MARCH 2009: FROM THE EDITORThe 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project turns 16 this year. Looking back over the past issues of the magazine, one thing is constant: change. Over the years, companies that have made the list have thrived and dived. Dozens that were on the list even in recent years have been acquired, merged, sold or closed.
This year’s volatility is more than the past 15 rolled all together. Last March when we named the 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, the economy was trembling, but still standing. But a year later, Wall Street has imploded, stalwart industries have collapsed and many businesses are faltering. Layoffs are a common daily story and Oregon’s economy is hurting.
| Robin Doussard, Editor
Even some companies on this year’s 100 Best list find themselves caught in the turmoil. Qualcomm has announced that it will have to shut its Oregon office; Wachovia was acquired by Wells Fargo late last year; and Rose City Mortgage Specialists, the No. 1 Small Company, had to move back to the CEO’s home. These are just a few examples; many more companies on the list are trimming and tucking. These are hard things but they don’t negate the great environment that got these companies on the list in the first place.
Despite it all, there still is much to celebrate. A record 372 companies entered the survey this year. And let’s face it: Even when the survey went out in late summer, cracks in the economy were already widening. But the companies that entered wanted to not only compete for a 100 Best honor, they also wanted credible, useful information about what their employees think and how they can improve their workplace. Even in down times — especially in down times — being a great place to work gives you a competitive edge. It retains the best people, motivates excellence and makes employees want to give their all to their company. That’s good for employees, and good for the company.
A bad economy shouldn’t keep workplaces from being great. We believe so deeply in promoting best practices and those companies that embrace them that we will launch two new 100 Best projects this year. In June, we’ll reveal the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon, based on sustainability questions that were asked in the 100 Best Companies survey last year. That ranking is based on employer practices and what employees think about their company’s performance in sustainable practices. And in October, we will unveil the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon. Watch our website Oregon100Best.com for details in the coming weeks.
The 2009 100 Best Companies work every day at being great places to work by putting a premium on treating employees with respect, openness and trust. They look at their budgets and find ways to fund the best benefits they can. And in many ways this year, just keeping the doors open and keeping people working makes them heroes.