Average total pay: $150,500 For: Software Engineer* Best companies rank: 52
Autodesk takes pride in its spirit of fairness. There are no executive parking spots, and CEO Carl Bass does not have a door on his office. Last year, when the maker of 3-D design, engineering and entertainment software had to reduce expenses, senior leaders took pay cuts between between 2% and 10%.
All new hires receive stock options, and managers have discretion to award restricted stock shares to anyone who deserves them. After every four years, all employees are awarded six weeks off with full pay, on top of their regular vacation time.
Autodesk also allows employees to take up to six paid days per year to volunteer in their communities. The company gave away more than $1 million in cash and about $1.5 million in software donations in 2010 -- and matched over $200,000 in employee donations.
Average total pay: $154,543 For: Consultant* Best companies rank: 2
Road-warriors fly the work-friendly skies with Boston Consulting Group. Consultants with a lot to do on long flights can often upgrade to business class on the company dime. That's just one of many perks that add up to a top-notch rewards package. New consultants receive up to $184,800, and as their rapidly expanding responsibilities increase, their compensation follows suit.
BCG spends thousands of dollars to recruit new consultants. It hooks smart candidates with lures such as signing bonuses, a 5% profit sharing retirement fund contribution, no preset limits on sick-leave, three weeks' vacation to start, and a wide range of training opportunities.
The firm's health benefits are generous and require no employee contribution. As one employee noted: "My wife and I recently had our first child, and it was a complicated birth that ran up nearly $200,000 in hospital charges. We paid only $5."
8. Hitachi Data Systems
Average total pay: $163,694 For: Sales Support Function/Solutions Consultant* Best companies rank: 86
Hitachi Data Systems says its company ethos of Hitachi Spirit is "more than a poster on a wall." Its values of fairness, honesty, and integrity include taking care of nearly 2,000 U.S.-based employees as well. In addition to generous pay packages, Hitachi's 401(k) match is up to 6% of salary. The information technology arm of Hitachi Ltd. offers a Global Incentive Plan that pays out bonuses four times per year -- and everyone in the company is eligible. Recognition is also a big deal around Hitachi. Through the company website, co-workers can point out each other's achievements, and qualified employees can get prizes like flat-screen TVs. The company gave away more than $2.6 million worth of gifts in 2010. Managers can reward workers with a Night on the Town, which can mean dinner for two or tickets to a sporting event. Those who find their way into Hitachi's Circle of Excellence earn trips to places like Barcelona or the Great Barrier Reef.
7. Ultimate Software
Average total pay: $166,000 For: System Consultant* Best companies rank: 25
Salespeople aren't the only employees at Ultimate Software to reap immediate rewards for the company's success. Everyone at the human resources and payroll software maker gets to take at least one company-subsidized trip every two years -- and take their family members, too.
All new hires receive restricted stock shares, and Ultimate offers a long list of benefits, including long-term disability, vision, dental, tuition reimbursement up to $5,250 per year, and an employee assistance program that extends to employees' family members.
Paying well is paying off. The company hit its 2010 goal of almost $228 million in revenues with plans to hit the $400 million mark by 2013.
6. Devon Energy
Average total pay: $178,305 For: Engineer* Best companies rank: 28
With reserves of 2.9 billion barrels of oil -- and more than $6 billion spent on exploration and development in 2011 -- it's unlikely that Devon Energy will be running on empty any time soon.
One of the nation's leading independent oil and natural gas producers, Devon paid its people median bonuses of more than $9,000 in 2010. Through a Super 401(k) program, the company contributes up to 22% of cash compensation (salary plus bonus), depending on the employee's own contribution and tenure.
About half of Devon's employees receive long-term incentives, including restricted stock. Clearly it keeps them happy: Full-time turnover is below 5%. On the charitable side, the company matches 100% of its team members' United Way contributions.
5. EOG Resources
Average total pay: $188,663 For: Engineer* Best companies rank: 72
Talk about pay-dirt. Through its BCFe Awards (that's Billion Cubic Feet Equivalent for the uninitiated), employee divisions of EOG reap big bonuses when they hit key milestones. Pools range from $200,000 to $500,000, up to a possible cumulative payout of $2,450,000 over the productive life of a project at the independent energy exploration and production company.
EOG offers a shockproof retirement plan, matching 401(k) contributions buck-for-buck up to 6% of annual compensation. It also offers a company-funded retirement contribution of up to 9% of annual compensation. All new hires receive stock appreciation rights (SARs), and all employees are eligible for annual SARs grants as part of their compensation packages.
4. Perkins Coie
Average total pay: $189,409 For: Associate* Best companies rank: 58
Health insurance is on the house at Perkins Coie. The law firm pays 100% of medical and dental premiums to full-time employees who work at least 25 hours a week.
The firm regularly provides free breakfast and lunch at a number of its offices. In the off-hours, it sponsors book and softball clubs. Other extras include pet insurance and long-term care insurance for employees' parents and grandparents.
Perkins is also looking out for its employees for the long haul, kicking 7.3% of team members' salaries into a retirement fund and matching 401(k) contributions up to fifty cents on the dollar up to 6% of salary. Staff employees are eligible to receive up to two months' paid sabbatical leave to do anything they want, except work for pay.
3. Alston & Bird
Average total pay: $201,233 For: Associate* Best companies rank: 24
For employees of Alston & Bird who aren't sure how to manage all that money they're making, the law firm offers quarterly investment seminars. Everyone is eligible for a year-end merit bonus and profit-sharing of up to 7% of salary. Paralegals and staff are specially feted each year during a week-long celebration with door prizes including roundtrip airline tickets, TVs, and cash. All employees are also eligible to receive a gift from Tiffany & Co. after every five years of service.
A&B also gives out spot bonuses of up to $2,000 for things like a service contribution that significantly impacts the firm. A&B offers 90 days of maternity leave, as well as three weeks off for new dads -- and it reimburses up to $7,000 of adoption costs. Employees looking to give a little back can get 15 hours a year of paid time off for community service.
2. Bingham McCutchen
Average total pay: $228,851 For: Associate* Best companies rank: 30
Bring your friends to Bingham McCutchen. If landing a job with top pay isn't enough, the law firm's employees can collect up to $25,000 for helping colleagues get jobs there too.
Bingham's bonus bonanza rolls on. Early last year, the firm gave its associate attorneys merit pay between $7,500 and $35,000. A few months later, the firm handed out a special Spring Bonus of between $2,500 and $20,000. In 2010, Bingham paid out $9 million in associate bonuses alone.
For retirement, Bingham will contribute up to 12.5% of employees' compensation into a money-purchase pension plan. Its employees give plenty back, too. The firm's lawyers performed more than 57,000 hours of pro bono work in 2010. For animal-loving employees and partners, Bingham offers voluntary pet insurance at a group discounted rate.
1. Southern Ohio Medical Center
Average total pay: $490,647 For: Physician* Best companies rank: 36
How did a regional hospital network in the heart of Appalachian Ohio find its way to the top of our list of best paying companies? By offering strong pay to draw talented doctors, with an average salary of close to half a million dollars. Southern Ohio sweetens the pot by matching employees' 401(k) contributions 100% up to 2% of salary and by offering perks such as its SOMC Adventures, which include New York shopping sprees, Caribbean cruises, visits to Amish country, and dinner trips.
The company also pays generously for professional development as part of a grow-your-own philosophy: Southern Ohio reimburses tuition not only for employees, but also for their family members. Internal candidates always get first dibs on open positions for which they are qualified. The proof is in the personnel: 31 of the hospital's 32 directors rose up from hourly staff positions.