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What is workplace culture? Is it something like a mandatory lunchtime drum circle? What about an office salad club? Or a doughnut club? (Are you allowed to be a member of both?) Is it how many coworkers get together socially, outside of work?

Or is workplace culture something with a specific formula attached to it — maybe the percentage of 401k contribution your employer will match divided by the number of people expected to stay late every night to avoid getting fired?

When you try to nail it down, workplace culture can be kind of an airy concept, but basically, every workplace has a set of habits, policies and personalities that add up to a set of implied values, implicit and explicit, for better or worse. What does that mean for you?

A lot. This isn’t some frou-frou work detail. This is what it feels like at the place where you spend a third of your life. People write books about the topic, and there are some clear indicators to look for to gauge the cultural health of any potential employer. Employee retention is a big one. Sometimes, for example, the business model at a company is high-turnover, so if you’re looking for a long-term work home, watch out for companies where employee retention rates are low. Hiring from within is another big measure of health. Companies that promote internally — employees becoming managers, managers becoming directors and directors becoming executives — tend to invest more in the long-term success of their people.

Most growing companies in this day and age seem to understand it’s important to at least look like they have a robust culture so they invest a lot of money and time in presenting themselves that way. Because of this, when you’re looking for a job, it’s sometimes hard to see through the curated reviews and slick recruiting branding to really look inside a company and find a place that doesn’t turn out to be toxic once you’re there.

Certainly, no matter where you work there will always be co-workers who drive you nuts, managers who have no idea what they’re doing (but somehow keep getting promoted) and times where you’re asked to deliver in a no-win situation.

But the fact is, the overall culture of a company will usually reflect the values of the company’s leadership, be it actively or passively. Creating a positive culture requires people in charge to make decisions that prioritize people over profit, and some places are definitely better to work than others. Here, in no particular order, are eight Utah companies consistently ranked as having great workplace cultures:

CHG Healthcare

If you’re looking for a job in Utah, it’s likely you’re going to hear about CHG Healthcare. The company is consistently recognized, nationally and locally, as a great place to work. As a medical staffing company, CHG helps place nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals in a variety of positions all over the U.S. Here’s an example of what one employee had to say about their experience there: “CHG is the most transparent company I've ever been part of. Leaders are encouraged and expected to be available for coaching, feedback and sharing information. My direct leader regularly asks about my career and development goals and is aware of what's going on in my life outside work.”

This is typical of the kind of thing you’ll hear about CHG. From the interview process to work-life balance initiatives, like a generous parental return policy for mothers coming back to work, CHG probably does a lot to keep its people happy and healthy.

Domo

In both 2014 and 2015, Domo was named among the "Best Places to Work" by Utah Business. A computer software company offering a proprietary set of business intelligence tools to CEOs and executives, Domo’s products integrate data from a variety of platforms and systems to deliver clean data visualizations. Employees of this energetic company refer to themselves as “Domosapiens” so right out of the gate you know Domo folks have a sense of humor. A common refrain among employees is that the company feels like a startup in terms of the pace of work, individual responsibility and talent pool, but the management has made benefits and quality of work life a high priority. Some examples of what their employees have to say:

“Smart people. Some of the best and brightest in the state (and beyond) here.”

“Domo takes care of its employees by providing a very long list of perks and benefits that outshine any other company I've every worked for.”

“Breakfast options along with catered lunch and dinner every day.” (Seriously? We had to do a double-take on this one. But, yes, it turns out Domo feeds its people well.)

Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi makes really solid, well-designed outdoor gear, and they work hard to make it ethically and responsibly. As with other companies that really try to make their ethics a central part of their business model, many of the employee reviews reflect a sense of spiritual alignment with the company’s mission. One employee says: “The tagline of this company is DO GOOD. The Cotopaxi team truly lives its value statement in all aspects, which makes working for Cotopaxi simply great. If you are uncertain about how to DO GOOD in this world, it's a great place to be. You do your job and at the same time there are awesome projects going on with sustainable impact.”

Further still, Cotopaxi is the kind of place that encourages its people to actually live the kind of life they advertise. After 18 months with the company, employees are given a stipend to save toward their travel dreams.

OC Tanner

OC Tanner’s mission is to help companies find ways to recognize employees for their hard work. (A company that helps other companies better their culture featured in an article about the companies with great cultures. How meta is that?) Headquartered in Salt Lake City, OC Tanner has thousands of clients in 150 countries. They were ranked 61 on the 2016 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list.

There are a lot of “lifers” at OC Tanner, which is becoming less common, so you know they have made an effort over time to keep people around. Here’s an example of the kind of thing you might hear about working at OC Tanner: “I have been fortunate to spend most of my career at O.C. Tanner! Simply put, be patient, work hard, view each day and project as an opportunity, and the company takes great care of you. The people I work with, the leadership team, the compensation and benefits are very fair and in some cases unheard of at other companies.”

HealthEquity

Awarded “Best Company to Work for” in 2013 by Utah Business Magazine, HealthEquity is the largest non-bank Health Savings Account “custodian” in the country. What that means is they help companies and employees find consumer-based solutions to pay for healthcare as a supplement to standard insurance packages. One employee says: “They have training to further your career, a clear career ladder in most departments so you know what you need to do to be promoted. They spend the time to put together cohesive teams that care about one another; this synergy creates a positive, happy atmosphere to work. Friends are easy to make. HR listens and is adaptive to suggestions.”

HealthCatalyst

According to the company’s website: “Health Catalyst is a mission-driven data-warehousing, analytics and outcomes-improvement company that helps healthcare organizations of all sizes improve clinical, financial, and operational outcomes needed to improve population health and accountable care.” Basically, that means the company attempts to help healthcare companies make sense of their data. Employees of HealthCatalyst say things like:

“By far the best benefits out of anywhere I've worked: unlimited PTO, 401k match, HSA matching, stock options, on-site gym, paid paternity/maternity leave, work from home, free snacks, home internet reimbursement. Definite sense that management wants to make Health Catalyst a great place to work.”

“…We're all referred to as owners, never as employees. That's just plain cool.”

MACU

Mountain America Credit Union is a non-tie-wearing bank. (Well, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.) Training is one aspect of workplace culture that consistently comes up when we look at how companies treat their employees. Are people set up properly to succeed? Do they know what’s expected of them and have they been shown clearly what the company expects of them in order to do their job? At MACU the answer to these questions seems to be “yes.” “Excellent training program for new employees,” says one reviewer.

Additionally, it’s always helpful to look at reviews of companies from people who have had more than one job in the same industry. Take this comment from a seasoned insider for example: “I came from the Horse and Carriage Bank, and will NEVER look back! With MACU you receive credit for every sale and every member, you don't see gaming or any other dishonest practices here. There is a culture of helping the member with what THEY need and not what would looks good on a report.”

BambooHR

BambooHR is a human resources software company based in Lindon, Utah, founded in 2008. Not surprisingly, the company puts considerable effort into fostering an environment that’s reflective of its mission. They practice what they sell, so to speak. Here are a couple representative quotes about the company:

“The leadership at BambooHR is amazing. They are open and honest with their employees and they truly care about the product, customers and their employees. I have worked in every type of company, from Fortune 500s to small startups. BambooHR is by far the best company I have ever worked for in my 20+ years in the work force.”

“Work hard and go home and enjoy your life. No one will be emailing you on weekends or bugging you at 7 p.m. for an urgent deadline. On top of all that life balance stuff, the values at Bamboo of being open and assuming the best are really practiced and they make it actually constructive to have a tough conversation with someone.”

Getting excited about working somewhere that wants to invest in you? Find the Utah workplace culture that’s right for you at KSL Jobs.