Great Places to Work
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Connecticut employees: 670
Business type: Data collection
Why is it a great place to work? No such thing as a free lunch, right? Wrong. FactSet not only provides free lunch Monday through Thursday, but has free beverages and snacks available all day. Employees at its Norwalk world headquarters also enjoy a fitness center, car care, shoe shine and repair as well as a relaxed work environment, three weeks of vacation in the first year of employment, and comprehensive health, dental and vision care for employees, their partners and dependents almost entirely covered by the company. It all obviously works—the information-collection company currently has a retention rate of around 90 percent. FactSet also encourages all employees to get CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) certification, with reimbursement for certain expenses involved with taking the rigorous three-year exams, and bonuses of $2,500 to $10,000 for passing certain levels. The company has been experiencing impressive growth, so not only are new employees being brought in and trained on a steady basis, but advancement opportunities are plentiful for long-term employees.
Stamford and Trumbull
Connecticut employees: 860
Business type: Market research
Why is it a great place to work? Although employees receive comparatively high compensation, excellent benefits and ample time off, Gartner has earned its positive reputation by being a place that hires “the best and brightest,” and thus created a stable, satisfying professional working environment. In addition to across-the-board high IQs, the market research company is known as a well-structured organization with strong leadership, little deadwood and clearly defined career paths—the kind of characteristics valued by those who are career-driven. Flex time and telecommuting are also part of the package, amplified by the freedom allowed employees by most managers to accomplish their tasks. Also, due to the multitude of other companies with which Gartner works (over 60,000 in 80 countries) and its own growing workforce, employees are constantly exposed to the latest trends in information technology, allowing them to better develop professionally—the company’s chief financial officer, head of human resources and top executives in charge of sales and research all joined the company in entry-level positions.
Connecticut employees: 1,362
Business type: Hospital
Why is it a great place to work? Considering how fickle trends and business practices in health care can be, it’s remarkable that Griffin Hospital was recognized by Fortune as a top work place for 10 years straight; it also has a retention rate of 94 percent, with the average Griffin career running about a decade. Seventy percent of employees live in the Valley or surrounding towns, so there’s always a chance that care may be needed for a friend, neighbor or family member, and as such, Griffin has become renowned for its patient-first approach. That health-conscious attitude has extended inward to the staff, who through the WINFIT wellness program are encouraged to avail themselves of benefits offered by the hospital such as free chair massages and relaxation sessions or use of the fitness center. Employees also receive regular recognition courtesy of Griffin’s “I Take It Personally” program, a monthly award that includes a special celebration and cash award, plus eligibility for becoming employee of the year, who gets $1,000 and a reserved parking spot. Monetary incentives are also presented for reaching departmental and institutional goals.
Connecticut employees: 800
Business type: Toys
Why is it a great place to work? The name LEGO is a contraction of the Danish words “Leg godt,” which mean “play well,” and that’s the philosophy at the North American headquarters. In addition to a new fitness center—where employees can take yoga, self-defense or Zumba classes—there are a putting green, beach volleyball and basketball courts, walking trails and an outdoor patio. The company also offers massages and a Stress Free Day, when employees can watch movies or get manicures, plus there is an annual family “brick-nic,” when employees can bring family members to the office. More playing well: Loose LEGO bricks are everywhere in the building, and there’s a company store where employees receive a 50 percent discount on all LEGO products. Not surprisingly, the company has 127 employees who’ve been there over a decade and 74 others who have been on the job for more than 20 years. And after contracting earlier this decade, LEGO is expanding its operations in Enfield, and will soon add new office space—and employees—as well.
Connecticut employees: 80
Business type: Specialty fibers
Why is it a great place to work? It’s a fairly common aspiration for anyone who is serious about his or her career to work in an optimal work environment. Nufern’s headquarters is located in a state-of-the-art facility specifically devoted to manufacturing optical fibers, small industrial lasers and other related products, and features some of the most talented scientists, engineers, chemists and glass makers in the nation. It’s an “open-door, open-slate” environment where innovation is encouraged, making for a fast-paced and creative atmosphere—if anyone has a good idea, it’s usually easy to get a go-ahead to develop it, which can often lead to professionally satisfying results. Even though the company is currently in a growth phase and new employment opportunities are available, 20 percent of the employees have been with the company since it was founded in 2000. Nufern regularly gives out financial incentives to those who are able to obtain patents for their innovations, and also offers a competitive benefits package, a generous 401K program and even discounts from local businesses.
Connecticut employees: 54
Business type: Musical instruments
Why is it a great place to work? Ovation is one of the more unusual manufacturing facilities in the state in that there are no loud production lines or seemingly endless (and mindless) task repetition. They custom build Ovation, Guild and Hamer USA guitars, which means that they blend advanced technology (like computer-automated cutting machinery and lasers) with traditional hand craftsmanship, which allows for a lot of artistic creativity and self expression. The New Hartford facility is a former 19th-century brick mill with lots of big windows and natural light that’s been completely refurbished and is now reminiscent of artists’ lofts. It’s a perfect place for endorsing artists like Richie Havens to stop by and play impromptu concerts—a good way to break up the workday that doesn’t happen at most offices. Speaking of breaks, Ovation shuts down for a few weeks during the summer and through the winter holidays so employees can enjoy substantial blocks of vacation time. Turnover is low, and the average tenure is 18 years—a substantial run of which any artist would be proud.
People’s United Bank
Bridgeport (168 branches)
Connecticut employees: 2,300
Business type: Banking Services
Why is it a great place to work? With its employees spread out at 168 locations across the state, it can be a challenge for an operation like People’s to foster an atmosphere that many would consider among the best in banking. Yet between the comprehensive company-wide benefits, significant retirement funding, events like the annual “Employees Rock Day” (where employees can win prizes by correctly answering questions about the company from senior executives who randomly call) and a commitment to improving the work environment with regular employee-satisfaction surveys, People’s enjoys a retention rate of 90 percent, which is among the highest in the banking industry—the average term of service exceeds 12 years. People’s also instills company pride with its $60 million charitable foundation, which funds nonprofit organizations and provides ample volunteer opportunities for employees to give back directly to the community. In addition to job sharing, flex time and telecommuting, every employee enjoys some form of performance-based incentive and access to e-learning programs and classroom training.