Presented by: Dallas Morning News

Celebrating companies that celebrate employees just never gets old.

So hats off to the sixth annual winners of The Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Places to Work 2014!

These companies keep their employees in the loop, treat them with respect and provide the tools and training they need to advance their careers. They make workers feel like they are part of a much larger mission than simply earning a paycheck.

Our list is diverse, with companies and organizations involved in energy, medicine, real estate, construction, financial, big data, home security, hospice, senior living, rehabilitation, legal services, fast-food, fine dining, software, elementary education, religion, psychiatry and car sales.

Whew!

Pioneer Natural Resources USA rose to the top as our No. 1 large company, supplanting The Container Store, which led the largest employers list the previous two years. Our midsize winner is Republic Title of Texas Inc., and Cornea Associates of Texas tops the small company category.

Does being a company with a heart make a difference?

Consider this: Pioneer has been the best-performing energy stock in the S&P 500 since 2009. And it’s busy: Pioneer was the third-most-active operator in the country in 2013, based on footage drilled.

The Irving-based oil and gas exploration and production company has made the Top 100 list every year since we launched it in the depths of recession in 2009. Only 11 other companies have that same claim to fame.

Listening to staffers

Keeping employees enthusiastic year after takes careful nurturing so that the culture doesn’t become stale.

What did our perennial winners do to show the everlasting love?

Denbury Resources gave out a million bucks in awards to employees picked by co-workers for going the extra mile. And CEO Phil Rykhoek met with every Plano-based employee in groups of 15 during casual Coffee With Phil meetings.

Employees at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers wanted more flexibility and control over their hours. So it rolled out a cloud-based management tool that allows them to check schedules and swap shifts anytime, anywhere.

Some of our winners are back by popular demand.

When Riveron Consulting, a financial and accounting services firm, fell off the list in 2013, managing director Matt Bender wanted to know why. He launched a program that polls the entire firm between the Workplace Dynamics surveys. He learned that employees want more formal training.

“We quickly instituted a formal training calendar, assigned key people accountable to executing it, and dramatically increased the training offered,” Bender says. “That seems simple, but it showed our interest in hearing from our team and responding to make the firm better.”

Our companies know that lighthearted activities can produce serious results.

As part of its Fun Fridays, StoneGate Senior Living’s corporate office held its version of TV’s Shark Tank. Employees pitched ideas to improve the company to C-level executive sharks.

“It was a lot of fun for all of us,” says John Paul Taylor, StoneGate’s chief operating officer. “And we’ve already implemented some of the ideas.”

Showing appreciation

Stryker Communications, which designs, installs and services high-tech operating rooms around the world, hosts a springtime employee appreciation week.

This year, the grand finale was a huge barbecue cook-off where 25 employee contestants served up more than 200 pounds of meat. Who better to judge their culinary effort than Flower Mound firefighters from Station 5, who brought their firetruck to the event?

Morale boosters can be as simple as fresh paint, as the folks at Frontline Source Group learned.

“Renovating our offices, across all locations, has brought a fresh perspective to our company’s culture,” says Bill Kasko, president and CEO of the staffing service. “Frontline now identifies itself with bright new colors that have given us a new energy.”

Read the full story: http://res.dallasnews.com/interactives/top100/

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