The research for the Chamber's report is collected throughout the year, then compiled and aggregated over a grueling three-week period in December.
"It's a rough month, but we look forward to it -- although three weeks of eating Papa John's and Chick-fil-A in a conference room gets a little old," a senior lobbyist said.
Papa John's Pizza and Chick-fil-A, incidentally, topped the Chamber's list of the best companies for 2012, along with GameStop, Rite Aid, Hewlett-Packard, Robert Half International, Sears, OfficeMax, Hertz, RadioShack, Dillard's, and Dish Network. The Chamber also recognized Lonmin, G4S, Monsanto, British Petroleum, and Shell for International Honors.
Number 8: Quicken Loans
Employees expressed pride and satisfaction in the online mortgage lender's decision to move from the comfort of the Michigan suburbs to downtown Detroit. But investors and analysts expressed dismay with this costly and unproductive attempt to sink profits into revitalizing a lost cause. Part public relations stunt and part altruism, it's the recipe for a toxic potion that makes ledgers hemorrhage red.
Number 7: CHG Health Services
Great pay, amazing benefits, and a suggestion box that's opened daily and acted upon. This year, the company enhanced its already bloated drug plan, constructed a gym for employees, and added another holiday to the books -- Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. CHG sure sounds like a fabulous place to work...for as long as it can sustain itself after spending like a sailor on shore leave. We're giving CHG a few months before declaring bankruptcy. Soon-to-be-ex-employees should hope their severance packages are as generous as their compensation.
Number 6: REI
REI wants its employees to share the same spirit of adventure and love for the outdoors as its customers. But unlike its customers, REI's workers receive free equipment rentals and incomprehensibly hefty discounts on merchandise. And REI throws in a whole bunch of personal leave and sabbaticals so its 11.000 employees can enjoy all of this free stuff. REI certainly understands work-life balance. But one has to wonder if its officers understand balance sheets.
Number 5: NetApp
According to Fortune, the data storage firm's "pay-for-performance program triggered huge bonuses last year when revenues shot up from $3.9 billion to $5 billion. Employees received payouts of up to 31% of their salary." Those bonuses, as any successful banker will tell you, should have gone directly to the executives responsible for steering the ship toward the waters of prosperity. With the galley slaves and oarsmen reaping the spoils of the company's bounty, what incentives exist for NetApp's officers to keep making profits? Like CHG, this is another well-meaning business that's piloting itself blissfully unaware into a field of icebergs. The road to the hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. NetApp's paved itself a superhighway.
Number 4: Edward Jones
With 11,000 offices nationwide, this investment firm has a lot of overhead. As part of the financial services sector, Edward Jones faced an uphill battle over the last few years of recession and economic hardship. And yet, the company managed to emerge from the Great Recession with only minor bruising -- and not a single layoff. Every non-essential employee, every worker right down to the housekeeping staff, all still gainfully employed by Edward Jones. Sure, that's testament to smart decision making and flawlessly executed corporate planning. But why didn't Edward Jones use all that savvy and brainpower to triple its profits by cutting some of the fat? In the end, the company stands out as little more than a weak status quo player, afraid to grow.
Number 3: Wegmans Food Markets
This family-owned grocery chain promotes healthy living. Unfortunately, it's not just a clever marketing ploy, but an honest-to-goodness corporate philosophy. And if Wegmans wanted to spread that message by funding exorbitant and largely unnecessary employer-sponsored health plans that stink of creeping socialism, then that would be its business as a private company. But over 2,000 Wegmans employees have enrolled in the smoking-cessation programs the company's owners created back in 2009. So, Wegmans makes our list because of its efforts to sabotage and cripple businesses in other industries -- in this case, tobacco and healthcare, the latter contributing to the economy by treating the victims of tobacco. If the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came up with an annual "Selfish Bastards" survey, we're confident Wegmans would reach number one the first year.
Number 2: SAS Institute
This software innovator subsidizes child care for its employees, offers unlimited sick time, hosts intramural sports leagues, and houses a free health center on its campus. These are just a few of the perks offered to workers, which are too numerous and too disturbing to recall here. And the salaries are top-notch as well. For a paltry $2 billion company, we're convinced that SAS Institute is generating money as a result of the black arts and a pact with Satan. And for being in league with this sort of evil, it's a perennial favorite on our list.
Number 1: Google
For employees, Google is quite literally a paradise on Earth. Workers have everything they need. They love their mission, their campus, their bosses, and all the free Google Kool-Aid that pours into their cups from a perpetually flowing fountain. It's sort of like finding a gingerbread house in the middle of the forest, isn't it?
Google makes our list because we know that one day an employee will evade the ovens of the gingerbread house, follow the trail of breadcrumbs back to civilization, and tell authorities of the strange, brutal, and cannibalistic happenings at the world's largest accumulator of information. Some of us have even hypothesized that the origin of the anti-Christ might be revealed during this debriefing.
The moral is: if something's too good to be true, it probably is. So listen workers of America, if you think your job is the best thing since sliced bread, even if you slice bread for a living, brace yourselves for a hard fall when you realize that you've buried yourself in the manure you've been shoveling for the company bull all these years.
(c) 2013. See disclaimers.