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Secrets to employee satisfaction

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Articles - March 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
PHOTOS BY LEAH NASH of Oregon Cascade's leadership team
Photos of Oregon Cascade Plumbing & Heating office
Oregon Cascade’s leadership team, from left: Walt Haskins, Josh Welborn and John Welborn. Bottom: putting on a happy face.

Oregon Cascade Plumbing & Heating // No. 1 Medium Company

Family comes first at this Salem-based HVAC and plumbing contractor, which President Josh Welborn bought from his father 10 years ago. So it’s no surprise to see multiple generations of employees — fathers, sons, grandsons and a daughter — working side by side.

“It’s very important to this company that your family does come first. The reason why you have a job is to support that,” says Julie Davis, executive assistant. “So if you’ve got to take your kids to the doctor or a family outing that you need to attend, you just do it.”

Family values, the annual retreat at the corporate beach house, generous benefits and the fact that the company is 25% employee-owned are just a few of the reasons Oregon Cascade’s 85 employees are happy.

There is also a playfulness that makes work seem fun. Employees play practical jokes on each other (Welborn is fond of shock pens). Frequent officewide contests award an infamous prize to whoever has the best-decorated office or the ugliest shirt. “It’s the most disgusting, ugly Kermit the Frog statue you’ve ever seen,” Davis says. “You really don’t want it because you’ve got to put it in your office. But it’s fun.” 


Hospice & Palliative Care // No. 2 Medium Company

It’s easy for hospice care doctors and nurses to eventually feel burned out. The emotional toll the 52 employees of Hillsboro’s Hospice and Palliative Care of Washington County sometimes feel from caring for patients with prognoses of six to 12 months is not lost on CEO Christine Larch.

Rather than working five days a week, employees interacting with patients only work three days a week (and still receive full-time benefits). Workers appreciate the laid-back work environment that includes laughing, hugs and the ability to debrief with supportive and empathetic co-workers. Accommodation and flexibility surrounding family needs are also important. “Last week we had three dogs, an infant and a toddler,” Larch says. “It always seems to work out.”

“I deeply appreciate the ability to balance work and family priorities,” says one worker.

Hospice and Palliative Care is as mission-driven as it is relaxed. Care is provided to patients regardless of whether they are insured or not, even if the impact is felt financially. It is a “core belief,” one employee says, “to do what’s right, not necessarily what’s easy or least expensive.” 


Capitol Auto Group // No. 3 Medium Company

The car industry may be tanking, but not the esprit de corps at Salem’s Capitol Auto Group. Ninety percent of the car dealership’s 182 employees donated a total of $30,000 to the United Way last year.

Giving to the United Way is as much a part of working at Capitol Auto Group as selling or servicing cars. “We just believe in giving back,” says owner Scott Casebeer. “We do make it fun.” Casebeer throws a hamburger feed to celebrate the day that pledge cards are turned in. Whether it’s giving to United Way, coaching Little League, or helping the Red Cross, the culture of community involvement creates a family atmosphere that ties employees together.

Employees are also given responsibility in running the dealership by volunteering to serve on committees focused on topics such as workplace safety. Casebeer strives to “manage openly,” and doesn’t hesitate to show the managers the business’ financial statements. “We have a say in what goes on,” writes another worker. Benefits haven’t been slashed, including mental health care. “We try to provide…the best benefit package that is available,” Casebeer says. “I truly believe they care about me and my family,” writes one worker.


Bay Bank // No. 4 Medium Company

No employee at Bay Bank would think of himself or herself as just a number-crunching bank teller. Personal bankers interact directly with customers across from their desks, not through bulletproof glass. And their management listens to employees just as closely.

During a staff meeting, an employee suggested that Bay Bank allow customers to add to their certificates of deposit. “In two weeks, we had it up and running,” says Jim Rathbun, the director of marketing. “You always feel you have a voice,” says one worker.

The bank’s 15 Oregon employees in the Wilsonville and Portland branches enjoy working in a relaxed work environment among co-workers with whom they share a team spirit. But it is those open lines of communication with management that employees most appreciate. “Nothing is hidden or filtered between what is going on at the top and what is going on in the front lines,” says another worker.

Three weeks of paid vacation and an excellent benefits package, including insurance for long-term disability, mental health and alternative care, as well as the profit-sharing and stock options available to 98% of employees, is frosting on the proverbial perfect banking experience. 


Click through to the next page for secrets of the 100 Best Companies 2010!



0 #1 Wellness Alohawellnessaloha 2010-05-29 07:53:08
Thank you for the tips.Now I know what should be the do's and dont's..thank you.,Wellness aloha
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-1 #2 Duh!!!karl 2010-06-03 15:08:42
Seems like a lot of folks don't get what makes a great company to work for--seems like a no-brainer to me!
The Number one reason, Benefits.
The number two, pay...and on, and on, and on...So why are so many taxpayers up set with Government when they provide those exact things?
We all make choices in life and public service is a choice...just like say, a small business owner...IT'S A CHOICE!
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