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Best Place to Work list, how we ranked number 1

Best Place to Work

We don’t need no stinkin’ climbing walls or ice cream trucks to make the Best Place to Work list.

Best Place to Work

Today’s post is a couple of bragging moments.  I am not usually one for bragging, but the news is too good to not share with my HRNasty family. And yes, there are some career tips involved. 

This past week, the company I work with not only made the list of Best Place to Work in our state, we won first place in our category. This is the first time we entered this particular competition and as an HR guy, I am really proud to be a part of the crew I have the fortune to work with. The best part of it is I have been approached a LOT lately by peers extending their congrats.  When they say “Congrats on making the list”, I respond with “We didn’t just make the list, we are number 1 Bitches”.  Everyone should get their day in the sun.    

For those not familiar with these awards, step 1 is a survey where a company representative answers questions about the company culture, leadership, benefits, etc. Based on these answers, if your company makes the first cut then step 2 is where the entire company is anonymously surveyed.  Make this cut and then the  CEO is surveyed individually. The results of this list aren’t just based on what leadership thinks; this survey wants to know what employees think about the company as a workplace.

What is more impressive to me is that we are a small company with few resources. We are a small startup with the “Wear many hats and show Angela Lee Duckworth grit” attitude. We have Ikea furniture and the whiteboards are second-hand. We do not have massages, climbing walls, or ice cream trucks like so many of the companies in our local area. For me, this recognition is meaningful because we do not have the “stuff” that many companies offer. For me, this award is recognizing the heart of the team I work with. This award recognizes the backs we watch when the challenges are frequent and large. I believe we were recognized as the Best Place to Work with this award on camaraderie created through transparency.

I have worked with companies in the past and have made these types of lists 8 other times in the last 11 years.  The companies I have been a part of have even made the number 1 and number 2 slot, but we had “stuff” at those companies.  We had catered lunches, we had pool tables, and yes, we did have massages.  At one company we had a regulation volleyball court on the roof.  We oozed “stuff”.

This year is special because we didn’t make the list on, “stuff”. I believe we got there on our strengths, which include the leadership transparency and our desire to help others in the company. An example of transparency, every employee’s calendar is available to everyone including the execs. We review and share the financials so everyone knows where we are. We over communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly at our weekly all-company meetings.

As the HR guy, I personally try to make a conscious effort to explain business decisions. Not just once, but three different times, three different ways. At the end of the day even if an individual employee does not agree with a company decision on a personal basis, they will hopefully be able to understand and respect the decision on a professional basis.

We didn’t create the Best Place to Work because of “stuff”. We strive to create a team with a common vision that supports each other.

Today, I received a document from a colleague Kaity Rihanna, which I believe captured the spirit of our company and the attitude of our co-workers. Kaity will be leaving us to go back to school and was nice enough to put together a list of hints for the person we hire that will take her place. She actually put together 4 docs, one for each of her main responsibilities so that the person taking her place will have the opportunity to be just as successful as her. I am only listing one of the docs below as I think it captures the spirit to the success of any employee in any company.

I didn’t ask for these documents and I didn’t provide coaching in their creation.  The below is a v.1 and I couldn’t be more proud. I think she absolutely captures the spirit of what we are looking for from the team and more importantly WHY we look for these qualities. The doc is positioned in the same way we take ourselves, both serious and light. The doc is short and to the point and I think applicable to ANY career, which is why I am sharing it with you.  

As a side note, two years ago, I had lunch with Kaity and another colleague I respect and admire.  Our author passes on advice she heard at that lunch via point number 11 below. I blogged about that lunch and the advice we heard and titled the post “Career advice to make you bulletproof in a weak economy”.  That post is linked here and proves that young people do listen. I believe the below document captures the attitude of why we have a company worthy of being called the Best Place to Work. Follow her here because great things will be left in her wake.

Below are the tips for a successful career at a company that placed number one in the Best Place to Work list. 



Working at Acme Publishing is fun. It can also be hard because every job is different so you don’t really know what you’re doing.  Here are a couple of tips to make your time here as smooth as possible.

1. When writing emails, get to the point. Nothing will annoy people here more if they have to read a long email all for just one question. Also, never make a typo. That shows the person you are weak (use spell check, it’s free.)

2. Get to know the posters hanging up on the walls. They literally tell you what the company wants from you.

3. Take things seriously but, don’t be uptight.

4. Don’t ever take offense to things that your boss fixes. If he or she asks you to do it differently, don’t get upset. Be tough around here and know how to take criticism. Trust me, you will receive some over the course of your career.

5. Get things done fast. I can’t stress this enough. There is a saying that we have that says “Fail Fast” which means if you mess up, learn from it, fix it, and do it right the next time. The main theme here is “Go Fast”.

6. If you really want to get to know the tech world, read some books we have in the office. My favorite being “Do More Faster” by Brad Feld“.  (This book goes along with tip #5.) Also, read employee blogs. Whether it be about Acme Publishing or about the author’s professional discipline, it will give you insight into what is happening around here.

7. Always be on time. Our CEO likes to be late a lot, but he’s earned it. Unless you’re higher up than the CEO never be late (this goes for your personal life too.)

8. Acme Publishing is a community. When we accomplish something, we celebrate. Go to these celebrations. Go to the after-work happy hours, the BBQ’s, or the in-office 15-minute celebrations and add to the culture.  Don’t be a stick in the mud.

9. Get a notebook/something to write on. It looks better than just taking notes on your phone during a meeting. Always take notes (it makes you look more professional and then you won’t forget anything.) If you forget your notebook and all you have is your phone make sure you let the person know it’s notes on your phone and not just you texting (unless it’s more than a one-person meeting cause then it’s just awkward.)

10. Never mess up on travel arrangements, that’s bottom line.  (See document number 2 for details)

11. Don’t refuse the small jobs. You are new, so take whatever little jobs you can take. Remember that you are very important to the company. If you’re replacing me, that means your entire job is to help the people around you. Make some decisions for yourself and make sure you’re not a burden. It might not seem like it, but you are the glue that keeps everyone here sane.

Good Luck Newbie,


And there you have it.  Best Place to Work and part of the reason I think we made the number one spot on the list in our category. I am gonna celebrate now by visiting my buddy that works across the street.  He always hooks me up with a free ice cream bar from their ice cream truck IN THEIR CAFETERIA!

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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