Image: Ryan McVay

YOU CALL THIS WORKING? Seattle companies surveyed for our cover story report that they embrace a work hard, play hard culture fueled by happy coworkers who delight in group activities and outings, corporate cheerleading, silly contests, and Ping-Pong. A lot of Ping-Pong. By my count, at least five of the 20 best companies to work for credit office Ping-Pong as a top stress reliever.

There’s also foosball tournaments and Nerf shooting wars, poker and casino nights, Wii bowling and regular bowling, pickup basketball in the on-site gym, karaoke, geocaching, Xbox Call of Duty, jigsaw puzzles in the break room. One place graciously provides a Jagermeister dispenser. (Boss, are you paying attention?)

We learned that companies plan chili cook-offs, monthly barbecues, cube-decorating competitions, and annual ski outings. Surprises are big, especially if they involve food: spontaneous pizza parties, dessert parties, happy hours, and my favorite—breakfast of bacon, eggs, fruit salad, and pancakes for the entire staff (yum). Some businesses even formalize the funmaking, with employee teams named the Morale Committee, the Culture Committee, the Fun Team, or the Keepers of the Spirit Stick.

Of course, employees don’t live on fun alone—unless the job involves monitoring high-tech treasure hunts for Groundspeak or party planning for CRG Events. What comes through in our survey of workplace excellence is a genuine passion and commitment for all forms of work whether it’s groundbreaking disease research from the Institute for Systems Biology, travel industry innovations from Expedia, or lifesaving medical relief from Remote 
Medical International, a company that has sent rescue personnel to stranded mountaineers in the Himalayas.

Most of the firms that responded to our survey are small- to medium-sized companies, and best of all, they’re hiring. As the unemployment rate inches down, these and other Seattle companies will be competing for workers. Their selling points will be close-knit company culture, generous health insurance coverage (most companies on our list pay 100 percent), plenty of time off, a commitment to family and work-life balance, and an emphasis on giving back to the community.
Good work, Seattle.

Katherine Koberg
EDITOR IN CHIEF
[email protected]

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