Great Places to Work
There are hundreds of good companies in Connecticut, but here are 20 that offer more to their employees than just a paycheck.
Illustration by Adam Doyle
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When last we took on this task in 2010, we profiled 23 great places to work. To augment that group, we have come up with 20 new businesses and organizations that we believe to be good employers.
No workplace is perfect—it is still work, after all—and there may be some people who roll their eyes when they see their employer listed here. But overall, the employees at these places agree that going to work every day is a positive and satisfying experience.
In our research, common themes appeared, among them that bottom-line success often goes hand-in-hand with employees who feel that they are valued and appreciated. Beyond great benefits and competitive compensation, many of these organizations also offer a positive work-life balance as well as a working environment characterized by open communication, cooperation and a willingness to give employees space to handle their responsibilities on their own terms.
Our selection process
In researching this year’s list, we’ve learned what makes a “great” workplace that is very subjective—where one person will rave about the size of their paycheck, another loves having on-site day care, while another appreciates to be able to work from home.
We came up with this list independently—unlike similar articles you may have seen in other publications, there were no fees required to be considered. We sought suggestions via this magazine, our website and social-media outlets, talked to employment professionals and researched top companies in the region. We then investigated each workplace in depth before including it here. We only considered businesses with 50 or more employees.
Connecticut Magazine's 2012 Great Places to Work
North Stonington & Hartford • a-zcorp.com
Connecticut employees: 327
Business: Construction, operation and maintenance services
Why is it a great place to work? A/Z was founded in 1968 by Ed Lorenz, and what started out as a small family business has grown into a larger—but still family—business: Ed’s son Perry now runs the enterprise, and he’s one of multiple second-generation employees (as well as numerous siblings) who enjoy a close, stable and team-first atmosphere where there are opportunities to work up through the ranks. When possible, construction weeks are flexed into four 10-hour days (to save commuting costs), and there’s recognition for length of service, achievement of safety incentives and job performance, including a paid trip for the “employee of the year.” A/Z also has an apprenticeship program, offers training for industry-related areas, and, like any good family, celebrates birthdays (on a monthly basis) with cake.
Ridgefield and Southbury • boehringer-ingelheim.com
Connecticut employees: 2,500
Why is it a great place to work? Boehrin-ger Ingelheim’s corporate mantra is “value through innovation,” and it’s clear that the company values its employees highly—Boehringer Ingelheim has been recognized as a top employer for scientists, working mothers, female executives and for the diversity of its work force. The “Workplace of the Future” initiative features state-of-the-art technological centers, flextime, telecommuting and work spaces designed to encourage collaboration; construction is under way on two new research-and-development facilities on the company’s scenic 300-acre Ridgefield campus. Also on campus: a children’s learning center, company store, credit union, dry cleaners and a fitness center. An annual health fair emphasizes employee wellness, while The Boehringer-Ingelheim Cares Foundation supports employee volunteer efforts on behalf of local charities as well as science-, technology- and engineering-education programs across the state.
Wilton • connolly.com
Connecticut employees: 150
Business: Recovery auditing services
Why is it a great place to work? As a service company, Connolly is wholly dependent upon the efforts of its employees for its continued success, and thus strives to keep them happy. With revenue growing 80 percent over the past five years and employee retention at 95 percent, the strategy is working. Connolly is situated in an airy, bright office in a manicured corporate park with gardens, tennis and basketball courts, a horseshoe pit and summer concerts. Employees enjoy an on-site gym, wellness programs and family events such as a visit from Santa and a Halloween parade. In addition, the company stresses training and strong interoffice communication, including a free lunch every Thursday to encourage networking. The “Connolly Cares” program provides opportunities to give back to the community and support various charitable causes.
Watertown, Stamford & Groton • crystalrock.com
Connecticut employees: 150
Business: Water, coffee and business supplies
Why is it a great place to work? Since its founding in 1914 by Henry Baker, Crystal Rock has operated by the motto, “Little Things Matter.” That still extends to the way the Baker family—Henry’s grandson Peter is CEO—handles its employees. Beyond standard benefits, the company provides “little things” like flu shots, annual safety and sales- recognition awards (with items like gift cards and show tickets in addition to financial compensation) and “appreciation weeks” featuring free lunches and chair massages. Paid work time is also allotted to employees for community-service activities. When the company moved to Watertown in 1988, employees chipped in for a flagpole and dedicated it to the Baker family in appreciation for decades of support, a sentiment that continues today.
Sandy Hook • curtispackaging.com
Connecticut employees: 150
Business: Packaging services
Why is it a great place to work? Although the business of Curtis Packaging is concerned with aesthetically pleasing exterior appearances, it’s the employee-friendly atmosphere inside the 150,000-square-foot facility in Sandy Hook—which includes a ’50s-style “Curtis Diner” break room—that has helped to drive the family-owned company’s success. The average employee tenure is 15 years (with many who’ve been there twice as long), and members of the Curtis workforce enjoy events like an annual picnic, ice cream sundae days, employee-anniversary celebrations and holiday parties. Wellness is heavily promoted with opportunities such as annual flu shots and a “Biggest Loser” weight-loss program. The company also provides training and regularly rewards employee service.