1 CRG Events

2200 Alaskan Way, Ste 300, Seattle
206-441-6448; crgevents.com
Total Local Employees 49

CRG Events Meeting notes.

What They Do
These corporate event planners work 12- to 14-hour days, several days in a row, to pull off a Microsoft conference for 15,000—but they won’t skimp on an intimate dinner for 25. Each event receives the same attention to detail, from soup to nuts, or from pupu platters to fire twirlers for those long-ago WaMu employee trips to Hawaii. Yes, some clients have trimmed their event-planning budgets, but lately, business has come roaring back. “During the recession, we had some events cancel,” said event director Meghan Finley. “But it has done a 180. It’s very busy right now.”

Which means CRG can get back to hiring, and they start by promoting from within. “We hire about 60 to 70 percent of our interns,” Finley said, placing them in openings within the event management, marketing, and on-site registration teams. The executive team is entirely female, which means—hello—that communication and morale are top priorities. There’s a Morale Committee that lays out details of upcoming potlucks using PowerPoint. And weekly Monday staff meetings won’t end until the group can name five things it’s grateful for, personal or professional. Happy the UW Huskies made it to the NCAA playoffs? That your colleague just had a baby? That Meghan stayed late to help you finish on Friday? They all get shoutouts. “We have a pretty thankless job at times, so it’s nice to hear those things about your coworkers,” Finley said. But the talk isn’t all pretty. “We give feedback to each other all the time. Good or bad, we’re going to say it, and we need to be open to receiving it.… I think it’s an important part of our culture. We all trust each other and feel a bond.”

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 26.
Morale Committee schedules twice-monthly events: potlucks, spontaneous pizza lunches, snowboarding trips. Employee of the Month award, tenure awards. Bonus. Three-week sabbatical for every four years with the company. Staffers sit on stability balls at their desks.

What the Boss Wants “Someone who’s flexible, energetic, collaborative, productive, detail-oriented, has good energy, adapts to any situation, and is confident.” —Meghan Finley, Event Director

Reasons to Love This Job “We all love working here, and it gets busy, so we try to remember why we love working together, whether that’s going to get a manicure or playing Rock Band or a friendly food competition.” —Ellisa Burke, Marketing Communications Manager 

CRG Events Relay-race trophy from an office picnic.

Hiring? Yes, crgevents.com/crg/content/careers.aspx

Communication Channels Impromptu problem solving—an open forum for employee questions or ideas at weekly staff meetings. Required feedback loops.

Benefits 401(k); employer pays 100% medical, 75–99% dental, 75–99% vision; employer contributes $1,000 each year to health savings accounts for employees with high-deductible health plans; paternity leave; lactation facilities

More Time Off Employees can donate time off to fellow employees and earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

1 Explore Consulting

10900 NE Eighth St, Ste 200, Bellevue
425-462-0100; exploreconsulting.com
Total Local Employees 33 

What They Do
Since 2001, Explore has come up with creative IT solutions for clients like the Seattle Storm, Amazon, Microsoft, and Nordstrom. In the last year, the team of web developers and data analysts has added 11 new positions and brought NFL scouting reports “to the cloud.”

Explore Consulting 
Target practice with Nerf guns 
(previous page) relieves stress.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 20. Exercise facility and showers on site. Seahawks tickets in the Explore suite. Tuition reimbursement. Prizes and trophies presented annually: two Rising Star Awards, two Peer Awards, and the Consultant of the Year Award. Profit sharing. Bonus.

Reasons to Love This Job “The Nerf gun shooting range, for midday stress-relieving target practice.”

Hiring? Yes, exploreconsulting.com/join.htm

Communication Channels The CEO and COO lead monthly company status meetings over a catered lunch. The CEO has an open-door policy.

Benefits 401(k); employer pays 75–99% medical, 50–74% dental, 75–99% vision; lactation facilities

More Time Off Earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available


3Groundspeak

501 N 34th St, Ste 300, Seattle
206-302-7721; groundspeak.com
Total Local Employees 53

Groundspeak 
The entryway doubles as a geocache location.

What They Do
Staffers at Seattle tech company Groundspeak start their days with a game of hide-and-seek—though you won’t find the CEO crouching under a desk or the vice president in a broom closet. Groundspeak monitors a global geocaching community engaged in round-the-clock, modern-day treasure hunts. With a GPS unit or smartphone in hand, geocachers track down canisters hidden by other players—in an old shoe, behind a loose brick in a wall, underwater (and accessible by submarine)—based on the coordinates listed on Groundspeak’s -geocaching.com site. The prize doesn’t really matter as much as the hunt, and the company’s “Lackeys”—a young, industrious bunch of developers, web designers, product managers, and operations folk—keep the game running smoothly.

Not that it’s all work and no play for the so-called Lackeys. Their Fremont office comes equipped with an Xbox, and a fridge stocked with sandwiches from Homegrown fuels picnic lunches along the Burke-Gilman trail. They play kickball and poker on Friday nights, take off the occasional Wednesday to use their free lift tickets at Stevens Pass, and go group geocaching…well, whenever. But how do they slip past the bosses? “The founders are the ones who initiate it,” says Reini Chipman, head of HR. “Our finance manager beat our CEO in poker last week.”

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 24. Free ski and snowboarding trips and lift tickets. Bagel Fridays. Catered meals. Monthly challenge to promote wellness and teamwork. Bonus. Stock options.

What the Boss Wants “One of the things we look for in a stunning coworker is selflessness and service. In interviews, it’s a real treat to see someone passionate about what they’ve accomplished in the past. But for us, it’s even more of a treat to see them passionate about what their former company has done to serve its customers.” —Bryan Roth, Vice President and Cofounder

Reasons to Love This Job “I’ve only been here for a year, but it’s really like coming home. A bunch of us worked together before…and when things picked up at Groundspeak, the gang all got back together. It’s so great because there’s so much trust built and we’re able to get so much done. Ultimately, it gets back to leadership.” —Reini Chipman, Director of Human Resources

Hiring? Yes, groundspeak.com/about.aspx#jobs

Communication Channels “We use yammer.com to share things that aren’t necessarily work critical: industry information, customer testimonials. It’s where we rally people to do fun things like wear an ugly sweater on Friday.”

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

Updated May 1, 2011. This corrects the original version published on April 22; the average annual compensation for Explore Consulting has been removed, the company does not offer adoption assistance, and the company covers 75–99% of medical and vision premiums, not 50–74%.

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4ZAAZ

414 Olive Way, Ste 500, Seattle
206-341-9885; zaaz.com
Total Local Employees 135

 

ZAAZ Open bar with Jagermeister dispenser.

What They Do
Though most of our Best Companies pledge to “work hard, play hard,” few do so as successfully as digital marketing agency Zaaz. To start: They have a Jagermeister machine in their downtown Seattle office. “We have an area on our main floor, Z Bar, that’s the hub of the agency,” said marketing manager Lindsay Campau. “A lot of people eat lunch there, or if you need to chill with a client, you can grab a drink there. There’s a lot of happy hours.” And Flip Cup tournaments. And company karaoke parties. Excuse us, but when does the “work” happen?

Just ask Campau. When she was pregnant—in her third trimester—she was leading the company through a total rebrand and marketing audit, working at “a maddening pace.” Zaaz has to keep up with its clients around the world, providing data analysis and web redesign for Sony, Nokia, Microsoft, and Ford (just to name a few). But when the going gets tough, Zaaz lets the tough go home. Campau has finished her three-month maternity leave, but she can still work from home twice a week to help her husband (now on paternity leave) with their newborn. Plus, everyone gets a standard—issue iPad—a new one. See, “Zaaz” stands for “something new”—it seems they’ve redefined “work.”

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 37. Three-week sabbatical after five years on staff, six-weeks after 10 years. Free All-Star Fitness memberships. Biweekly in-office masseuse. Telecommuting. Employee shoutouts posted to Zaaz’s intranet. Bonus. Annually, two keepers of the ZAAZ “Spirit Stick” are nominated by staff to plan social events like outings to art museums. Stock options.

What the Boss Wants “We have a core set of values: passion, trust, kindness, balance, innovation, courage, responsibility, perspective, collaboration, integrity. We do not value burnout, politics, greed, or cynicism. Be authentic. Check your ego at the door.” —Lindsay Campau, Marketing Manager, Former Creative Services Manager

Reasons to Love This Job “The in-office Xbox Kinect and Wii. We’re not positive, but a high percentage of employee exercise might now be due to Xbox Kinect’s Dance Central alone.” —Elena Moffet, Marketing coordinator

Hiring? Yes, zaaz.com/#/are_you_hiring

Communication Channels The CEO, president, and COO host lunches for groups of five to 10 new hires, allowing employees to connect with the founders on a personal level.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; employer contributes $250 annually into health reimbursement accounts for employees on a Base Health Plan; paternity leave; lactation facilities

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available


5GLY Construction

200 112th Ave NE, Ste 300, Bellevue
425-451-8877; gly.com
Total Local Employees 243

What They Do
“These last couple years have been tough for construction,” GLY marketing specialist Pamela Leptich admits. And even though revenue was down last year, GLY’s project numbers remain steady, thanks in part to one big job—construction of Amazon’s new headquarters (phases IV and V) in South Lake Union—and GLY’s 44-year track record as a reliable, community-oriented contractor. How many companies win state civics awards for their volunteer work during a recession?

But that’s just par for the course for GLY. Washington’s fifth-largest general contracting firm offers a personal touch, with 10 principals who are actively involved in the day-to-day operations and a full-time staff of nearly 250 who often refer to colleagues as “family.” “Even in a down economy GLY is striving to educate and train the next generation of leaders for the company,” said general foreman Jasper Smith. “And GLY as a whole feels more like a family-based business where other construction companies just use and abuse their employees.” Plus, we hear staffers are a social bunch with good work-life balance: They go fly-fishing, run marathons. And then there’s the office rock band. Not Rock Band. We’re talking living, breathing musicians: The marketing manager is lead singer, two vice-presidents are on guitar, and field supervisors play bass and drums. They call themselves the -uGLYs—brand conscious to the end—and are available for client parties and happy hours.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 27. On-site exercise facility, group exercise classes. Tuition reimbursement. Annual and quarterly awards (e.g., Innovator of the Year, Mentor of the Year, Excellence in Safety, Team Player, Most Improved). Pizza parties. Barbecues. Bonus.

What the Boss Wants “Creative thinking and planning are a priority. We value the ability to find efficient yet innovative ways to engineer projects that exceed our clients’ expectations.”

Reasons to Love This Job “Our new office with workout facilities and showers. I have doubled my workouts per week.” —Josh Goudge, Project Engineer

Hiring? Yes, gly.com/careers.asp

Communication Channels Quarterly shareholder luncheons feature an informal Q&A open to all employees. Each executive mentors up to five new employees annually.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental; paternity leave; lactation facilities

More Time Off Earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $82,113

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) $68,000

6SEOmoz

119 Pine St, Ste 400, Seattle
206-632-3171; seomoz.org
Total Local Employees 32

What They Do
SEOmoz (pronounced ess-ee-OH-mahz) develops search engine optimization software to help clients grow brands, and hosts a community of over a quarter—million members who share SEO experiences and best practices.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 31. Paid Internet access, office equipment, and furniture for employees’ homes. Tuition reimbursement. Bonus. Stock options.

What the Boss Wants “SEOmoz wants people who believe in our mission and our cultural values—the TAGFEE [Transparent and Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathetic, and Exceptional] Code…. We’re unique in seeking out team members who work well together, and we often turn down very talented, desirable applicants when they don’t reflect our unique values or are simply seeking a paycheck.” —Rand Fishkin, CEO and Cofounder

Reasons to Love This Job Catered lunch and treats in the office a few times each week. SEOmoz is also home to Roger MozBot, the world’s most helpful and cuddly robot.

Hiring? Yes, www.seomoz.org/about/jobs

Communication Channels “Every team (engineering, product, marketing, and operations) has weekly one-on-ones between managers and team members. In addition, nearly every employee gets together personally at least quarterly with the CEO. …Quarterly all-hands meetings give updates about the company strategy, financials, and roadmap to everyone on the team, and weekly status emails provide additional insight into key business metrics and accomplishments. At any time, any employee can know as much about SEOmoz’s progress and status as a board member at a public company—often more.” —Rand Fishkin, CEO and Cofounder

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; stock options

More Time Off “We sometimes offer volunteer opportunities during the workday. For example, we volunteer at Northwest Harvest each winter. If you participate, it doesn’t count towards your personal days. So it’s like getting an extra personal day.” —Jamie Steven, Vice President of Marketing

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

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7 World Famous

911 E Pike St, Ste 325, Seattle
206-328-3881; worldfamousinc.com
Total Local Employees 15

What They Do
World Famous “is a small (but powerful!) boutique media production agency” that conceives, shoots, and animates clever video promotions for big-name brands like Seattle Sounders FC, Quiznos, Nordstrom, and Nike.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 35. Tuition reimbursement. Profit sharing. Subsidized child care. “It’s not unusual for the work to stop in the middle of a project for some fun, a round of Call of Duty 2, or a run up the street for cupcakes. And lunch is on the house every day. Yes, every day someone runs out to pick up lunch for the staff and everyone sits together and eats family style.”

Reasons to Love This Job “World Famous supports its employees’ projects outside of work, whether it’s band practice or wanting to leave early for a day hike. It creates a work setting that feels like a club hangout.”

Hiring? Yes, worldfamousinc.com/contact-information

Communication Channels All employees have to complete a fun “Assignment” (worldfamousinc.com/category/world-famous-assignments/) a month. “The result is that the designers are shooting and editing and the producers are animating, all stretching a little beyond their norm and comfort zone.” It fosters a sense of play that uncovers unknown strengths and generates unplanned interactions among staff.

Benefits Employer pays 100% medical; paternity leave; adoption assistance; lactation facilities

More Time Off Employees can donate time off to fellow employees and earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $64,500

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Applicable

8 Remote Medical International

4259 23rd Ave W, Ste 200, Seattle
206-686-4878; remotemedical.com
Total Local Employees 30

What They Do
An email from CEO Andrew Cull went out to all available medics around the globe: There’s an emergency on a vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. We need someone there—now. “And a guy who works for us, Sandy Fraser, just called up and said, ‘I’m packed up, boss, tell me where to go,’ ” Cull said. “He’d gotten home two or three days before—from Africa—and just jumped on a plane to Mexico for three weeks, sorted out all the paperwork for the accident investigation, and came home for two days before flying back to Africa.”

That drop-everything act of selflessness earned Fraser a Garcia Award, a pat on the back to RMI employees who get the job done without complaint or question. And it’s a big job: RMI specializes in medical and rescue services in remote areas, providing support to clients who might, say, be sailing around the world or climbing the Himalayas. There’s a full-time staff of 24 working out of Seattle’s headquarters, but RMI has rock climbers, mountaineers, flight paramedics, Iraq war veterans, firefighters, and backcountry skiers on call beyond Washington.

Part of the fun (yes, fun) of working for RMI is being a part of its team of world travelers and adventure seekers, a close-knit group that will climb Mount Rainier together in its off hours—or hold Ping-Pong tournaments. The company is a hybrid of a high-performance team and a family. “We have a really fun crew to hang out with,” Cull said, starting to laugh. “Even if they don’t invite the CEO to sushi.”

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 30. Daily 30-minute exercise break. MS Bike Team, hikes, climbing trips, snowcat/skiing expeditions. Tuition reimbursement. Each employee of the month gets a $200 gift. RMI covers 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. “Oh, and we have six dogs that rule the office.”

What the Boss Wants “We look for team players dedicated to lifelong learning, who value the mission of the company above the preservation of their own ego. …And comfortably travel to virtually any country in the world with very little notice. You could be in the middle of Jordan or Tanzania or South America, and then be in Antarctica two weeks later.” —Andrew Cull, CEO

Reasons to Love This Job “RMI is a fast-paced and inspiring workplace that has grown quickly, but we are a close-knit group and have kept the small—business, family feel. —Christine Avakian, Director of Integrated Operations

Hiring? Yes, remotemedical.com/About-Us/Employment

Communication Channels RMI uses yammer.com for communication between staff and upper management. Company intranet vaunts employee achievements. Annual all-staff meeting encourages brainstorming, communication, and community.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave; adoption assistance

More Time Off Employees can donate time off to fellow employees and earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $69,259

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) $55,486

9Greenfield Advisors

2601 Fourth Ave, Ste 650, Seattle
206-623-2935; greenfieldadvisors.com
Total Local Employees 23

What They Do
For 36 years corporations and governments have hired Greenfield’s real estate appraisers to consult on class-action suits and analyze contaminated property. Greenfield has consulted on cases related to the Exxon Valdez and BP oil spills and Hurricane Katrina.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 10. Employees—_and their families_—enjoy 100 percent paid medical, dental, and vision coverage. Extremely flexible workweek. “As long as you get your work done and are here generally at the same time as everyone else, you can set your own hours. In at 6am? Leave at 2:30pm. In at 11am? Work until 7:30.” Tuition reimbursement. Free beverages. Free staff lunch once a month. Bonus.

What the Boss Wants “We’re really looking for very creative intellects (not just high IQs, but the capacity to link their own talents to those around them); a “team work” attitude; and the capacity for significant professional growth. The best new hires approach Greenfield like a very intense graduate school, and expect to grow in their capabilities from one project to the next.” —John A. Kilpatrick, CEO

Reasons to Love This Job “We’re a great group of people, and when it gets stressful we laugh and joke even more. The work we do is fascinating and makes a difference in the world.” —Lisa Mc Sherry, Director of Administration

Hiring? Yes, greenfieldadvisors.com

Communication Channels “We offer an annual survey. Completely anonymous, it allows employees throughout the organization to weigh in on how the company is doing, from communication to teamwork to Benefits.”

More Time Off Employees can donate time off to fellow employees.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $102,000

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) $65,000

Updated April 28, 2011. This version corrects the link originally printed in the May 2011 issue for World Famous’s "Assignments."

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10Zillow

999 Third Ave, Ste 4600, Seattle
206-470-0000; zillow.com
Total Local Employees 194

What They Do
In March, Zillow inked a deal to move into a big new office, reflecting its rise from a fledgling website that pinpointed home values on aerial maps to a nationwide repository of real estate data and advice for homeowners and renters.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 24–29. Zillow pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Free Orca pass. Discount at local gym or YMCA. Free food and drinks. Table tennis. Foosball. Rock Band. Culture Committee arranges office happy hours, family events, and tickets to sporting events. Annual company skiing day trip. The Zuperstar award goes to employees who go above and beyond the normal scope of work, plus: Green Visor efficiency award, SEO Ninja marketing award.

What the Boss Wants Passionate people with ideas, voice, experience, and ambitions.

Reasons to Love This Job “The transparent, warm, honest, and fun culture fostered by our CEO and executive team…and that we close the office to take the whole company on a ski day once a year.”
Sarah Bilton, Director of Human Resources

Hiring? Yes, zillow.hrmdirect.com/employment/index.php

Communication Channels Employees submit questions to Zillow’s internal, 100 percent confidential blog and the executives post responses. Once a month over lunch, staffers discuss new products and business results, welcome new hires, and celebrate top performers.

Benefits 401(k); employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave; lactation facilities

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

11Projectline Services

562 First Ave S, Ste 400, Seattle
206-382-2025; projectlineinc.com
Total Local Employees 104

What They Do
Tech marketing company Projectline helps a diverse clientele (including local giants Microsoft and Avanade) develop “business intelligence” to refine their marketing and customer-engagement strategies.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 25. Employer pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Organic fruit and snacks. Free in-office masseuse a couple times a year. Brown bag lunches with wellness-oriented seminars (e.g., desk yoga). Interoffice kickball tournaments. In-office happy hour every other Thursday. Tuition reimbursement. Bonus. Cash for referrals.

What the Boss Wants “We hire funny, creative, supportive, and smart people who stand out on their own and work well together.”

Reasons to Love This Job “We have Fun Friday in one of our offices. Past events have included Wii competitions, dress in your favorite sports team jersey, and make up a new sport like ‘shelf ball.’ ”

Hiring? Yes, projectlineinc.com/careers

Communication Channels Weekly one-on-one meetings with direct reports. Monthly departmental meetings. Social networking via Ning, Twitter, and Facebook. “Our leadership team is very accessible. We have open floor plans and the founders share the same space with employees.”

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

12Pacific Market International

2401 Elliott Ave, Fourth Floor, Seattle
206-441-1400; pmi-worldwide.com
Total Local Employees 76

What They Do
Chances are you’ve used a PMI product at least once in your life. They design, manufacture, and market utilitarian water bottles, dishes, and glassware for 100-year-old brands Stanley and Aladdin.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 31. PMI pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Quarterly “Energizer” activities: ski and spa day, spring golf outings. Monthlong Health and Fitness Challenge. Gym discount. Tuition reimbursement. “Bell ringing” to recognize achievements at monthly all-staff meetings. Three annual awards: President’s Award, Entrepreneur of the Year, and Best Team. Bonus. Profit sharing.

What the Boss Wants “We are always looking for employees who are energized, qualified, and share our corporate values.”

Reasons to Love This Job “We’re encouraged to enjoy life outside of PMI. There are no set work hours so we have flexibility to determine our own priorities.”

Hiring? Yes, pmi-worldwide.com/careers/default.aspx

Communication Channels Quarterly open forums held by the CEO allow staff to raise concerns and open them up for discussion.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave

More Time Off Earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

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13Expedia

333 108th Ave NE, Bellevue
425-679-7200; expedia.com
Total Local Employees 2,200

What They Do
Everyone wants to know: If you work for online travel company Expedia (sing along: “dot coooommm”) do you get to hit the road as part of the job? The good news: Expedia offers 15 days of vacation plus 10 paid holidays to its Bellevue employees. The better news: The company gives everyone—new hires included—a $250 travel reimbursement for any booking on Expedia-affiliated sites, including hotels.com and hotwire.com. After three years, employees get $500. After seven years, it’s $750. And if they ever want to transfer, the London, Geneva, Paris, and Rome offices beckon.

But who wants to leave? Not this team, raving about the “great work space in a green-certified building” and its surrounding one-third–acre, Wi-Fi–ready lawn (perfect for summer meetings); and how the “company does a good job of making work fun” with Mardi Gras fetes, a Live at Lunch concert series, and the annual Halloween party complete with pirate-ship sets that “rival Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland,” said Mark Schmitt, senior manager of employee engagement and communications.

If you have a complaint, you can take it up directly with CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who hosts regular lunches with a dozen staffers or less, quarterly “town hall” meetings, and personally answers questions dropped in the “Ask Dara” mailbox. “Some people are curious about where the business is going, new markets, and some pose challenges—like, what do you think about that?” said Schmitt. “They can be pretty hard-hitting questions, and Dara typically doesn’t flinch.”

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 27. Subsidized fitness. Pet insurance plan (employee paid). Wellness and prayer rooms. Taste of Bellevue food event. Tuition reimbursement. Summer picnic, Halloween party, volunteer activities. Celebrating the Journey tenure awards. Annual matching-gift program (100 percent) for employees donating up to $5,000 to nonprofits. Bonus.

What the Boss Wants “I always ask [candidates] to describe their team. You can tell a lot by the way a manager talks about their team. The ones that are passionate about their people, who put effort into genuinely getting to know them and help them develop as leaders, are the ones I want at our company.” —Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO

Reasons to Love This Job “CEO and CFO do a fantastic job of explaining company strategy at quarterly meetings and answer honestly when asked tough questions.”

Hiring? Yes, expediajobs.com

Communication Channels Quarterly town halls with the CEO and Business Leader Sessions are recorded live and made available on the company intranet. Employees can “Ask Dara” questions or log concerns via email and get personalized responses from the CEO himself.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 75–99% medical, 75–99% dental, 75–99% vision; paternity leave; adoption assistance; lactation facilities

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $101,122

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) $43,657

14Edelman

2301 Fifth Ave, Ste 500, Seattle
206-268-2200; edelman.com
Total Local Employees 100

What They Do
Edelman started out promoting home hair perm kits in New York in 1952. Now it’s an international public relations firm with more than 3,500 employees in 54 offices around the world, in places as diverse as China, Abu Dhabi, India, and Australia, delivering edgy campaigns to Fortune 500 companies.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 42. Employees earn up to $3,000 for referring new employees, and earn extra time off for volunteer work. Happy Hours. Pop-up parties. Tuition reimbursement.

What the Boss Wants “At Edelman, we look for creativity, big thinking, a strategic mind set, and people who truly understand the complex and evolving communications landscape of today’s world. Of course the basics are important too: strong writing and storytelling skills, media, business, and community relationships, a roll-up-your-sleeves work ethic and intellectual curiosity all combine to make someone a good partner to our clients. Because we offer the power and reach of a truly global firm with the attention and service of a boutique agency, a client-centric mentality is also key, and something that newbies and veterans alike demonstrate to set Edelman apart.” —Jason Hunke, General Manager

Reasons to Love This Job “We have the resources of a global firm and an entrepreneurial spirit. We offer many career options, as well as a work-hard, play-hard culture, and maintain long-term relationships with clients.”

Hiring? Yes, edelman.com/careers

Communication Channels Supervisors and above receive 360-degree performance reviews.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 75–99% medical, 75–99% dental, 75–99% vision; paternity leave; adoption assistance; lactation facilities

More Time Off Earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

15Institute for Systems Biology

401 Terry Ave N, Seattle
206-732-1200; systemsbiology.org
Total Local Employees 300

What They Do
Cofounded by Leroy Hood in 2000, the nonprofit ISB uses new technologies for biomedical research to predict and prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and AIDS. ISB’s approach allows scientists to analyze all elements in a biological system rather than one gene or protein at a time.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 37. ISB pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Bike loaner program. Social events like monthly barbecues. Weekly discussion groups, guest speakers, lecture series. The institute was recently recognized for publishing research papers that had the highest scientific impact in the United States and the third highest in the world.

What the Boss Wants “We are always looking for innovative scientists and effective administrative staff to join our team.” —Leroy Hood, President

Reasons to Love This Job “Our scientists are pursuing groundbreaking science with world-class resources and equipment.”

Hiring? Yes, systemsbiology.hrmdirect.com/employment/openings.php

Communication Channels “We have developed a culture of inquiry and interaction…and an administrative structure that is designed to encourage our researchers to collaborate across the boundaries of their individual disciplines to ‘think outside the box.’” —Leroy Hood, President

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave; lactation facilities

More Time Off Employees can donate time off to fellow employees.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $71,507

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) $21,814

16 Airbiquity

1011 Western Ave, Ste 600, Seattle
206-219-2700; airbiquity.com
Total Local Employees 85

What They Do
With offices in Seattle and London, Airbiquity designs and operates the wireless connected-vehicle technology used by companies like BMW, Nissan, Ford, and OnStar. The company helps support more than 15 million cars on the road.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 22. Airbiquity pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Gym discount. Foosball. “Well-stocked” kitchen with free snacks. Bonus.

Reasons to Love This Job “Managers are empowered to grant ‘spot’ cash bonuses to immediately reward excellent performance.”

Hiring? Yes, airbiquity.com/careers.php

Communication Channels “We create an open-door environment where employees are encouraged to participate, give feedback, and be involved in the development of the company as a whole.” Quarterly breakfasts and frequent happy hours where employees can gather, eat, and hear updates from executives.

Benefits 401(k); employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

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17Pop

1326 Fifth Ave, Ste 800, Seattle
206-728-7997; pop.us
Total Local Employees 139

What They Do
Digital agency Pop has done it all: redesigned websites for the Metropolitan and Seattle operas, served as lead consultant for Google Analytics, and built Nintendo a fantasy league for Pokemon. The company crafts experiences for the web, mobile devices, and emerging digital platforms—and makes it easy to talk to the boss: Employees use the “Ask Bill” tool on the company intranet to submit questions to founder and president Bill Predmore.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 26. Pop pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Gym discount. Monthly happy hour. Fun Team plans Ping-Pong tournaments and ice cream socials. Game room with Ping-Pong, foosball, and vintage arcade games. Tuition reimbursement. Peer-based Pop Star award program, Pop Legend award, tenure awards. In March, the company holds an annual all-day PopSquatch event in honor of Pop’s history and its people. Bonus for referrals.

What the Boss Wants “We look for smart, scrappy individuals with strong skills and a passion for all things digital, including websites, social, mobile, and emerging platforms. Previous experience at a digital agency is often preferred/required.” —Katie Kramer, Marketing Coordinator

Reasons to Love This Job “Pop employees all have a scrappy, creative, ‘let’s figure it out’ mentality that makes it a great place to work.”

Hiring? Yes, pop.us/#/careers

Communication Channels Quarterly off-site all-staff meetings. Employees use the “Ask Bill” tool on the intranet to submit questions to founder and president Bill Predmore. New work, clients, and notable accomplishments are discussed at informal monthly breakfast meetings.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave; lactation facilities

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

18Forsberg and Umlauf

901 Fifth Ave, Ste 1400, Seattle
206-689-8500; forsberg-umlauf.com
Total Local Employees 55

What They Do
With 30 lawyers practicing in Seattle and Tacoma, 18-year-old litigation firm Forsberg and Umlauf defends clients in cases as diverse as construction site accidents, workplace discrimination, and environmental cleanup.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 28. Forsberg and Umlauf pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Team building events: firm lunches, spa days, and staff parties (casino nights and bowling). Tuition reimbursement. Tenure awards. Bonus. Profit sharing.

Reasons to Love This Job “If a paralegal and/or attorney has met the year’s goal for billable hours, that person shall be guaranteed a minimum of 6 percent of their salary as a year-end bonus.”

Hiring? Yes, forsberg-umlauf.com/careers.html

Communication Channels Attorney-associate meetings every other month. Once monthly staff meetings.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; $1,000 health savings account credit for each employee

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) Not Available

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) Not Available

19Guidant Financial Group

13122 NE 20th St, Ste 100, Bellevue
888-472-4455; guidantfinancial.com
Total Local Employees 60

What They Do
Guidant offers creative financing to entrepreneurs, helping clients to use retirement funds to buy a new or existing business without taking out a loan.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 23. Guidant pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Free gym membership. On-site treadmills. Daily 15-minute group walk (rain or shine). Jigsaw puzzles in the break room. Annual weeklong Guidant “Olympics.” Three monthly award winners (Rock Star for most sales, Wind Beneath My Wings for internal customer service, and Top Hat for external customer service) who can compete in the Let’s Make a Deal game to win cash or gifts like a Wii, Flip camera, etc.

Reasons to Love This Job “If the company meets revenue targets, three employees can win cash payouts by playing the Pay the Bills trivia game.”

Hiring? Yes, guidantfinancial.com/about/jobs/default.aspx

Communication Channels Weekly Monday-morning all-staff stand-up meetings. CEO and COO sit in an open arrangement with the general staff.

Benefits 401(k) with employer match; employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave; lactation facilities

More Time Off Employees can donate time off to fellow employees and earn extra time off for volunteer work.

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $85,000

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) $45,000

20 Metia

10220 NE Points Dr, Kirkland
425-629 5800; metia.com
Total Local Employees 55

What They Do
From offices in Kirkland, Singapore, New York, and London, Metia designs digital marketing strategies for companies such as AT&T, Microsoft, and EA Games, helping to promote their businesses through social media, web marketing, email campaigns, and more.

Perks, Praise, and Play Annual days off: 39. Metia pays 100 percent of medical, dental, and vision premiums. Free on-site gym. Staff lunches, chili cook-offs, happy hours. Wii bowling competition. Lounge with Ping-Pong table and TV/DVD player. Tuition reimbursement. Bonus. Stock options. “Exceptional performance is rewarded with additional time off, and spot bonuses or gifts at management’s discretion.”

What the Boss Wants Initiative is encouraged and awarded.

Reasons to Love This Job “Our employees enjoy a culture that embraces true work-life balance, not just the promise of it. We believe in fostering a learning environment in which we can continuously grow and develop skills and competencies.”

Hiring? Yes, metia.com/seattle/p/jobs.aspx

Communication Channels “We have a sealed suggestion box for employees to anonymously ask questions or make suggestions. It’s opened at monthly all-hands meetings and all questions and suggestions are addressed in front of all employees by the vice president.”

Benefits 401(k); employer pays 100% medical, 100% dental, 100% vision; paternity leave; flexible benefit allowance can be used toward insurance premiums, health account, or 401(k).

Average Annual Compensation (Salaried) $78,900

Average Annual Compensation (Hourly) $31,200

This article appeared in the May 2011 issue of Seattle Met Magazine.

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