this year, and 78% of employees say they are paid fairly.
40 MITRE 4,907 Mitre's engineers and scientists do R&D work for the Pentagon, IRS, and Federal Aviation Administration. It has a great pension plan: The company matches up to 11% of salary.
41 Patagonia 812 What kind of company will pay employees' bail? The kind that gives training in nonviolent civil disobedience. This outerwear maker also offers $2,000 to subsidize purchase of a hybrid vehicle and has organic food in the cafeteria.
42 Paychex (PAYX) 7,406 Processing payrolls for small and medium-sized companies sounds dull, but Paychex's success has made 26 employees 401(k) millionaires. Another 113 have balances of more than $500,000.
43 Griffin Hospital 1,111 All employees of this acute-care hospital attend the company's retreats and are encouraged to make suggestions--90% reported being "treated as a full member here regardless of my position."
44 SEI Investments (SEIC) 1,963 Traditional holiday gala was curtailed at the financial services firm this year after Sept. 11. The black-tie affair became a black-tie-and-jeans buffet, saving $250,000, which was donated to families affected by the attacks.
45 Intuit (INTU) 6,587 The maker of Quicken provides workers with on-site dental services, yoga classes, and home-loan assistance. When a new product failed, the company threw a Failure Celebration to help the team learn from mistakes.
46 Charles Schwab (SCH) 19,477 They handled the layoffs with a great deal of compassion, empathy, and sincerity, says one employee of the discount broker. Schwab let go 3,800 but gave severance of up to eight months' pay.
47 Alcon Laboratories 11,695 This medical technology firm keeps employees happy with a casual, egalitarian culture, tons of paid time off, 50% discounts on laser eye surgery, and a generous profit-sharing plan that has made 76 millionaires to date.
48 Whole Foods Market (WFMI) 21,514 The natural and organic foods retailer opened its first market in Manhattan this year and had a two-for-one stock split--good for employees, since all are eligible for stock options. Work teams that cut costs share in the savings.
49 Intel (INTC) 89,792 Senior managers at the supplier of microprocessors received no pay increases in 2001, but the company still cut 7,000 jobs. For every 20 hours workers volunteer at local schools, Intel donates $200.
50 Sun Microsystems (SUNW) 39,020 The computer systems company held the line on layoffs until after Sept. 11, when it cut 9% of its work force. But it has held on to amenities like on-site dry cleaning and auto and bike maintenance.
51 David Weekley Homes 1,037 They party with a passion at this homebuilder. Good performance might be rewarded with a trip to the "money machine," a spinning, grab-what-you-can game. Incentive trips whisk entire divisions to places like Cancun.
52 Arbitron (ARB) 1,105 Employees at this radio-station research firm can mail holiday packages at the annual Winterfest party. Arbitron pays for shipping and employees donate the shipping equivalent to a local women's shelter.
53 Lands' End
Acquired by Sears, Roebuck & Co. in June 2002
5,131 Catalog seller of clothing makes its home in Wisconsin dairyland. Headquarters includes an 80,000-square-foot activity center with an Olympic-sized pool, backup child care, and community meeting rooms.
54 McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen 702 Women outnumber men three to two at this law firm and hold two of the eight executive committee seats. After Sept. 11, the firm canceled plans for a lavish Christmas party and formed a pro bono team to defend victims of hate crimes.
55 Continental Airlines (CAL) 40,115 Workers suffered as Sept. 11 rocked the airlines, but Continental tried to do right by them. It furloughed 4,000 people, who got severance payments, the chance to transfer, or the promise of a job when times get better.
56 Lenscrafters 16,999 Employees drove vans (with names like Seemore) into poor neighborhoods to deliver free eye exams and new glasses to 18,000 children last year; 94% say they feel good about how "we contribute to the community."
57 Pfizer (PFE) 89,936 Acquisition of Warner-Lambert led to an 8% cut in this U.S. pharmaceuticals company's work force; great severance terms helped ease the pain for some, as did a $5,000 retraining allowance.
58 Starbucks (SBUX) 59,541 The coffee chain provides medical, dental, and vision coverage to all workers, including part-timers. Stores in New York, D.C., and Pennsylvania brewed free coffee for relief workers after Sept. 11.
59 Genentech (DNA) 4,859 The 25-year-old biotech firm showers employees with unique perks: on-campus bicycles, a rental library of audio books, an on-site hair salon, free espresso, and weekly social gatherings.
60 Bright Horizons Family Solutions (BFAM) 12,303 This work-site child-care center operator has added more than 100 sites in the past two years. Employees are paid 30% more than the low industry average and enjoy benefits, such as 401(k) plans, rarely found in this field.
61 Four Seasons Hotels (FS) 25,321 Upscale hotel chain's housekeeping staff makes nearly 50% more than the industry average. Workers also get complimentary hotel stays, with 50% discount on food and beverages.
62 REI 6,195 People who like to hike, bike, and raft down rivers love working at this consumer co-op that sells outdoor gear. They get full benefits, including health insurance covering naturopathy, and annual appreciation gifts like fleece jackets.
63 Kingston Technology 1,015 Founders John Tu and David Sun can be found right on the sales floor at their desks, helping push the firm's computer-memory modules. Golfers bring their clubs to work--there's a driving range behind the main building.
64 American Cast Iron Pipe 2,313 Renowned for on-site medical clinic, this ductile-pipe maker provides care to employees, their families, and retirees. After Sept. 11, 75% of employees signed up to donate one hour's pay to relief efforts, raising $33,000.
65 Timberland (TBL) 5,248 No one takes social responsibility more seriously. On Sept. 11, 130 employees of this retailer happened to be in the Bronx refurbishing a school. Two weeks later, in Boston, Timberland built a playground in memory of the victims.
66 First Tenn. Natl. Corp. (FTN) 6,875 Regional bank declares: "Employees come first. Not customers, not shareholders." Workers get free checking accounts and financial planning. Value of stock options granted since 1995 exceeds $15,000 per employee.
67 A.G. Edwards (AGE) 17,595 Collapse of stock trading pained this investment firm, and in December it announced layoffs for the first time in its history. Good communication: CEO Robert Bagby fields employee questions during monthly internal radio network broadcast.
68 Wegmans Food Markets 29,072 When 315 jobs at this supermarket chain were phased out recently, displaced workers were offered the option of another job without any cut in pay, or leaving with severance ranging up to one year's pay.
69 Barton Protective Svcs. 12,189 This is a place where a handshake means something, says an employee, one of the 75% who say "management delivers on its promises." Since Sept. 11, this supplier of security services has added 690 jobs.
70 MFS 2,802 Early in 2001 this money manager cut salaries of senior managers and suspended contributions to the employee pension fund to avoid layoffs after a drastic drop in income. Before year-end, it restored pension fund contributions.
71 National Instruments (NATI) 2,900 Led by fun-loving founder, "Dr. T" (James Truchard), this maker of computer-based measurement systems introduced a discretionary bonus plan that allows managers to give on-the-spot cash awards of up to $2,000.
72 Acxiom (ACXM) 5,291 This database compiler angered some workers when severance payments didn't live up to expectations. But the company won praise from others by offering stock options in return for voluntary pay cuts to try to avoid layoffs.
73 Medtronic (MDT) 25,830 Medical-device company donated 80 defibrillators to replace equipment buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center. Annual holiday parties bring together patients who use Medtronic devices and the workers who make them.
74 Harley-Davidson (HDI) 7,858 An "Easy Own" program helps employees get their own hog. Executives don't have open doors--they have no doors at all. The president visits sales offices and manufacturing plants once a month.
75 Stratus 1,114 This computer systems maker offers pet insurance, monthly pizza parties, and a concierge service that makes employee dinner reservations. Also on-site mammograms and skin-cancer testing.
76 Ukrop's Super Markets 5,943 Family-owned grocery chain whose meat manager got stores to organize relief events for victims of Sept. 11. One store hosted a car wash that raised $1,539; another raised $800 by grilling hot dogs.
77 ACUITY 646 Property and casualty insurer changed its name last year from Heritage Insurance. Its rural headquarters boasts a pond stocked with perch, bass, and rainbow trout where workers and family can catch their dinner.
78 Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison 1,760 The dot-com meltdown took a toll on this Bay Area law firm, which tried to avoid layoffs by offering lawyers five months' salary as an incentive to leave. They got 84 takers, enough to ride out the year without cutting jobs.
79 Fannie Mae (FNM) 4,455 Volunteering is a hallmark of this government-sponsored mortgage funds provider. Employees get up to ten hours' paid leave monthly for charitable work, and 200 volunteers made sandwiches for relief workers at the Pentagon.
80 Guidant (GDT) 10,259 This medical-device manufacturer lures talented foreigners through its immigration sponsorship program. Workers get $7,000 in annual tuition reimbursement, and frequent stock option grants.
81 Carlson Companies 46,596 Travel, marketing and hospitality chain (Radisson hotels, T.G.I. Friday's) offers on-site child care and walking trails at its 300-acre headquarters. Its Regent Wall Street hotel gave meals to 20,000 emergency workers at the Trade Center.
82 Merck (MRK) 75,399 Women rank high in management at this drug manufacturer where perks include full tuition reimbursement, terrific health services, and on-site video rentals, oil changes, and child care serving nearly 1,000 kids in four centers.
83 Publix Super Markets 128,742 Owned largely by its employees, this Southern grocery chain hasn't had a single layoff in 71 years. Employees--85% of those surveyed--say they feel a sense of pride in the company.
84 Nordstrom (JWN) 42,133 Nordstrom's sales force is famously bent on pleasing customers, and 81% of those surveyed feel proud to say they work there. Nordstrom reacted to Sept. 11 by contributing 1% of all sales--$1.8 million--to the American Red Cross.
85 FedEx (FDX) 200,676 Most part-timers receive same benefits as full-timers, including nearly 100% premium coverage for health care. Over 60,000 employees received awards worth total of $13 million for doing work above and beyond expectations.
86 St. Luke's Episcopal 3,886 Good salaries (day nurses start at $42,636), plus teamwork. During a flood last year, one employee said, "A human chain was formed on a stairway to transport drinks, ice, and meals to floors where patients were still in beds."
87 Ernst & Young 83,184 This Big Five accounting firm was judged a "friendly place to work" by 88% of those surveyed. Employees also think management treats minorities, gays, and women fairly; a quarter of the new partner class last year was female.
88 Vanguard Group 10,886 The financial services sector saw more than 25,000 layoffs in 2001, but Vanguard has yet to see a single one. In fact, the average annual profit-sharing payout last year was more than $6,000.
89 Discovery Communications 2,018 Women outnumber men two to one here at the home of the Discovery Channel, and flexible work schedules are the norm. Employees share ideas at "Coffee With Judith," a twice-monthly klatsch with COO Judith McHale.
90 Marriott International (MAR) 139,500 After Sept. 11 this hotel chain enhanced early-retirement packages and cut manager pay, but layoffs happened anyway. Employees, 5,500 of them, contributed $3.25 million in paid leave to help out-of-work colleagues in New York.
91 American Express (AXP) 81,489 At a gathering of 5,000 employees at New York's Madison Square Garden to mourn 11 employees lost at the World Trade Center, new CEO Kenneth Chenault closed by saying, "You are my strength. And I love you."
92 Kimberly-Clark (KMB) 62,501 Maker of Kleenex and Huggies spends more than $6 million each year to celebrate employee successes. Workers with good safety records get steak-and-lobster dinners. Women's bathrooms are stocked with Kotex products.
93 Eli Lilly (LLY) 39,823 Prozac's maker celebrated its 125th birthday with its fourth stock-option grant since 1993--good for 125 shares for every employee. Its on-site child-care center, with capacity for 420 kids, is among the largest in the country.
94 Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) 1,269,585 Wal-Mart faces a sex-discrimination suit and union battles, but employees still value its homey feel: "This is a true family," says one employee, and 77% of respondents say "There is a family or team feeling here."
95 Texas Instruments (TXN) 34,857 Want to get a college degree? TI will pick up the entire tuition. It also pays 100% of health insurance premiums, and 92% of employees surveyed say they are proud to tell others they work here.
96 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (RJR) 8,216 This close-knit workplace is a throwback to another era: More than half of employees have been here 20 years or more, and 15% are related to another employee. Cigarette maker offers a topnotch medical and dental facility.
97 Procter & Gamble (PG) 106,000 After years of corporate restructuring, P&G, the company that invented corporate profit sharing, is back on our list. P&G still offers one of the strongest benefit packages in U.S. business.
98 Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) 99,863 The 116-year-old health-care company mandates fair treatment of employees. Factory workers start at $32,379; every major site has a gleaming fitness center; six centers care for 1,400 children of employees.
99 Worthington Industries (WOR) 6,826 No time clocks in these steel-processing plants. Workers get profit-sharing payouts ranging from 40% to 70% of base pay, and the company pays 100% of health insurance premiums for employees and family members.
100 Men's Wearhouse (MW) 8,370 Upper management is paid significantly less than counterparts at other retailers so that store employees can be paid more. CEO George "I guarantee it" Zimmer tries to meet all employees at least once each year.
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