meganclubbWhat fun to see long-time client Baker Boyer Bank win top honors in the mid-sized companies division of the Seattle Business Magazine Best Places to Work Competition at the Westin Hotel on June 16.

With entries at an all time high and 650 in attendance its clear many organizations realize it’s important to focus on employees’ loyalty, especially when tough economic times require belt-tightening and layoffs.   No doubt the companies honored Thursday have faced economic challenges.  However, with employee response surveys playing a critical role in the selection process, they have done a pretty good job of keeping employee goodwill.

Knowing the Baker Boyer story and hearing stories of the other winners, I saw three themes stand out.  First, Best Companies encourage two way communication and act on what they hear.  Baker Boyer did not make the risky residential and commercial real estate loans that brought down so many of their competitors. After careful consultation with their loan officers, the leadership team made the decision to stay away from loans that didn’t make sense even though it meant lower profits in the short term.

Second, Best Companies never lose sight of their customers.  Even when their customers were literally walking in the door because of Baker Boyer’s stability and soundness, President and CEO Megan Clubb continued to press for and supported ongoing customer improvement efforts.

Finally, Best Companies innovate.  At Baker Boyer that meant increasing the time spent interviewing prospective employees.  A committed customer service team felt that picking the right people was so critical they had to support it with time and money.  And management did, even when others in the industry didn’t see it as important.

Here’s hoping even more people attend the Best Places to Work awards next year. It will be a sign that more companies recognize the value of the employee team, regardless of the economic climate. In clear proof that Best Places to Work can have great financial performance as well, Baker Boyer was ranked 24th nationally the U.S. Banker Magazine’s most recent list of top performers among community banks over the past two years. As Megan Clubb said when she accepted the award on behalf of Baker Boyer Bank. “We think the future is really bright for our customers and our employees.”

To read about the awards and see a list of 10 characteristics of a Best Company to Work for go to