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Best Places to Work in Mississippi building momentum

JACKSON — More than 300 people gathered January 17 at the Trademart, all to find out which companies in Mississippi are the best employers. The second-annual Best Places to Work in Mississippi program built on the success of the 2006 program, according to Robbie L. Bell, vice president of business development at the Mississippi Business Journal, which puts on Best Places.

“Having just completed the second year of administering our Best Places to Work in Mississippi awards program, I can honestly say that I am in awe of the participants and their achievements in providing good working environments for their employees,” Bell said. “Mississippi needs to continue strengthening our workforce, and it’s very encouraging to know so many companies take this seriously and are making positive contributions to that goal.

Workers given voice

Workers of participating companies, via a secure Web site, anonymously respond to a questionnaire, consisting of 60 rating-scale questions, two open-ended questions and seven optional demographic questions, asking how well their employer stacks up in a number of different areas. These include everything from culture and values to learning and development.

Those completed responses are then sent electronically to Southern Research Group in Jackson, which tabulates the responses. Those participating employers in the program’s four size categories — small (25-49 employees), medium (50-199 employees), large (200-499 employees) and mega-large (500 or more employees) — that scored the highest are presented with an award, and are featured in a special publication. (The 2007 special publication is scheduled for release in April.)

Bell was quick to point out that while not all participating companies received awards, there were no losers.

“Since all participating companies receive a report on the results of surveys completed by their employees, I think they are all winners,” she said. “With this program, we’re providing a very inexpensive and highly effective method for companies to get an annual ‘pulse beat’ on how they’re doing with their practices and policies.”

Consider the source

The winners in the small category were TempStaff, McGlinchey Stafford, PLLC, and Members Exchange Credit Union. The medium category winners were Edward Jones (which was recently named to “Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune magazine), Ross and Yerger Inc. and FNC Inc. Winners in the large category were Southern Pipe and Supply Company Inc., Coast Electric Power Association and Rankin Medical Center. And in the mega-large category, the winners were Community Bank, Magnolia Regional Health Care and BankPlus.

All of the recipients said they were thrilled to win the award, especially since it came from employees’ responses.
Tony Sims, director of advertising and vice president of Community Bancshares Inc., parent of Community Bank, was particularly pleased as his company has now won Best Places to Work both years it has been conducted.

Sims said, “Community Bank has long believed that taking special care of our staff is not only the right thing to do, but is good business, as well. We have found that the best customer service comes from happy staff members. We are honored that our staff and management have been recognized for their efforts for the second consecutive year.”

Ron Black with Meridian-based Southern Pipe and Supply said, “It’s an honor to have our family members recognize the company by responding to the ‘Best Places to Work’ survey in such a positive way. We began a quest several years ago to establish Southern Pipe as an ‘employer of choice’ in every market we operate. Winning the ‘Best Large Company to Work for in Mississippi’ award is the proof that our family members feel that we’re making progress in our quest. We are very proud of the leadership that our managers have provided in winning this award. The work environment that our family members and managers have created is worthy of this recognition.”

Jarome Milner, a partner in Edward Jones, which is based in New Orleans but has an office in Jackson, said his firm was pleased to win both the MBJ and Fortune recognition. He said Edward Jones was as thrilled with the participation in the Best Places to Work program as it was with winning.

“One hundred and nineteen out of 150 employees took the survey. We thought that was outstanding,” Milner said. “We had several of our people who were upset that they might not be able to participate. They wanted to tell how great a place Edward Jones is to work. That, in itself, is very rewarding.”
After receiving TempStaff’s award, president Carolyn Ann Boteler immediately found her managers and gave them a hug. She said she appreciated the commitment to service by both her managers and staff, a trait especially crucial in the staffing industry.

“In this industry, you have an opportunity to help others, and you need a servant’s heart,” she said. “We work hard together and play hard together. We have strived to create a family environment, and make sure everyone knows they are a piece of the puzzle.”

For more information about Best Places to Work in Mississippi, visit www.bestplacestoworkinms.com.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.


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