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January 20, 2003
Fortune Ranks Best Companies
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truggling economy didn't stop some companies from being among the best places for which to work.

Edward Jones, a stockbroker headquartered in St. Louis, topped Fortune magazine's annual "100 Best Companies to Work For" list for the second year in a row.

The company, which has 7,474 branches, has profit sharing and significant employee ownership (25 percent of employees hold partnership stakes). The company had no layoffs this past year and maintained a training program on which it spends 3 percent of payroll and an average of 149 hours per employee per year.

Ranked second for the second year in a row is The Container Store, a Texas retailer that continues to offer one of the highest pay scales in the retail field. It also provides domestic partner benefits, free yoga classes at distribution centers and chair massages at its headquarters.

Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird finished third. The company received high marks for its daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly communication. The firm had no layoffs last year.

Semiconductor maker Xilinx, headquartered in San José, ranked fourth. Despite a sharp economic downturn in the high-tech sector, the company continued a no-layoff policy. To reduce costs, workers took a 6-percent pay cut, and the CEO took a 20 percent cut.

Adobe, a software company, followed in fifth place in the list. The firm offers paid sabbaticals, Friday night beer bashes, and an annual holiday black-tie party.

The authors of the list say that workers judge employers on how they deal with difficult times.

"In good times, these companies go wild with the perks-yoga classes, volleyball courts, family rooms," say Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work Institute in San Francisco, which puts together the annual list. "In tough times, priorities change. But even when layoffs are unavoidable, they try to do it in an upfront and upstanding way. And if they end up feeling like more than just a place to work, that's the point."

To select this year's list, Levering and Moskowitz surveyed a random sample of employees from 269 finalist companies to get their opinions about their workplaces. A total of 40,713 employees responded to the survey, created by the Great Place to Work Institute. Nearly half of the 19,529 employees surveyed gave additional written comments. Each company was also asked to fill out a questionnaire describing its HR policies and workplace culture. In scoring the responses, Levering and Moskowitz placed the greatest weight on the employee responses (two-thirds of the total), in addition to evaluating each company's benefits and practices.

Fortune's Top Ten Companies to Work For:

1. Edward Jones
2. Container Store
3. Alston & Bird
4. Xilinx
5. Adobe Systems
6. American Cast Iron Pipe
7. TDIndustries
8. J.M. Smucker
9. Synovus Financial Corp.
10. Wegmans Food Markets

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