A few weeks ago, I took a Thursday and Friday off work to travel to Ann Arbor to visit my brother, who had been out of state all summer on an internship. I count myself fortunate that I work for a company that allows a flexible work schedule for its employees. On top of the typical benefits package — medical, dental, vision, 401K — The NEWS’ parent company, BNP Media, offers employees paid vacation, maternity leave, flexible spending accounts, life insurance, long- and short-term disability, and an employee assistance program with guidance resources, such as counseling and access to legal and financial specialists, to name a few.

According to Glassdoor, about 57 percent of people report that benefits and perks are among their top considerations when accepting a job. Because of this job market trend, employers are getting creative in their benefit offerings in order to recruit and retain top talent.

For example, Amazon tested a 30-hour workweek last year, Airbnb gives employees an annual $2,000 stipend to travel, and Netflix is now offering one year of parental leave to both salaried and hourly employees. These incentives are all designed to keep employees happy and invested in the companies they work for. And while HVAC contractors may not be able to offer 30-hour work weeks or flexible schedules, they can be creative in many other ways, including their benefits packages.

I’m bringing up the topic of keeping employees happy because, once again, The NEWS is accepting nominations for its annual Best Contractor to Work For contest. Each year, The NEWS’ editors honor great companies who have done a phenomenal job when it comes to taking care of their employees and truly making their businesses the best places to work.

Companies must be nominated by their employees. When they submit their nominations, employees are asked a variety of questions ranging from how much training the company does to the benefits it offers its employees to community activities and donations. We then score the submissions and choose four winners to represent four regions spread throughout the U.S.

There are several advantages to being named a Best Contractor to Work for by The NEWS. One of which is recruiting new talent amidst a growing labor shortage. It’s a real challenge to attain, train, and retain young talent, but who doesn’t want to work for the a contractor recognized by a national publication as one of the best in the industry?

So, are you an employee who believes your work environment encourages growth, opportunity, recognition, education, and a winning attitude for all employees? If so, then I encourage you to nominate your company as a 2017 Best Contractor to Work For.

To enter the contest, visit achrnews.com/bestcontractor and click, ‘Submit Your Nomination,’ to create an account. If you’ve already created an account from a previous contest, simply log in. Once you’ve signed up, answer all the questions and click “submit.” Be sure to share why the contracting company you work for should be named the best around. It only takes a few minutes. Plus, what better way to suck up to the boss than to let him or her know you were the one who nominated the company for the award?

The contest is now open, and runs through Nov. 22. The winners will be announced and featured in the Jan. 22, 2018, issue of The NEWS, which will be distributed on the floor of the 2018 AHR Expo in Chicago. Four U.S. contractors will be chosen to represent the best of the best. For more information about the contest, visit www.achrnews.com/bestcontractor.