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January 23, 2002
Fortune Ranks the Best Places to Work
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Edward Jones, the St. Louis-based brokerage firm, ranks No. 1 this year on Fortune magazine's list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For."

The business magazine, which published the list on Monday, noted that Edward Jones hadn't laid off employees, despite a tough year for brokerage companies. In an employee survey, 97 percent gave the company high marks for honesty.

Here are the magazine's top 10 employers, with three sharing the No. 8 spot:

1. Edward Jones, St. Louis

2. Container Store, Dallas

3. SAS Institute, Cary, N.C.

4. TDIndustries, Dallas

5. Synovus Financial, Columbus, Ga.

6. Xilinx, San Jose, Calif.

7. Plante & Moran, Southfield, Mich.

8. Qualcomm, San Diego

8. Alston & Bird, Atlanta

8. Baptist Health Care, Pensacola, Fla.

The list was prepared by the Great Place to Work Institute, a consulting firm in San Francisco that does employee-satisfaction surveys for business. Two-thirds of the evaluation is based on a survey of employees. The workers to be surveyed are "randomly" selected by company management.

Institute President Robert Levering told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "lots and lots" of Jones workers remarked on how well they were treated. He noted that one assistant to a stockbroker wrote that the company sent her flowers after she sent in a suggestion.

"The company goes out of its way to make a good work environment," Levering told the newspaper.

Other workers said Edward Jones helps them combine work and family. For instance, 16-month-old Michael Coyne plays at his mother's feet while she works as a Jones marketing specialist.

The mother, Kathy Coyne, moved her laptop and fax machine into Michael's bedroom. She works two days a week at the office and two days a week at home. "Ninety percent of the time, he's playing on the floor," she said of Michael.

John Bachmann, Edward Jones' managing partner, told the Post-Dispatch that he manages the company to avoid layoffs, although he can't promise he will always succeed. More than 20,000 people are employed by Edward Jones in the United States and, through its affiliates, in Canada and the United Kingdom.

The institute noted that Edward Jones paid bonuses to its brokers early, to help make up the decline in commissions stemming from the bear market in stocks.

The company also tries to distribute the more obvious perks up and down the hierarchy. For instance, its box at Sunday's NFL playoff game between the St. Louis Rams and the Green Bay Packers was occupied by brokers' assistants from St. Louis and Wisconsin.

Inclusion on the list is a big help in recruiting employees, said company spokeswoman Mary Beth Heying.


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