Great Places to Work


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Pepperidge Farm
Norwalk, Bloomfield and Westbrook
Connecticut employees: 750
Business type: Baked goods

Why is it a great place to work? For over 70 years, Pepperidge Farm’s bread has been baked here in Connecticut, and like dough rising, it has slowly grown from a small family business to a nationally recognized brand. In the process, it has become a company that has demonstrated a genuine commitment to its employees’ satisfaction, gauging it through annual surveys, and then regularly implementing suggestions. Employees enjoy flexible work hours, telecommuting, on-site dry cleaning, shoe repair and health services, free medical screenings, and of course, deep discounts on Pepperidge Farm baked goods (in addition to frequent product giveaways). The popular Founder’s Day event annually celebrates the company’s history with an all-employee picnic and team games. Pepperidge Farm also stresses community service, with employees taking two days a year volunteering for such projects as food banks, beach clean-ups and community-center renovations; the company is also a large contributor to the United Way, with 90 percent of employees participating in programs.

Phoenix Companies
Connecticut employees: 400
Business type: Insurance & financial services

Why is it a great place to work? Another Connecticut financial institution that underwent employee reductions last year, Phoenix has, like its namesake, survived and is ready to rise from the ashes as it heads into its 161st year. The distinctive headquarters at One American Row—both a National Historic Landmark and a certified silver-level LEED facility, a rare dual honor—recently added an employee lounge that offers video games, a putting green, dartboards and foosball, as well as a serenity room (complete with a fountain) to help find quiet in the middle of a hectic day. Phoenix is also geared to maximize the employee work-life balance: Over 75 percent of Phoenix’s employees enjoy a daily flexible schedule, while the rest have more formal flex time, telecommuting or compressed work weeks. The company also supports adoption (including paying up to 80 percent of eligible expenses) and provides three paid weeks of paternity leave that can be taken at any point in the first six months following the birth of a child.

Avon and New Britain
Connecticut employees: 150
Business type: Reflective products

Why is it a great place to work? How many times have you muttered something like this at work: “If I owned this place, we’d sure do things differently around here.” Courtesy of Reflexite’s stock ownership program—which annually rewards employees with a minimum of 3 percent of their salary in company stock and as much as 18 percent, based on Reflexite’s financial performance—many of the reflective-materials producer’s largest shareholders also work on the production floor, and consequently, are directly involved in managerial decisions. When business was down a few years ago, it was the employees who dictated the belt tightening; now that the company is busy and growing again, the increased profits are going directly back to them. With a voluntary departure rate of less than 3 percent, Reflexite can invest heavily in training and personnel development—each member of top management, all of whom have been promoted from within, has been with the company for a minimum of 10 years, providing a stable and consistent work environment.

Stew Leonard’s
Norwalk, Danbury and Newington
Connecticut employees: 1,447
Business type: Grocery retail

Why is it a great place to work? Talk about a commitment to employees (or “team members,” as they are called at Stew Leonard’s): Despite facing tough economic challenges in the retail market, the Connecticut grocery giant has steadfastly held to one of its golden rules—no layoffs in 40 years of business. Senior managers recently took a pay freeze rather than turn anyone out, which may not come as a surprise considering that 82 percent of the company’s management has been promoted from within and therefore can appreciate being lower on the company totem pole. But being on a “lower” level isn’t too bad, as the company strongly focuses on preventive health care, offering on-site physicals, cholesterol and blood-pressure screenings, mammograms and flu shots. Team members also are given discounts on weight-loss programs, smoking-cessation aids and fitness center memberships, plus up to $500 toward their deductible to encourage them to get annual physicals. Oh, and the fridges in the company cafeterias are fully stocked, too.

Trumbull and Clinton
Connecticut employees: 893
Business type: Consumer products

Why is it a great place to work? Being responsible for such a diversity of products and brands—everything from Axe to Vaseline—it’s only natural that this consumer-product giant also has such diversity in its operations. Careers are available in everything from research and development to marketing and sales to finance and human resources, and there is movement within each of these divisions. Unilever has been recognized as a place for recent college grads to get their careers going as well as a positive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality and healthy lifestyles. It has five employee diversity/business networks—a Women’s Interactive Network, an African-American Business Council, a Hispanic Business Network, an Asian Business Council and PRIDE (the gay, lesbian and transgendered network)—plus “Agile Working,” which allows for workplace flexibility, such as working from home if a child has a snow day. The Global Fit program provides discounted gym membership; when traveling for business, employees are also alotted $20 per day for fitness costs. Unilever also has 24/7 back-up care for times when child- or elder-care arrangements fall through, plus an around-the-clock NurseLine for health questions and issues.

Connecticut employees: 750
Business type: Printing and imaging equipment

Why is it a great place to work? As one of the most recognized names in offices anywhere, Xerox has long been looked to as a leader in the business community, and repeatedly has earned distinction for creating a respected work environment. From championing careers for executive women and minority professionals to embracing eco-friendly practices, Xerox continues to attract its share of talented people, many of whom have been with the company for an extended period, which has created camaraderie and stability. As Xerox has grown, opportunities for advancement also have been plentiful, and in addition to comprehensive medical, dental and insurance plans (including for dependents), it offers many additional benefits such as child- and elder-care support, adoption assistance and counseling for personal mental-health issues, plus mortgage assistance for first-time homebuyers. Xerox also provides tuition assistance for eligible studies that relate to professional development, and through its credit union, offers student loans and other financial services.

Yale-New Haven Hospital
New Haven
Connecticut employees: 8,515
Business type: Hospital

Why is it a great place to work? How’s this for a statistic: 900 of Yale-New Haven Hospital’s 8,500 employees—over 10 percent—have been employed there for 25 years or more. Sure, YNHH is known for its cornucopia of perks, from comprehensive medical benefits to extensive retirement options to an on-site daycare center, but it’s other programs that help it retain better than 91 percent of its employees. The hospital’s LivingWell program is at the heart of its wellness effort, providing health-related programs and services for employees and their dependents. In response to the recent economic recession, YNHH launched its Hardship Program (originally seeded with voluntary donations from senior management); so far $35,000 has been awarded to help employees who have struggled financially or have had spouses lose jobs. The School at Work program bolsters professional development by providing career counseling, services and tuition assitance for those who are seeking educational opportunities in medical-related fields. Finally, YNHH also holds regular employee-friendly events, like monthly birthday breakfasts where employees get to celebrate with others born in the same month.

Great Places to Work

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