Employers are also asked to complete a questionnaire that examines the company's employee procedures and policies.
Questions range from workplace diversity to health-care coverage, to recycling programs, to allotted vacation time and sick days.
"It's really, 'Are the people here thoroughly engaged in our mission? Are they happy here?'" Guyette said.
Marilyn Baish, director of wellness and benefits at ACS, agreed.
"We don't have the funds [for consulting firms]," said Baish. "What we get for doing this is we get a report back. It gives us some information on where we scored high and low, and what we need to work on."
Baish added that the anonymity of the employee survey is the most useful aspect to help define ACS' human resources practices because it allows for a more honest evaluation.
Guyette said there's a correlation between having good human resources practices and employee retention. She said that many nonprofits have a steady turnover rate in staff because the work can be very demanding.
"There can be a significant burnout factor, but we don't experience that. People here are united by the mission. They're committed. We just don't have the turnover you'd expect," she said.
Guyette added that receiving the award is useful as a recruiting tool, and it is a selling point to new applicants, as well as being a morale boost to current employees.
"Our reputation is all we have," she said. "We don't sell a product, we have a reputation. This is one way to demonstrate that."
The goal of the "Best Companies" ranking, according to NYS-SHRM chairperson Barry Manus, is not just to recognize employers that have noble human resources practices, but to gain other companies' interest in improving their own workplace environments.
"We know that happier employees are more productive employees, and it improves the company's bottom line," Manus said.
Manus said that there are many consulting firms that could provide a similar service, but with the only cost involved being the sliding scale entry fee, the "Best Companies" competition is an inexpensive way to obtain a valuable service.
"If an individual company were to employ a consultant, it would cost thousands of dollars," Manus said.
For information, or to register for the 2010 competition, go to bestcompaniesny.com.