You’d be surprised what makes employees happy. How about just clear direction as to what is expected of them? One person I interviewed told me that they’d take a little less money so that they could work in an atmosphere where the boss wasn’t screaming all the time. I think most employees today don’t expect unrealistic perks like the ones given in the late ’90s. They know they won’t get catered lunch or a massage at their desk everyday. But they want flexibility from their employer so that they can better balance work and home. Or maybe the opportunity to come in a little earlier so that they can leave a little earlier. Nothing much, really. Perhaps just good health benefits so half the money they earn doesn’t go toward medical care. Over the years, even the smallest of companies have come to realize that they can do relatively little things to make employees happy and make their place considered a good place to work. There are lots of these types of companies here in the Valley and the Business Journal wants to find the best of them. That’s why we are in the process of accepting applications for our first Best Places to Work special report and event. But time is running out. You have only until this Friday, June 13, to go online to www.bestplacestoworksfv.com and register. It will take just a few minutes. The survey process begins after that. The process costs nothing. All you need to do is register by Friday. It’s a totally scientific survey process for which we have hired an outside company to gather information on our local firms. Everything is done online and through the asking of some questions of both company executives and employees, the 50 best places to work in the greater-Valley area will be computed. The top companies will be honored at an event on Sept. 17 and we will write about these firms in a Sept. 29 special report. Being selected as a “Best Place to Work” can only be good for your business and can help you attract the best employees out there. Specifically, these are some of the things the survey firm will be looking at: – Staff diversity – 401(k), profit sharing, stock option programs – Health care and other benefits – Work schedules, telecommuting – Green initiatives – Advancement philosophy – Corporate objectives – Communication with employees – Atmosphere of cooperation – Behavior of supervisors It’s the last few items on the list, as I mentioned, that may be more important to the average employee than the other things. These are the things that aren’t necessarily written down in employee handbooks. Participants must have 15 employees to be considered for this special contest; municipalities and non-profits as well as industries are encouraged to participate. All who enter will receive a short report, for free, on how they fared in the survey. For a fee (less than $1,000) companies can receive a more detailed report including a complete spreadsheet detailing the results of the Employee Satisfaction Survey and a transcript of all comments of employees who participated in the survey (with names removed to protect the innocent). The detailed report, I believe, will be invaluable to companies and is a bargain, especially for small businesses. A consultant will charge you many thousands of dollars to provide you with such feedback. Participating in Best Places to Work also provides a chance for smaller companies to compete with the large companies who, just because they have more resources, may not provide a better work environment. Go to www.bestplacestoworksfv.com and register. It’ll only take a few minutes. It’s a good investment of your time. Business Journal Editor Jason Schaff can be reached at (818) 316-3125 or at email@example.com .