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After an especially turbulent year for working professionals, some workplaces went above and beyond to keep their employees happy when it seemed like the world was ending. As it turns out, Austin has a lot of great places to work.
Inc.'s annual Best Workplaces list highlighted 11 Austin-based companies, more than any other city in Texas, as employee-driven. Out of 429 companies Inc. awarded across the U.S., here are the "2021 Best Workplaces" in Austin.
Marking seven consecutive years being honored on the list, management consulting firm 9Gauge Partners once again made the list for its dedication to employees. Once the pandemic hit, 9Gauge continued to hold weekly interactive video calls to foster connections and still holds employee interviews every two-to-six months to gauge satisfaction. 9Gauge says they put employees "first in every business decision."
Austin-based SaaS, or software as a service, provider AgileAssets sees diversity as one of its biggest strengths and boasts a team brought together from 20 countries, 12 languages and five continents. The company was recognized with an "Enduring Impact" award for its progressive policies on healthcare, including maternity and paternity leave for new parents, and in-house self-care classes so employees can learn skills to be their most zen selves.
Proving that "Happier, healthier employees are a bedrock" of success, AlertMedia used the pandemic to rethink what company culture should mean. On top of trying to keep employees connected through frequent Zoom meetings when working from home, AlertMedia incentivized staff to take breaks for mental and physical health. The company also tried to pay it forward to the community in a hard time, donating "time and treasure" to local businesses.
Decent is not only providing "affordable" health insurance plans to small Texas businesses, they also try to go above and beyond to keep employees happy, healthy and well-traveled. On each employee's first anniversary at the company, they receive a $1,500 travel voucher and a poster with notes of love from all their fellow employees. They show they care about employees—even finding housing for those without power during the winter storm.
As a completely remote company, Fourlane strives to keep employees connected even when they are apart. The company claims to operate on core values of open communication and transparency, with a goal to "create a culture where everyone feels heard and valued." To accomplish that, Fourlane holds frequent open-agenda meetings led by employees and recognizes exceptional work with awards throughout the year.
Made In Cookware
We're beyond excited to announce Made In is one of @Inc’s Best Workplaces of— Made In Cookware (@madeincookware) May 12, 2021
2021! Grateful for this incredible team we get to work with everyday! Congratulations to all of the #IncBestWorkplaces winners! https://t.co/JWwzmdoLiS pic.twitter.com/RHh27v0G5Y
Mutual respect is the name of the game at Made In Cookware, which says it shares a belief that "that we should be able to share a meal with anyone we work with, even after a hard day," and that includes everyone they work with. That belief has led to the creation of the Southern Smoke Emergency Relief Fund, which supports hospitality workers, and honors employees with peer-nominated spotlight awards.
Embracing the new hybrid of office and work-from-home, employees, marketing and digital communications organization Mighty Citizen says it is transparent by involving staff in setting quarterly goals and not hiding anything on the business end. With extensive benefits and paid parental leave, the company claims to keep employees at the front of decision-making.
Excited to announce that @OJOLabs has been named one of @Inc’s Best Workplaces of 2021! See the full list of honorees here: https://t.co/A92liTmgpd #IncBestWorkplaces #hiring pic.twitter.com/a4UlcEM9kk— OJO Labs (@ojolabs) May 12, 2021
Using artificial intelligence to connect people to their dream homes, OJO Labs says they put people first and hire employees who are mindful about the current social sphere. OJO is helping the community bridge the inequality gap by helping first-time Black and Latino homebuyers but it is helping employees by regularly revisiting company policies to maintain flexibility and extending breaks for employees during a hard year.
Protective intelligence software company Ontic tried to make the transition to the new normal by giving employees a stipend to perfect their home offices, hand-delivering home care packages and hosting virtual activities that came as close to the real thing as possible.
Digital media sales and services company Q1 Media is all about working hard and playing harder. For employees, hard work means bonuses, celebrations, happy hours (virtual for now) and trips to Vegas once it is safe. As Q1 says, "We put our people first, and the rest follows."
Some things never change. Getting named to #IncBestWorkplaces is one of them.— The Zebra (@TheZebraCo) May 12, 2021
Our #AllStripesWelcome workplace is on @Inc's list for the fourth consecutive year!
🏆🏆🏆🏆 ---> https://t.co/U3yg0qOFJg pic.twitter.com/4Somm32oNp
Not only does The Zebra love its employees, it also loves their furry friends. In addition to the five-month paid parental leave, $100 per month wellness stipend, unlimited PTO and employee-led resource groups, the independent insurance-comparison site offered employees a $300 stipend to welcome a new adoptable friend into their homes early on in the pandemic.
Texas voters are split on whether Gov. Greg Abbott should run for a third term and whether Matthew McConaughey should run at all. But Democrats are clear: they want to see Beto O'Rourke on the ballot.
These are the findings of a Quinnipiac University poll of registered voters released this week.
Abbott and McConaughey received the highest favorability ratings of the elected officials, candidates and potential candidates, according to the Quinnipiac poll.
- Abbott: 49%
- McConaughey: 42%
- O'Rourke: 34%
- Former Texas GOP Chair Allen West: 25%
- Former Texas senator and Republican challenger Don Huffines: 8%
Overall, 48% say Abbott does not deserve to be reelected to a third term compared to 46% who say he does. "A Trump favorite in a state that is turning less red in recent election cycles, Abbott has a decent but in no way overwhelming grasp on reelection," Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy said in a press release.
Abbott, McConaughey and Beto O'Rourke could vie for governor in 2022. (Office of the Texas Governor)
Voters are also divided on Matthew McConaughey, who is reportedly considering a gubernatorial run. Forty-one percent of voters say they would like to see him run, compared to 47% who say they wouldn't.
The poll found that Democrats and Independents favor the Oscar-winning Austinite, whose party affiliation is unclear. Forty-seven percent of Democrats would like to see him run, compared to 43% who wouldn't. Forty-four percent of Independents would, compared to 43% who wouldn't. Republicans, on the other hand, say 60%-29% they would not like to see him run.
Another possible candidate is former U.S. Representative and presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke, who is also reportedly mulling a bid. Overall voters say 52%-41% they would not like to see him run for governor. But 77% of Democrats and 50% of Independents would, according to the poll.
"McConaughey and O'Rourke may still be on the fence, but their numbers suggest they have the attention of voters," Malloy said in the same release.
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Austinites will soon be able to train like some of Hollywood's biggest stars as F45, a fitness franchise backed by major celebs, like Mark Wahlberg and David Beckham, is on its way to Austin.
F45 listed Austin as the location of its corporate headquarters in a June 21 federal filing—a big shift for the California company. The fitness franchise is preparing for its initial public offering, which will be as an Austin-based company.
F45 will be one of many California companies—Tesla, Oracle and Samsung—that have recently expanded in the Capital City. The company has several famous investors on its side—famed basketball player Earvin "Magic" Johnson and golfer Greg Norman in addition to Wahlberg and Beckham.
The fitness company is opening a 44,000-square-foot headquarters, located at Penn Field on 801 Barton Springs Road, with a lease running through 2029. F45 was one of the early adopters of Austin-based real estate-technology platform AnthemIQ, helping tenants find commercial real estate.
F45 focuses on one-on-one 45-minute workouts, which patrons watch on in-studio displays. With 2,247 franchise agreements spanning across 63 countries, F45 also has offices in Australia and England.
"We believe this flexibility will enable us to capitalize on our estimated long-term global opportunity of over 23,000 studios," the company said in its filing.
The greater Austin area already has 11 F45 locations, which take up 1,600 square feet of space each.
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The staffers are coming! Texas Lege staffers turn to Twitter after special session announcement, defunding
Texas Legislature staff members have taken to social media to raise awareness—and also just air their misfortunes—following the summer special session announcement and their own defunding.
In a game-seven-type move by Texas Democrats, the 87th Texas Legislative session was capped off by a last-minute walkout to avoid a final vote on a bill that would add restrictions to voting.
Needless to say, Gov. Greg Abbott—who cheerleaded the bill throughout the legislative session—was not thrilled.
Not up to date on your Texas Lege drama? Abbott was pointing to when former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis staged a dramatic hours-long filibuster over a 2013 abortion bill, which the public gallery aided. The "story" Abbott is referring to ended with him and other prominent conservatives sweeping the 2014 statewide election and the bill passing in a special session.
According to Abbott, the regular session centered around supporting "hardworking Texans and building a state that is safer, freer, healthier, and more prosperous."
However, the two items deemed at the top of Abbott's wish list for this session—election integrity and bail reform—did not reach his desk at the end of the session, both championed by Abbott to be "must-pass emergency items."
"It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither reached my desk," Abbott said in a statement. "Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas, which is why these items, along with other priority items, will be added to the special session agenda."
Abbott said he expected lawmakers to work out their differences prior to the special session and continue to pass other emergency items and priority legislation.
So, everything is cool, right? No worries?
Hours before the no vote, as the clock ran out on the bill that he championed, Abbott tweeted that he would veto funding for the entire state legislative branch. The decision would impact not only Texas lawmakers but their staff and aides. "No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities," Abbott tweeted May 31.
I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay… https://t.co/KNyuNvxP55— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott)1622484820.0
With pay, health insurance and other support for staffers on the line, the threats became a reality on June 18 with an official veto of the funds from Abbott.
The veto effectively nixes all funding for the legislative branch.
"Texans don't run from a legislative fight and we don't walk away from an unfinished business," Abbott wrote in the veto. "Funding should not be provided for those who quit their job early, leaving their state with unfinished business and exposing taxpayers to higher costs for an additional legislative session."
However, questions have been brought up over the constitutionality of the veto itself. Section 24 of the Texas Constitution makes not paying members of the legislature illegal.
The special session is set to begin July 8. So, what does this mean for lawmakers, staffers and aides?
No pay, no insurance... and Twitter followers?
The staffers took their final stand on Twitter where they aired their grievances with the situation and asked for followers to increase their footprint.
Meet Jen Ramos, a staff member for Texas State Senator Judith Zaffarini—and also defunded by Abbott.
My name is Jen. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott. Apparently now I’m supposed to ask for Tw… https://t.co/pteKADP3Hj— Jen Ramos ✨ (@Jen Ramos ✨)1624466531.0
And she's not alone. Use the hashtag #txlege and you'll find other similar messages online, like Camille's and Hector's and more.
My name is Camille, my friends call me Cam or Cammie. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott. And… https://t.co/mOvcjxTiUL— Camille Lasin (@Camille Lasin)1624474153.0
My name is Hector. I’m one of the #txlege staffers defunded by Greg Abbott and who had to deal with elections stuff… https://t.co/88PINm9KCv— Hector 🏙🤠 (@Hector 🏙🤠)1624466987.0
My name is Jake Salinas. I'm the TX Dem that saved the film industry in TX and broke quorum on SB7 Now our Gov h… https://t.co/PLf9ScA4Ev— Jake Salinas (@Jake Salinas)1624464237.0
It's unclear whether Abbott and other prominent Republican lawmakers will come together with Democrats to overturn the veto and continue providing insurance and regular pay for lawmakers, staffers and aides.