best of the best

3 Houston employers clock in among Fortune's 100 best companies to work

Three Houston companies have been recognized for their superior work environments. Getty Images

Hunting for a job in Houston? A new ranking from Fortune magazine suggests you might consider three local companies.

Camden Property Trust, David Weekley Homes, and Hilcorp Energy Co. all rank on Fortune's 2020 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, published February 18.

Fortune bases its annual list of the best workplaces on a nationwide study done by analytics firm Great Place to Work. This time around, the study featured input from more than 4.1 million U.S. workers who responded to over 60 survey questions.

Houston-based apartment owner and operator Camden Property Trust comes in at No. 18, an improvement over last year's rank of 19. The real estate owner and operator is known for a lighthearted corporate culture that has seen executives willing to poke fun at themselves and others at company events and celebrations, according to the list.

Camden Property Trust continues to be one of Houston's best places to work. Camden Property Trust/Facebook

There are also perks to working for an apartment landlord; 44 percent of employees live in Camden-owned apartments and take advantage of a 20 percent rent-discount benefit that collectively saves them more than $1.9 million per year.

Not far down the list, at No. 23, is Houston-based homebuilder David Weekley Homes, which makes a big leap over last year's rank of 41. Family comes first at this nationwide homebuilding company, says the report. Prospective employees often participate in Key Influencer Visits, where they are interviewed (often in their homes) alongside family members or close friends to help hiring managers better understand their personalities and backgrounds.

There's also an internship program designed specifically for employees' children and a discount on homes sold to staffers and their family members (a set percentage based on tenure). One worker says, "It really exemplifies how the company puts the employees first, even before customers."

New to the list this year is Houston-based oil and gas production company Hilcorp Energy Co. The largest privately held oil and natural-gas production company in the U.S., Hilcorp challenges its employees to think in terms of Big Hairy Audacious Goals, the lofty performance goals it sets every five years. For every BHAG met, employees are rewarded with significant cash bonuses and even new cars.

To meet these goals, CEO Greg Lalicker believes, total transparency is a must, from frontline employees to the CFO, according to the report. All financials, cash flow, investments, oil- and gas-price impacts, BHAG progress reports, and other critical information are shared in monthly, companywide "lifting cost" meetings. "It blows your mind to be in your first lifting-cost meeting and hear supersecret information," recalls one new hire.

Five other Texas-based employers also appear on this year's list:

  • No. 15. - Arlington-based Texas Health Resources ranks first among Texas-based employers and 15th nationwide on Last year, the organization ranked ninth nationwide.
  • No. 55. - San Antonio-based financial services provider USAA. Last year's rank: 30.
  • No. - 66. Dallas-based Ryan LLC, a provider of tax software and services. Last year's rank: 52.
  • No. 86. - San Antonio-based oil pipeline and terminal operator NuStar Energy LP. Last year it was unranked.
  • No. 88. - Dallas-based Encompass Health Home Health & Hospice, part of Birmingham, Alabama-based Encompass Health Corp. Last year's rank: 54.

Nationwide, McLean, Virginia-based Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. ranks first on this year's Fortune list, followed by Weston, Florida-based Ultimate Software Group Inc., Rochester, New York-based Wegmans Food Markets Inc., San Jose, California-based Cisco Systems Inc., and Pleasanton, California-based Workday Inc.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

"There's something magical happening in Houston, and [VCs] want a piece of it." Photo via Getty Images

Houston's seen a growth in startup and venture investment — even amid the pandemic — and a group of Houston innovators sat down for a virtual event to discuss what's lead to this evolution.

The Greater Houston Partnership hosted an installment of its Houston Industry Series focused on Digital Tech on Thursday, September 24. The panel of experts, moderated by Krisha Tracy of Google Cloud, discussed how they've observed the paradigm shift that's occurred in Houston over the past few years — and why.

Missed the discussion? Here are some significant overheard moments from the virtual event.

“I think there really is an interest for venture capital here, both locally and also welcoming it from outside of Houston. … There’s something magical happening in Houston, and [VCs] want a piece of it. I think that magical piece is a renewed interest in collaborating.”

Stephanie Campbell, managing director of Houston Angel Network and co-founder of The Artemis Fund. "I think a lot [of this progress] is due to the GHP, Houston Exponential, and the founding of the HX Venture Fund to bring those venture funds to Houston to say, 'what's happening here?'" Campbell adds, saying that this connectivity and collaboration that's happening in Houston VC is unique.

“I think there’s a misconception around all we do is oil and gas and life science in Houston, but when you think about what VC-backable companies look like, they’re tech, they’re B2B SaaS, they’re highly scalable, and they don’t tend to be capital-intensive types of things we see corporate venture backing.”

Campbell says, adding "the connectivity and the interest in VC is really taking off. It's an exciting time to be in Houston and Texas in general."

“Plug and Play’s ventures team is based in Silicon Valley and one thing they enjoy about meeting Houston-based founders is valuations tend to be more reasonable than in the Bay Area."

Payal Patel, director of Plug and Play Tech Center in Houston. "There are gems to be found," she adds.

“I don’t know what it is — if it’s something in the water or just Texans being very friendly, but the investors here share deal flow. It takes a village, and I think we all understand a rising tide lifts all boats."

Patel says on the collaborative nature of Houston. "It's really magical."

“What you’re witnessing is a city that has been waiting for industrial innovation to reach the point where it can be adopted at a really high scale, and that happened around 2017.”

Jon Nordby, managing director at MassChallenge Texas in Houston. Nordby adds that MassChallenge in Houston hasn't been keen on consumer tech, or the "grilled cheese delivery apps," as he describes. "We like companies that are in love with problems, not so much in love with solutions. … We build really meaningful tech."

“Over the last year or two, we’ve seen that sleeping giant get awoken. Open and external innovation is newly adopted by more legacy industries where it wasn’t before — and that’s just created a mountain of opportunities for startups and investors alike.”

Nordby says on the shift toward this meaningful, problem-solving technology, which Houston is full of, as he observes.

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