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/JWwzmdoLiSpic.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.
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/U3yg0qOFJgpic.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.
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After moving from Honduras to Austin in high school, Giselle Suazo Arriaga has accumulated years of dating experience in the capital city. And in that time, she and her friends observed what they call “Peter Pan syndrome” in the dating pool.
“They don't want to be ‘tied down,’ as they say because you're essentially in a playground. There are so many people in the city,” Arriaga said.
The 28-year-old who works as a marketing manager went on to say she’s been on dates with men in their 20s, 30s and 40s, but finds the same pattern plays out regardless of age. She's also been out with the so-called "tech bros," or those who Reddit and other parts of the Internet have described as men working for companies like Google or Tesla and have therefore become somewhat egotistical or arrogant.
“I try not to stereotype all tech bros,” Arriaga said. “But it's interesting how they continuously prove that there is a stereotype. Like, they uphold it, you know what I mean?”
Dating in Austin is a scam #atxlife #atxbars #atxtiktoks #austintiktok #datingtiktok #eastaustin
The migration of tech workers to Austin has resulted in some feeling unfavorable about the dating pool. Arriaga says tech workers, often consisting of young men earning impressive salaries, may exhibit the Peter Pan syndrome more commonly.
Anoush Stevenson with SpeedAustin Dating, which has matchmaking and speed dating services across the nation, says more men have expressed interest in their services as pandemic restrictions eased and Austin's tech scene continues to flourish. It's a trend that has created a more even ratio of men to women.
“It used to be more female heavy for us in Austin,” Stevenson said. “And I don't know if that's connected to the influx of tech workers now that there's a balancing for us in that there's as many guys if not more, signing up than women now.”
When it comes to dating apps, Stevenson said those can lead to frustration.
"People are, I think, just fed up with it," Stevenson said. "They just want to know, in a few minutes, is there an attraction? Is there a chemistry there?" She added that the speed dating events don't add pressure to what happens next after the date. Attendees are asked to write down whether they're interested in meeting that person again or not, and her team takes care of the rest.
Such a carefree experience hasn't been as common for Arriaga, and she's worked to try to find out people's intentions before agreeing to a date.
“I genuinely feel like people just want to stay single though,” Arriaga said. “I don't really find guys that are like, ‘I want a relationship right now.’”
Still, Arriaga is hopeful that she’ll eventually meet someone who’s compatible with her.
“I genuinely believe that there's someone out there for everyone, it just takes time to find them,” Arriaga said.
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It may be a hot summer but it can’t stop you from keeping cool at your favorite happy hour.
Here are some of Austin’s finest happy hour deals.
DRINK at Fareground | 111 Congress Ave.
This modern food hall-style eatery has six restaurants, two bars to choose from and happy hour on weekdays at DRINK. Drinks start at $4, with a wide selection of $5 beers, $6 cocktails and $7 wines.
Happy Hour: 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
Garage | 503 Colorado St.
Bougie, semi-underground speakeasy Garage is known for its hard-to-find location and retro interior. During happy hour, you can get some of its signature secret cocktails for just $6.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
House Wine | 408 Josephine St.
A self-proclaimed “unpretentious” wine bar, House Wine says it sources its bottles from small batch and boutique vineyards from around the world. Though you can get $2 off glasses or $6 bottles daily, House Wine has unique happy hour specials for each day of the week.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. daily, all day Wednesday
Irene’s | 506 West Ave.
Stopping for a quick drink during happy hour at popular brunch bar Irene’s will get you a free bag of popcorn! This aviator-esque bar offers $3 draft beers, $4 well drinks, $5 frozen cocktails or wine glasses and $6 snacks during happy hour.
Happy Hour: 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
Lou’s | 1900 E Cesar Chavez St. and 1608 Barton Springs Rd.
This roadside micro-chain eatery is a cozy place to stop for a burger and brew on a warm summer night. On weekdays you can get half off its classic burger, Lone Star brews and sangria—plus wine bottles on Tuesdays!
Happy Hour: 3-5 p.m. and 9-10 p.m. Monday-Friday
Péché | 208 W 4th St.
This downtown absinthe bar will also keep you well-fed with its French-inspired cuisine if you show up at the right time. The almost daily happy hour offers $6 drinks and half-off certain dishes.
Happy Hour: 4-7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, all night Sunday and Monday
Salty Sow | 1917 Manor Rd.
Head to Salty Sow for some New American food in the Cherrywood neighborhood. For two hours every day, you can get $2 off cocktails and beer, $24 select wine bottles and $6 by the glass, $4-6 appetizers and $7 honey rosemary fried chicken.
Happy Hour: 4:30-6:30 p.m. daily
Second Bar + Kitchen | 3121 Palm Way
Located inside the North Austin Archer Hotel, happy hour at Second Bar + Kitchen has big yields with $5 cocktails, wine glasses and beers; $4.50-$7 appetizers and discounted pizzas.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday
Sour Duck Market | 1814 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
You can get 20% off your entire order during happy hour at Sour Duck Market. You read that right—20% off three days of the week.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday
Stagger Lee | 87 Rainey St.
This Rainey Street favorite bar slings $3 domestic beers, $3 wells and $5 frozen margaritas or wine by the glass every day of the week.
Happy Hour: 3-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
Uncle Nicky's | 4222 Duval St.
Get your happy hour on early at Uncle Nicky’s Italian Bistro every day from 2-5 p.m.—$2-3 beers, $5 glasses of wine, $6 spritzes, $2 disco lemonade shots or a $25 wine and cheese plate.
Happy Hour: 2-5 p.m. daily