Engineers from Granite
gathered for posterity
in front of a huge piece of
In a clip from The Office, the Golden
Globe Awardwinning television comedy from BBC America, regional
manager David Brent, played by Ricky Gervais, tells his
subordinates that a pending merger brings with it some bad news and
some good news. The bad news is, “Some of you will los.0e your
jobs.” The good news is, “I’ve been promoted.” His staff stares at
their manager with a mixture of loathing and disbelief. “You’re
still thinking about the bad news, aren’t you?” he pouts.
One imagines no such scenes play out in the offices of the
firms that make Fortune magazine’s annual list of the 100
Best Companies to Work For. Organizations are chosen for this honor
mostly by contented employees. One great recurring theme of these
workplaces? A sensitivity to employees’ needs for recognition and
For this year’s list, 46,526 randomly selected workers from 304
companies filled out a survey called the Great Place to Work Trust
Index, created by the Great Place to Work Institute in San
Francisco. Their answers accounted for two-thirds of the scores,
and information provided by the companies made up the rest.
M&C spoke with planners at six of the corporations
that made the list to find out how they weave the organization’s
culture and philosophy into the employee events they oversee.
Fire and ice
SEI Investments might sound like a stuffy Wall Street
firm; in fact, employees work at a 90-acre campus in Oaks, Pa.
Here, the office floor plan is very fluid, with desks on wheels and
“pythons” (clusters of wiring for computers and phones) hanging
from the ceiling.
“Whole teams can move within an hour; you don’t have to call
anybody for help,” says Caryn Taylor-Lucia, CMP, director of
corporate events for the financial services company.
SEI encourages teams to get to know each other or celebrate a
job well done off-campus, so smaller events like bowling outings
are scattered among Taylor-Lucia’s bigger projects.
One funky companywide celebration is Clean-Up Day, which
includes a competition among the 15 floors for the most Dumpsters
filled. “There are different points for what you turn in, things
like paper, furniture and computer equipment,” says Taylor-Lucia. A
big scoreboard is kept in the cafeteria; employees on the winning
floor get chair massages. The events team picks the cafeteria’s
menu for the day, which is offered free to all employees.
Taylor-Lucia is most fond of planning the company’s holiday
party, an annual black-tie affair at the Pennsylvania Convention
Center in Philadelphia, because it offers great exposure for her
team. Last year’s fire-and-ice theme featured CEO Alfred West
emerging from an ice formation, along with entertainment by
aerialists and fire-eaters. Four years ago, at the turn of the
millennium, many of the tech employees were scheduled to be stuck
in the office on New Year’s Eve, on a Y2K vigil. That year the
holiday party, themed as a New Year’s event a few weeks in advance,
held a countdown at 10:30 p.m.
Taylor-Lucia has been working at SEI for eight years; it’s easy
to see why she says, “I’m never leaving.”