Energy companies listed among best employers

At work: energy companies among best places to work

Independent oil and gas companies are among the 100 best places to work in the US, according to an annual survey published by Fortune magazine.

Coming in at number 7 on the list - the highest ranked energy company of the bunch - was "Best Company" newcomer Hilcorp Energy.

The Houston-based producer was lauded for an unusual perk in 2010 that promised every employee a check for $100,000 if the company doubles its production rate and reserves by 2015.

Hilcorp had earlier met another goal and given 400 employees with $50,000 towards a new car.

With just over 1000 employees, Hilcorp was the smallest company in the top 10 overall but was also one of the fastest growing, swelling its employee ranks by an impressive 47.7%. It suffered turnover of just 3.8%.

(Click here to see the full list.)

Further down the list at numbers 26 and 27, respectively, were Oklahoma City-based outfits Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy.

Chesapeake, the largest energy firm on the list with more than 13,200 employees, got high marks for a "generous" benefits scheme that included more than $8 million in "safety bonuses" paid out in 2011 to more than 6000 employees rewarding safe work practises.

While Chesapeake saw significant job growth at 26.1%, it also got hit by 14.5% turnover rate - the largest of any energy company on the list. The company had a rough year in 2012 amid low gas prices and heated controversy surrounding its flamboyant chief executive, Aubrey McClendon. Indeed, a separate list published by Bloomberg named McClendon as the second worst chief executive of the year. Still, Chesapeake added 2740 new employees last year.

On the other hand, Fortune praised Devon chief executive John Richels for his accessibility and personal contact with employees. Richels often calls his employees or sends them personalised notes to thank them for a job well done and regularly hosts employee luncheons, according to Fortune. That presumably has helped keep Devon's turnover rate at a relatively low 5.6%.

Chesapeake ranked number 18 on last year's list and Devon moved up one spot from number 28 a year ago.

EOG Resources, among the most admired onshore explorers, registered at number 72 on Fortune's list, its same position as last year. Fortune was impressed with EOG's practise of making all employees shareholder in the firm. The company's stock has risen by 500% in the last decade to $120, bringing windfalls to every pay level.

Diversity in the workplace was one area in which the listed oil and gas companies were found lacking. EOG led the pack with minorities making up 17% of its staff. Others fell closely in line, with Chesapeake on 16%, Hilcorp on 15% and Devon on 13%.

EOG also employed the most women, who made up 34% of the company's employees. Devon employed the second most in the group with 30%, Hilcorp came in at 23% and Chesapeake at 21%.

Hilcorp was the only company among the four that does not have a non-discrimination policy in place that includes sexual orientation.

Fortune compiled the list in partnership with the Great Place to Work Institute, a global research and consulting firm. They surveyed 277,000 employees from 259 different companies.

Part of the survey asked questions related to attitudes about management's credibility, job satisfaction, and camaraderie. Another section gauges pay and benefit programmes, hiring practises, training and diversity efforts, among other things.

Other companies of note included pipeline operator San Antonio-based NuStar Energy at number 38 (down from number 15 a year ago) and Colorado-based engineering and construction firm CH2M Hill, with ranked number 100 in its debut on the list.

Consulting firm Deloitte ranked number 47.

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