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Posted: January 18, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Newton has 5 of Fortune's Top 100 workplaces

Newton County residents looking for a great place to work locally may want to consider the five companies that garnered spots on the 2014 list of FORTUNE Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

General Mills, Darden Restaurants, Publix Super Markets, Edward Jones and Quik Trip, which all have locations in Newton County, joined 95 other global and national corporations in the annual survey of employee satisfaction.

General Mills has a cereal production plant off Ga. Highway 142, Publix has a supermarket at the intersection of Brown Bridge and Salem roads, and Longhorn Steakhouse off U.S. Highway 278 is the lone local Darden franchise.

The rankings are compiled annually by the company Great Rated!, which ranks companies in six categories based on anonymous surveys of employees. The categories include challenges, atmosphere, rewards, pride, communication and bosses.

Edward Jones (ranked 4)

The gold standard among companies with a local presence, Edward Jones has been ranked in the top 100 every year since 1999, with the exception of 2005, and ranked No. 1 in 2002 and 2003 and No. 2 in 2009 and 2010.

Headquartered in St. Louis and employing 38,015, Edward Jones is beloved by employees because of the autonomy allowed. Most of the company’s 12,000 financial advisers operate in their own offices with an office administrator, but are supported by corporate offices as well as "a contingent of staff who work from home," according to Great Rated!

Of the 1,186 employees surveyed, a vast majority reported a friendly workplace and caring company extending even to senior management, and they said they receive the training and resources needed to complete their jobs.

"Every time I think of something that needs improvement, it gets fixed," an employee told Great Rated!

QuikTrip (48)

Ranked in the top 100 every year since 2003, QuikTrip is known as one of the best convenience-store franchises in the nation for its customer service. The 1,547 employees surveyed said employees get the same good treatment from the company.

Employee are proud to work at QuikTrip and look forward to coming to work and say the job is about "much more than simply selling snacks and drinks"; it’s about serving customer needs.

The company has 330 employees with more than 20 years of service with the company, and the full-time turnover rate is less than 10 percent.

Despite the 24/7 schedule of QuikTrip stores, which can be tiring and is often thought of as dangerous because of late-night crimes, employees said they were able to take time off when needed and worked in a safe environment. Training is also prevalent, with on-site college courses being offered and up to $4,400 of tuition reimbursement available to full-time and part-time employees.

General Mills (64)

A perennially high-ranking company, General Mills made a return to the list after being left off last year. The company has been ranked a Top 100 company 11 times since 1998.

Employing 41,000 people worldwide, the company has an extensive training program and "provides mentoring and networking groups" through its locations to be welcoming and to help people develop their careers, according to Great Rated!’s write-up.

"The people are great," one employee said in a Great Rated! survey. "Even though it’s a big company, it still feels like a family, and I genuinely care about my co-workers."

The company also got high marks among the 979 employees surveyed for its commitment to healthy products and giving back to the communities where its plants are located. Many Covington nonprofits have benefited from the generosity of the General Mills Foundation.

Darden Restaurants (74)

Ranked every year since 2011, Darden scored highest in its atmosphere, as employees said the "friendly workplace culture" is a plus.

"I am one of the newest members on the team," one employee told Great Rated!, noting how welcoming co-workers were during the initial training process. "I truly feel like a valued employee already."

New hires get a week of comprehensive training, and expectations are made clear across the restaurant company’s 2,100 locations, which include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s and Yard House eateries.

Flexible scheduling and health benefits were listed as big positives among the 713 employees surveyed, though health-care reform has forced restaurants to reevaluate employee models.

"Another great thing that stood out to me was the wonderful benefits for even part-time employees that begin on day one of working here. You can’t find that at many waitressing jobs," the same employee quote above said.

Publix Super Markets (75)

The lone newcomer to the list, Publix has 1,100 stores in six Southern states and employs more than 157,000 people, most of whom own company stock, according to Great Rated!

The company focuses on treating employees well – including health care, retirement, paid vacations and tuition reimbursement – and expecting those employees to treat customers well.

"We extend compassion, courtesy and service, and we value the customer’s time, while being friendly and competent," one employee told Great Rated!, which took 1,040 employee surveys for Publix.

The company also contributes to community causes, including United Way, and employees volunteer with groups such as the Boy Scouts and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

For more on each of these companies, visit us.greatrated.com/2014-fortune-100-best-companies-to-work-for-list.

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