More than 300 business leaders attended the fourth annual 2023 Nevada Top Workplaces awards ceremony Oct. 19 at the JW Marriott.
Fresh off a second Las Vegas Aces championship, the room was in a friendly competitive spirit and in the mood for winning awards.
Comedian/impersonator John Di Domenico was the awards presenter. He kicked off the event by dressing up as a coach and leading the audience in a chant of “I believe in Las Vegas!” High above his head, he held a large sign with the words “Believe” printed on it.
Keynote speaker Qiava Martinez, senior vice president, chief of sales for the Las Vegas Raiders, talked about how Las Vegas has “embraced the world of professional sports with open arms.”
She mentioned the upcoming Super Bowl in February, the Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup win and the recent Aces second championship.
“Sports has a unique way of fostering community. (People) with diverse backgrounds come together for a common purpose,” she said. “There is a sense of camaraderie that spills over into the workplace, creating a positive and collaborate atmosphere.”
She ended her talk with a few tips on how to build a strong professional network by fostering business relationships. Making connections with engaging conversations, becoming involved in the community and participating in local events were some of her suggestions.
Carrie Roper, Las Vegas-Review Journal’s director of digital broadcast, hosted the event and moderated a special panel discussion with Jeremy Aguero, Applied Analysis; Sam Joffray, Super Bowl Host Committee; and Alise Porto, Switch.
They talked about the economic impact of the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix and the Super Bowl, how our city leaders worked for decades to build the sports mecca we are all now watching take shape, and what’s next for the Las Vegas sports scene.
The panel agreed that sports is here to stay in the City of Neon. They predicted the industry will be a strong economic driver and promote even more major sporting events in future years.
“We were very pleased with the participation from the business community for this year’s event,” said Jeff Lawrence, director of advertising for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who is spearheading the Nevada Top Workplaces campaign. “We believe next year’s event will be even bigger.”
The Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas Business Press partnered with Philadelphia-based Energage for the campaign.
For 2023, 67 employers made the winners list out of 100 surveyed. Companies were eligible to participate provided they had 35 or more employees in Nevada, according to Bob Helbig, media partnership director with Energage.
“We’re still seeing historically high interest in companies that want this top workplace recognition,” Helbig said. “It continues to grow in Nevada. Companies are eager to get this third-party validation that they are doing things right in the eyes of their employees.”
Six of the nine companies in the category of 500 employees or more were recognized. Twenty of 22 midsize companies in the category of 150 to 499 were recognized. Forty-one out of 61 participants in the small business category of 149 or fewer employees were also honored.
“That means 67 out of those 100 companies, the survey feedback from employees was strong enough to merit recognition,” Helbig said. “Not everybody gets a blue ribbon. Every company that does this probably thinks they are going to get it and yet time and time again about a third of the companies do not earn this recognition. We truly think it’s a merit-based thing. You can’t buy your way onto this list. You have to survey every year. You don’t earn the status forever. You earn it for one year, and then you have to earn it again.”
Panda Restaurant Group placed first in the category of 500 or more employees for the third consecutive year.
Panda was followed in order by Everi, Cox, Helix Electric of Nevada, Station Casinos and Intermountain Health.
Picerne Real Estate Group received top honors in the category of 150 to 499. Picerne ranked No. 6 a year ago.
Picerne was followed in order by One Nevada Credit Union, Lexus of Las Vegas/Lexus of Henderson/Centennial Subaru, KB Home, Nathan Adelson Hospice, D.R. Horton, SupplyHouse, Eide Bailly LLP, Anderson Business Advisors, Raising Cane’s, William Bee Ririe Hospital, Nevada State Bank, Nicholas and Company, Clark County Credit Union, DraftKings, LIBERTY Dental Plan, Nevada Donor Network, Coral Academy of Science, VSP Industries and MC Carrier LLC.
In the category of 150 employees and fewer, AIL Neff Agencies was ranked No. 1.
AIL Neff Agencies was followed in order by Melon Local, Dimopoulos Law Group, The Penta Building Group, Janek Performance Group, Steelhead Productions, Absolute Flood Response, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp., LMS Building, Total Quality Logistics, De Castroverde Law Group, MDL Group, McCarthy Building Companies, Smart City Networks, Mountain America Credit Union, Nationwide Power Solutions, Barx Parx, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Seabreeze Management Company, KaempferCrowell, Robert Half, Monin Inc., Beazer Homes, Brighton Hospice, Westwood Professional Services, RSM US LLP, Western Funding, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, HopeLink of Southern Nevada, Security National Financial Corporation, Main Electric Supply, Cross Country Healthcare and Harris.
This year’s first Nevada Top Workplaces Woman-Led Company Award went to Karen Rubel, president and CEO, Nathan Adelson Hospice. Other special awards included three leadership awards: large category, Victor Fuchs, Helix Electric of Nevada; midsize category, David Gass, Anderson Business Advisors; and small category, Whitney Green, Melon Local. Other awards were: Direction, midsize category, Picerne Real Estate Group; Managers, midsize category, Lexus of Las Vegas/Lexus of Henderson/Centennial Subaru; New Ideas, large category, Everi; Doers, small category, AIL-Neff Agencies; Meaningfulness, midsize category, Nathan Adelson Hospice; Values, small category, The PENTA Building Group; Clued-in Senior Management, midsize category, One Nevada Credit Union; Communication, large category, Panda Restaurant Group; Appreciation, small category, Dimopoulos Law Firm; Work/Life Flexibility, small category, LMS Building Systems; Training, large category, Station Casinos; Benefits, large category, Cox.
The heart of the Top Workplaces program is an employee survey.
The 24-question survey collects feedback from those who know organizations the best: the people who work there, Helbig said. Employee feedback is the sole basis for determining which employers make the Top Workplaces list.
“What we think makes this award meaningful is it’s based entirely on employee survey feedback,” Helbig said. “There are no other factors that go into this. We feel who is better than the employees to decide whether the workplace environment is good.”
Most of the surveying was done between January and March of this year. Surveys went out to nearly 32,996 employees in the region, and 17,143 responded, Helbig said. They were asked questions ranging from leadership, communication, how they feel about their managers, work-life flexibility, pay and benefits and others.
Employers were divided based on the number of employees in the region, in order to compare feedback of similar-size groups. Organizations that exceeded benchmark scores for each size group made the winners list, Helbig said.
Within those groupings, organizations are ranked by the aggregate score based on the employee feedback; the more positive the employee responses, the higher the score, the higher the rank, Helbig said.
What did they learn this year?
“People have been talking about a potential recession, but we haven’t seen it yet,” Helbig said. “I still feel it’s an employees’ market, and there’s still enough demand for work that employees have choices where to go.
Companies need to provide quality work environments if they want to attract and retain workers. If companies don’t provide a quality work environment, employees are going to leave and go elsewhere.”
Helbig said workers continue to look for flexibility in locations, hours and schedule. There’s no solution with that, but Helbig said their recommendation is that companies need to listen to employees and experiment, he added.
“Maybe it’s a four-day workweek. Maybe it’s letting people start early and end their days early,” Helbig said. “Maybe it’s a combination of working from home and working at the office. There’s a lot of flexible options. COVID forced everyone to rethink what work looks like. There’s a lot of old-school managers who want everybody in the office and look over their shoulders to make sure their people are working. Those days are past us. I think there’s an understanding that people are perfectly willing to work under different circumstances and can be very productive.
“They don’t have to work 9 to 5 in the office. Post-COVID, a lot of people are saying I don’t want a commute anymore. Companies need to be flexible and experiment or they risk losing good employees to companies that are willing to experiment and show flexibility.”
Helbig said another area of focus by employees is health and wellness, benefits and what companies are willing to do to attract people in terms of issues like dependent care and mental health support.
“I think there’s a lot of interest and focus in making sure that the needs of employees in their personal lives are addressed,” Helbig said. “There’s a misconception that all workers are motivated by pay. We all want to be paid well and we all want a raise. It’s not the only thing that drives people. They make decisions based on other things. If you pay someone well and treat them lousy, they are not going to want to work harder and they are not going to want to stay.”
Employees also want to have faith in their leadership, belief in the direction of the organization, feel appreciated and be motivated to do their job, Helbig said.
“Those are things that we find time and time again really compel people to stay and give more,” Helbig said. “You have to pay people competitively, and you have to make sure the benefits are competitive. But people are far more willing to give of themselves if they believe in the mission of the organization, and they feel like there is a team effort to get things done.”
Helbig said many people changed jobs during the pandemic and learned that they made a bad decision. They realized that the grass “isn’t always greener.” They may have left for more pay but weren’t treated great.
“I think for a while there was a lot of churn and that has settled down a bit, and I think it gets back to these issues of what makes people give their best,” Helbig said. “It’s not simply pay and benefits.”
Another common thread among top workplaces is that companies are good at seeking out the opinions of their employees, listen to what they say and share what they have to say and act on those suggestions, Helbig said.
“Each one of those is important,” Helbig said. “It’s not good enough to just ask because if you ask and don’t do anything about it, people get frustrated. That’s almost worse than not asking at all because if you don’t ask at all there’s no expectation. Top workplaces ask for feedback. They listen to that feedback. They articulate what people are saying and areas where we know we have some room for improvement and then they address those things. Then they come up with an action plan. That’s important.”
There was one big change in the survey in Nevada compared to a year ago. In the question about pay and benefits, there was nearly a 12 percent decline in positivity from a year ago about benefits and 2.6 percent decline about pay.
There was a 4.6 percent decline about loyalty from a year ago.
Some 58 percent are positive about pay and 55 percent are positive about benefits.
The biggest positive gains year over year were about company execution, managers caring about employee concerns, managers helping employees develop and grow, interdepartmental cooperation, formal training and encouraging employee feedback.
“Almost everything is more positive except for benefits being way down,” Helbig said. “Execution is way up, which is interesting because the year before it was down. ‘My manager cares about my concerns and my manager helps me learn and grow’ are really important. People want to know that their managers have their back. The fact that they are up is significant.”
The difference in the Nevada surveys compared to the rest of the nation are negligible even though most in Nevada are lower in comparison, Helbig said. New ideas being encouraged is 4.4 percent lower than the rest of the country. Company execution was 3.3 percent higher while interdepartmental cooperation was 0.5 percent higher — the only two categories above the national survey.
To nominate a company for next year’s top workplace program, go to topworkplaces.com/nominate/nevada.