Great Places to Work 2016

Our selection process

In researching this year’s list, we’ve learned what makes a “great” workplace is quite subjective — where one person will rave about the size of their paycheck, another loves having on-site day care, while another appreciates being 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, talked to employment professionals and researched top companies in the region. We then investigated each workplace before including it here. We only considered businesses with 50 or more employees.

Note: Companies not ranked


Americares: Stamford, Danbury, Bridgeport and Norwalk   |  americares.org  |  Connecticut employees: 157


Nonprofit disaster and poverty relief

Stamford, Danbury, Bridgeport and Norwalk | americares.org | Connecticut employees: 157

Why it’s a great place to work Beyond the feel-good nature of the work performed at this nonprofit, which has a presence in more than 90 countries, employees receive robust insurance that includes dental and vision and Aflac accident and cancer plans. In addition, the company offers a 401(k) plan that matches 100 percent of employee contributions up to 6 percent of salary. Other perks include 38 paid vacation days per year for new hires, an 18 percent discount at Verizon, flexible schedules and work-from-home options, employee-training programs, twice-a-year grants to fund educational research and the opportunity for international travel. As far as snacking at work goes, Americares has a “Healthy Market” in partnership with h.u.m.a.n. that provides nutritious fresh, frozen and dry packaged snacks and drinks to employees. Food trucks also visit Americares headquarters several times a week. The company engages in recruiting initiatives to continually expand its diversity of employees; more than half of its management positions — 55 percent — are held by women. It’s no wonder the average employee tenure at the company is nearly six years.


AQR Capital Management: Greenwich   |  aqr.com  |  Connecticut employees: 668 

AQR Capital Management

Investment manager

Greenwich | aqr.com | Connecticut employees: 668

Why it’s a great place to work The benefits are strong with this one. To wit: in most cases, the company pays for the entire premium cost of coverage for medical, dental and vision insurance; more than $5,000 is available for tuition reimbursement per calendar year; a commuter benefit plan allows employees to pay for mass transportation and parking using pre-tax dollars; local health clubs, including Equinox and New York Sports Clubs, are discounted and a $50-per-month reimbursement for any gym or fitness program is provided; a $10,000 employee-referral bonus is available; as is a meals subsidy of $10 per day for lunch and $20 per day for dinner (when required to work until 8 p.m. or later). If you’re still hungry, fully stocked kitchens on each floor of AQR’s Greenwich facility have what you need. There’s also plenty of playtime, with an annual chess tournament, regular trivia nights, ping-pong tournaments and firm-sponsored cricket, soccer and softball teams.

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Core Informatics: Branford  |  coreinformatics.com  |  Connecticut employees: 66

Core Informatics

Data management software

Branford | coreinformatics.com | Connecticut employees: 66

Why it’s a great place to work At this 3-year-old company, employees have flexible work schedules and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. “We work hard, but then play some ping-pong or grab a beer,” says Li Hayes, director of employee success. Perks include gym membership, free lunch on Fridays, free fresh fruit every day, company-sponsored happy hours on site every other week and unlimited paid time off (30 days is what is recommended, but more is permitted if necessary). Many employees with children work afternoons from home and the company matches between 4 percent to 6 percent on 401(k) plans. Employees are assigned a mentor when they start, and are given a $1,500 training allowance every year. Additionally, training programs are offered every week in house. An MVP employee is awarded every other week with a trophy and champagne, and a quarterly values award winner receives a night on the town. After a very busy month, a whole department gets a half-day off in a restaurant or arcade. And the company is growing; 12 new positions were open as of this writing.

Financial Accounting Foundation

Accounting standards

Norwalk | accountingfoundation.org | Connecticut employees: 175

Why it’s a great place to work Employees at the FAF help to set the accounting standards that make the economy tick. The FAF calls this the “virtuous cycle”: More transparency in accounting means better spending decisions, better investing and a better economy. The fact that this nonprofit is located in Fairfield County means it is doing its work in the thick of the action, among some of the biggest companies in the world. Employees get health, dental and vision coverage, along with a defined contribution plan with employer contributions based on a worker’s age and salary. Employees get 10 weeks of maternity leave, and non-primary caregivers get two paid weeks off. In 2015, the FAF launched a diversity initiative, along with inclusion workshops to make the workplace more diverse. Employees seem to like it, as the average length of employment is 11 years.


Consumer electronics

Avon | idevicesinc.com | Connecticut employees: 62

Why it’s a great place to work Probably best known for its iGrill wireless grill thermometer — which comes in handy at the annual summer picnic at the beach — this company produces other tech, such as the Switch, which allows you to control all sorts of devices around your home with your smartphone. If you’ve heard of the internet of things, that’s what iDevices is plugged into. Encouraging a positive work-life balance, the company offers unlimited paid time off to give its workers the flexibility to take time off when they need to, and allows occasional work from home. Employees also get half off iDevices products. And don’t worry about bringing lunch to work. An on-site cafe called The Byte offers free breakfast, lunch and dinner. Monthly happy hours at The Byte feature fun, games and, perhaps best of all, beer. And with the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail close by, you can get plenty of exercise and check out the fall foliage. There’s also no dress policy, so no ties required!

Hartford HealthCare

Healthcare network

Multiple locations | hartfordhealthcare.orgConnecticut employees: About 18,000

Why it’s a great place to work Hartford HealthCare is a mammoth health care system that boasts five acute-care hospitals, the state’s oldest air-ambulance service, behavioral health and rehabilitation services, a large physician group and clinical integration organization, skilled-nursing and home health services, and a comprehensive range of services for seniors, including senior-living facilities. According to Rebecca Stewart, director of news service, the best part of working for the network is the nature of the work itself. “Science proves that the secret to happiness is helping others. And helping others is what health care is all about,” she says. “Staff members throughout Hartford HealthCare are making a difference — they are leading the way and transforming how care is delivered in our state and beyond.”


Greenskies: Middletown  |  greenskies.com  |  Connecticut employees: 65


Commercial solar contracting

Middletown | greenskies.com | Connecticut employees: 65

Why it’s a great place to work With locations in Minnesota and California, this Middletown-based company is at the top of its game in the solar world. According to the company, Greenskies has tripled its workforce in the last two years, and continues to grow. In September, Greenskies was named one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the state by the Connecticut Technology Council. With a low turnover rate, the company is just getting started in what is a expanding industry. While Greenskies is a private company with no stock options for employees, it offers a 4 percent employer match to a 401(k) plan, and 20 paid vacation days a year.

SportsCenter - November 7, 2014

Bristol, CT - November 7, 2014 - Studio X: The Octoviz in the SportsCenter Annex (Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)


Sports media

Bristol | espn.com | Connecticut employees: About 4,200

Why it’s a great place to work Employees at this Connecticut sports empire receive The Walt Disney Co. benefits package, which includes theme park passes and other company discounts. Employees also have access to the ESPN KidsCenter (a child-care facility offered through Bright Horizons) and can attend the Newsmaker Series (employee-only luncheons that attract some of the biggest figures in sports and entertainment to the Bristol campus for talks and Q&A sessions). ESPN also has excellent health and wellness facilities, as well as walking trails on its campus. All employees and their families are invited to the annual ESPN Picnic at Lake Compounce in late August. Plus, sports personalities like Jim Calhoun and Rebecca Lobo are technically coworkers.


Indeed: Stamford  |  indeed.com  |  Connecticut employees: More than 600


Employment search engine

Stamford | indeed.com | Connecticut employees: More than 600

Why it’s a great place to work Indeed.com is one of the most trafficked job-posting sites online, and its employees have the phrase “I help people get jobs” printed on their business cards. So it makes sense that the company would, itself, be a great place to get a job. Employees enjoy competitive benefits and salary, as well as perks like childcare through Bright Horizons, flexible work arrangements that encourage a positive work-life balance and unlimited paid time off for all employees. The company posted revenue of $700 million in 2015, a 60 percent increase over the previous year, and it continues to hire new employees in the sales and client services departments.

Inspira Marketing Group

Experiential marketing

Norwalk | inspiramarketing.com | Connecticut employees: 55

Why it’s a great place to work As a company that provides experiences for brands, it’s no surprise the experiences offered to its employees are some of the best in class. Besides regular happy hours and relaxing options such as in-office massage chairs, the most beloved perk is the annual incentive trip. When revenue and profit goals are met — which happens more often than not, by the way — the reward is an all-expenses-paid weekend getaway to a surprise destination. Past trips include Jamaica, Cancun and St. Thomas. Then there’s the Radical Sabbatical, when, after five years with the agency, an employee is sent on a two-week, company-funded journey to fulfill their personal passion that involves giving back. Taking advantage of its relationship with clients in the alcoholic beverage industry, Inspira installed a bar in its SoNo office, fully stocked with spirits, wine and Guinness on tap. And to rouse workers from their afternoon slumps, a beverage cart rolls around the office at 4 p.m. Thursdays, serving up handcrafted cocktails and an assortment of snacks.

Shawmut - Team Building River Cruise.jpg

Shawmut: North Haven  |  shawmut.com  |  Connecticut employees: 54


Design and construction

North Haven | shawmut.com | Connecticut employees: 54

Why it’s a great place to work When this company does well, its employees do, too. They own it. In recent years, they have done well. The company has a 73 percent growth rate over the last three years, according to spokesman Kevin Corsino. Through its employee stock ownership program, shares in the company are deposited into an employee’s personal retirement account, in an amount that averages about 12 percent of their yearly salary. In addition, the company offers a 50 percent match of the first 8 percent of an employee’s contribution to a 401(k) account. Shawmut has an average length of employment of five years, and new hires are put through a 36-month training program in project management, site supervision and estimating. The company is responsible for working on some of the most iconic and recognizable buildings around, such as Fairfield University and Fenway Park.


Toy manufacturer

Enfield, Danbury and West Hartford | lego.com | Connecticut employees: 935

Why it’s a great place to work This is a great place for employees with kids, not to mention for those who are a bit of a kid themselves. Other than access to all the toys you could play with, employees receive a 26 percent discount on tuition for the on-site LEGO Creative Child Care Center, as well as 10 percent off tuition at any local KinderCare facility. For the adults, there’s an on-site gym, and wellness classes are available free of charge. Paid time off is generous, with three to six weeks of vacation, depending on length of service, five sick/personal days, and 11 holidays, with one additional floating holiday. For its 401(k), the company matches every dollar up to 6 percent of employee contributions. And if you work here, chances are LEGO products make up a good chunk of your holiday shopping for the kids in your life, what with a 50 percent discount.

Nestlé Waters

Bottled water

Stamford, North Haven | nestle-waters.comConnecticut employees: 787

Why it’s a great place to work Employees at the world’s most successful bottled water company choose one of three comprehensive medical plans that all include free in-network preventive care and offer prescription drug benefits. The company also runs an employee assistance program that provides workers with access to free, confidential counseling, educational materials and referral services. Nestlé prides itself in its parental support policies that support both moms and dads. As part of the company’s caregiver leave program, designated primary caregivers can take up to 26 weeks of leave for a newborn birth, adoption or foster placement and Nestlé provides supplemental income for eligible employees for the first 14 weeks. Nestlé also offers a phased return program in which parents have the option to return to work on a reduced schedule.

Pratt & Whitney

Aircraft engine manufacturer

East Hartford, Middletown | pratt-whitney.com | Connecticut employees: About 9,500

Why it’s a great place to work Locked in a battle with departing General Electric to be the high flier in jet-engine manufacturing, P&W anticipates doubling its engine production by 2020. To prepare for this ramp-up, the company recently announced it will hire an additional 8,000 workers in Connecticut over the next decade, and is investing $400 million in its state operations. P&W, a division of United Technologies, also plans to expand its East Hartford campus with a new engineering and headquarters building, meant to attract high-level engineering talent. Once you get a job at P&W, the company has a vested interest in making you better. The evidence is the employee scholar program, one of the most comprehensive company-sponsored education programs in the world. In the last 20 years in Connecticut, United Technologies has invested over $450 million in furthering the education of its state employees.

Slalom Consulting

Business services

Hartford | slalom.com | Connecticut employees: 75

Why it’s a great place to work The company is growing at 36 percent a year, and employees tend to stay for at least 10 years. Each year, the employees and one guest get an all-expenses-paid trip, which they call the nor’easter. In 2015 it was Lake George, New York. This year it was Stowe, Vermont. That not enough for you? How about a kegerator and a wine rack, to go alongside an Xbox? Once every 3-4 years, employees can cobble together as much as four weeks for a sabbatical of sorts, meant for professional development.


Quinnipiac University Professor Andri Smith's chemistry class Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016, in the College of Arts and Sciences' collaborative classroom on Quinnipiac's Mount Carmel Campus in Hamden, Connecticut.

Quinnipiac University

Private university

Hamden, North Haven | qu.edu | Connecticut employees: About 2,000

Why it’s a great place to work Quinnipiac University has more name recognition than most universities of its size and age, especially around election season because of its near ubiquity in the world of political polling. Employees receive health and dental, and a 5 percent matching retirement contribution for the first five years, followed by 10 percent contribution with no employee contribution required after five years. In addition, any employee is eligible for free tuition for themselves and their spouse, domestic partner or dependent children. The University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students allows for professional development. The hockey team ain’t bad these days, either.

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Stew Leonard's: Norwalk, Newington and Danbury  |  stewleonards.com  |  Connecticut employees: 1,350 

Stew Leonard’s

Food store

Norwalk, Newington and Danbury | stewleonards.com | Connecticut employees: 1,350

Why it’s a great place to work What started in 1969 as a small dairy store with seven employees has grown into a nearly $400 million enterprise with more than 2,500 employees. And more growth is on the way, with a sixth store scheduled to open in East Meadow on Long Island, New York, in June. But Stew’s is still family owned and operated. In fact, nearly a third of its employees have family also working at the company. What’s more, 52 have met their spouses there. If you land a job at Stew’s, chances are you’ll be there for a while, as the average length of employment is 10 years. Some of the reasons: profit sharing and a 401(k) in which the company matches 50 cents for every dollar contributed up to 6 percent; a comprehensive benefits plan, including on-site medical screenings, health coaching, an on-site registered nurse and money toward employees’ deductibles to encourage annual checkups; on-site cafeterias; free appreciation lunches and dinners cooked by Stew’s team of chefs; and outings such as skiing, fishing and whitewater rafting. Employees also have the power to confirm, modify or even overturn management actions. Who wouldn’t want to overrule their boss from time to time?

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.

The Senior Writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the author of "Buzzed: Where to Enjoy the Best Craft Beverages in New England" & "Gillette Castle." His next book is with Penguin Random House & he is an adjunct professor at WCSU & Quinnipiac University.

Staff writer from Middlefield