How does one judge the overall health of a business?

In these Wall Street-centric days, business success or failure is almost always determined by the amount of a monetary figure such as sales, revenue, earnings, EBITDA, etc. No doubt, a strong earnings sheet is a major part of the equation, but should it be all that is examined? Is there more to a successfully run enterprise than bottom-line results?

Looking beyond the numbers, one way to determine if a business is healthy as well as monetarily successful is to ask the people who know it best—its employees. Simply put, are your workers happy and proud to be working for your company? Consider the question a barometer of sorts—few businesses survive long-term if its personnel are in continuous flux because stress, lack of recognition, no opportunity for advancement and the host of other factors that go into creating a hostile work environment.

So, you may ask, what’s needed to foster a positive workplace in the casino gaming industry? What does it take to create happy and satisfied workers in the always hectic modern gaming environment? Finding answers to these questions was one of the goals of the Best Casinos to Work For 2016 contest, conducted byCasino Journal and the Best Companies Group. Gaming properties from across North America were invited to enter the competition, in which their employees would fill out a series of questionnaires and surveys to determine which were considered top workplace environments, and then they would be recognized for having such. Not surprisingly, companies that scored highest featured employee environments that emphasized work-life balance, played a role in worker lives beyond the office and also found ways to interject fun into the workplace. Also worthy of note is that all the top-ranked enterprises are involved in tribal gaming, a reflection of the emphasis these operations place on community and jobs.    

Below you will find profiles of the top five point earners from the contest, all of which richly deserve the recognition of being the Best Casinos to Work for in North America:

1. HARRAH’S RESORT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Location:  Valley Center, Calif.

Operator:Caesars Entertainment

Owner:Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians

Number of employees:1,468

Harrah’s Resort Southern California, formerly known as Harrah’s Rincon, is a 1.2 million-square-foot all-season casino and resort featuring a top notch gaming floor, unique dining destinations and versatile outdoor space, with a trifecta of pools and 21 poolside cabanas. Employees at the property are offered a wide variety of activities to relieve stress and promote fun. For example, the facility hosts regular “Buzz Sessions,” group meetings to let workers know what is happening on the property and to recognize employee achievements. Each of these sessions ends with a high-energy activity that “inspires grownups to play.” Harrah’s Resort also offers monthly contests on topics such as photography and trivia in which employees can participate for prizes. The property also sponsors a number of clubs offering after-work activities such as walking, softball, cycling, soccer, surfing and hiking, all of which dovetail nicely into the company’s Wellness Rewards program that promotes better employee health.  

In terms of employee recognition and appreciation, Harrah’s Resort offers a number of programs tied into its Total Rewards bonus system. For example, workers can submit people they think are worthy of employee/supervisor/manager of the month; a committee reviews the nominees and winners receive 10,000 Total Rewards credits ($250 value). There is also a Chairman’s Award in which workers are recognized for topics such as service with passion, caring, integrity, culture and diversity. Winners are selected by the CEO and receive 100,000 Total Rewards credits ($2,500 value).

Harrah’s resort also offers employees a chance to give back to the community with its HERO Voluteer Program and CODEGreen environmental initiatives.  

2. FOUR WINDS CASINO RESORTS

Location: Michigan

Owner/operator:Pokagon band of Potawatomi Indians

Number of employees: 2,077

Four Winds Casinos are premier gaming destinations with three beautiful properties in southwest Michigan. The company’s New Buffalo resort boasts 3,000 slots, over 60 table games including a high limit area and 415 hotel rooms. Silver Creek Event Center at Four Winds New Buffalo is a multi-purpose entertainment and event space. Four Winds Hartford hosts over 550 of the latest slots, nine table games and Timbers Fast Food & Deli. Four Winds Dowagiac has 300 slots and five table games.

Employees at Four Winds Casino Resorts are offered a number of perks including the ACES Award Program, a secret shop program designed to monetarily reward and recognize employees who deliver exceptional service. The company also offers Quarterly Employee Appreciation Days that include a gift distribution as well as a special cafeteria menu and cash prize raffles. Four Winds has a Perfect Attendance Program in place which is conducted quarterly and recognizes those employees who have achieved perfect attendance by awarding them an additional PTO day and by publishing employee names in the company newsletter.

Stress relievers at Four Winds include a yearly Halloween contest with cash prizes, jersey weekends during the football season and a softball league.

3. FIREKEEPERS CASINO HOTEL

Location: Battle Creek, Mich.

Owner/operator:Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi

Number of Employees: 1,629

FireKeepers Casino Hotel features an 111,700-square-foot gaming floor with 2,900 slot machines, 70 table games, a live poker room and bingo room. FireKeepers also offers a Four Diamond resort-style hotel with 242 guest rooms, and a functional multi-purpose event center capable of seating up to 2,000 guests. Guests can enjoy six distinctive dinning destinations and multiple lounges and entertainment venues.

FireKeepers recognizes hard working employees in a number of unique ways. Keeper of the Month is a program where six team members are recognized based on peer nomination. Winners receive $100 cash, $100 property gift certificate and special parking privileges. They are also eligible for Keeper of the Quarter recognition where they can win again. The property also offers a Secret Shopper Program where employees who have shopped at the facility and meet certain criteria receive free team member dining for a month, recognition in the company newsletter and a gift certificate. Workers can participate in an incentive program based on their tenure. For every year of service a team member can earn a bonus ranging from $250 to $1,000.

FireKeepers employees also qualify for incentive pay, career opportunities with merit increases and a twice-a-year team member rally that includes an incentive distribution. To keep workers happy and as stress free as possible, FireKeepers offers pre-shift stretching to promote safety awareness and build energy for the upcoming workday, a full-time masseuse in the team member dining room and departmental pot lucks and food events to develop camaraderie and increase positive morale.

For team members interested in public service, FireKeepers offers participation in food drives; domestic violence programs; and its Angel Tree charity.

4. SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN GAMING AUTHORITY

Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Number of employees: 1,876

The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) employs 1,200 First Nations employees. The group’s mission is to strengthen the lives of First Nations people through employment, economic growth, positive community relations and achieving financial self-reliance. Its vision is to deliver sustainable net income and employment opportunities to support First Nations development in Saskatchewan.

SIGA competes against a variety of gaming and entertainment products for consumer’s disposable income. SIGA currently operates six Saskatchewan-based tribal gaming properties: The Bear Claw Casino & Hotel, Dakota Dunes Casino, Gold Eagle Casino, Living Sky Casino, Northern Lights Casino and Painted Hand Casino. SIGA’s value proposition is based on offering an entertainment experience, a quality value dining experience, recognition and appreciation and the facilities that are memorable with convenient services.

SIGA recognizes significant employee contributions through a number of programs. Long Service Awards are presented annually and based on an employee’s years of service in the organization. Items such as a SIGA personalized watch and ring, hand crafted star blankets, First Nations print and gift cards are awarded to employees. The Above and Beyond award is presented to one department per site per fiscal year who provides outstanding services benefiting co-workers and/or patrons of SIGA, while exceeding the performance standards of the job duties. The Community Involvement Award is presented to one employee per site per year who is committed and actively involved in their community. Recipients of this award are based on recommendations from other employees.

SIGA also offers various activities to keep employees happy and involved. For example, it holds annual team building events for each department to promote fun and create team moral. Some of the events include: Glow curling, team cooking, pottery, amazing race, minute to win it and many other unique events. The company also sponsors the SIGA Cup of Hockey, Golf and Soft Ball in which one of the group’s locations hosts these events and employees participating are given one paid day off to attend.  Teams are made up of a mixture of employees from each site. In addition, the SIGA Long Runners Committee participates in running, walking, swimming, yoga and other activities people enjoy. The committee’s goal is to motivate SIGA staff and their families to be active and live healthy.

5. WIND CREEK HOSPITALITY

Location: Alabama

Owner/operator: Poarch Band of Creek Indians

Number of employees: 2,399

Wind Creek Hospitality is comprised of three gaming properties in the state of Alabama. Wind Creek Atmore features a hotel with 236 rooms and the amenities, including 24 hour room service, spa and a wide variety of dining options. The 57,000-square-foot casino offers 1,700 games. Wind Creek Atmore also has a bowling alley, arcade and an eight-screen state of the art digital cinema.

Wind Creek Wetumpka offers 283 hotel rooms and an 85,000-square-foot gaming floor with over 2,500 slots with a shark tank as a centerpiece. Wind Creek Wetumka offers a wide variety of dining options.

Creek Casino Montgomery has 46,000 square feet of gaming space and offers over 2,000 games. Construction is currently underway to add hotel and additional dining options for guests.

Wind Creek Hospitality is a values-based organization, operating under a unique set of values. Employees deliver a unique experience along with genuine attentiveness to every guest. These team members are recognized through quarterly performance bonuses and employee recognition programs. There is also a Best of the Best award that is handed out quarterly, as well as the yearly President’s 3.3 award.

Wind Creek is a big believer in worker health and has a company-wide employee wellness program with a trainer located at each site and fitness centers free to employees. The company also offers stress management classes.