Great Places to Work 2014
Connecticut is home to hundreds of great companies, but here are 17 that offer more to employees than just a paycheck.
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 employees: 6,100
Why it’s a great place to work: Aetna’s Hartford headquarters were completed in 1930; at that time the main building on the campus was the largest colonial-style building in the world and the largest office building in the state. Today, the Hartford campus features a completely redesigned kitchen and cafeteria that is one of the largest outside the military in America, an onsite clinically staffed wellness center and pharmacy, as well as hands-free restrooms, lactation rooms, a fitness center (with personal trainers available), locker rooms, an education center for training and a LEED-certified customer conference space. Aetna benefits extend beyond Hartford, as employees who work at offices in West Hartford, Middletown, Norwalk and elsewhere are often eligible for annual reimbursement for expenses such as gym memberships, new bicycles, and other wellness-related activities. Even teleworkers can schedule one-on-one videoconferences with personal trainers. Speaking of telecommuting, an estimated 45 percent of the company’s national work force telecommutes.
Cheshire & New Haven
Connecticut employees: 700
Why it’s a great place to work: Two reasons: How the pharmaceutical company treats its employees, and the difference those employees make in the lives of people facing significant health challenges. Clare Carmichael, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, says, “Our employees share a passion for transforming the lives of people living with devastating diseases—we are driven every day because we know that patients’ lives depend on our work.” Kim Diamond, Director, Corporate Communications, stresses the satisfaction that comes from employees knowing “the work they do has the potential to transform and save lives.” In return for that passion, Alexion offers competitive compensation and benefits, and “rare opportunities” for advancement in a rapidly growing company. The Total Rewards Package available to full-time employees as of their first day is centered on “a holistic approach of supporting employees and their families,” in terms of work-life balance, health and wellness, financial security and personal growth. Founded in 1992 by a team that came from Yale, Alexion is moving to brand-new headquarters in downtown New Haven next year in order to accommodate global growth.
Connecticut employees: 100
Why it’s a great place to work: This small but successful company was founded in 1934 and is all about supporting its employees. “As a company we understand that life happens outside of work,” says Maureen O. Gallo, the company’s vice president of Human Assets. “We want our associates to be happy and well-rounded. In order to do that, we provide flexible work schedules, telecommuting and remote working opportunities.” She adds, “Our associates also receive a generous bank of paid time off to rest and recharge. It is used at their discretion for vacation or simply to handle the little things that come up in everyday living.” In addition, the company provides employees with perks such as a AAA membership, wellness incentives and educational assistance.
Connecticut employees: 950
Why it’s a great place to work: The Wallingford campus of this science-based company is a million-square-foot research facility housing laboratories and offices on 180 acres of forests, meadows and wetlands, with two ponds and a river, as well as walking paths and a nature trail. The entrance lobby features a two-story atrium and a waterfall. But it’s not just aesthetics that make a job here something to brag about. The company offers employees comprehensive healthcare coverage. In addition diversity and inclusion are part of the corporate culture and Bristol-Myers Squibb has a variety of minority support groups within the company including the African American Employee Resource Group; disABILITY Network Alliance; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies; Organization for Latino Achievement; Pan Asia Network; and Women’s Resource Group. It’s little wonder the company received a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on its list of the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality, and a Top 50 ranking for Executive Women from the National Association for Female Executives.
Connecticut employees: 61
Why it’s a great place to work: CHG Healthcare understands the importance of resting and recharging for employees. During the day, workers can hit the recreation area for a quick game of ping pong, foosball or darts. A big-screen TV shows sporting events and is perfect for playing tennis or bowling on the office Xbox. For quieter relaxation, there’s a room where people can read a book from the in-house library, meditate or take a nap. Work schedules are flexible, with employees arriving at work as late as 9:30 a.m. though many choose to get in early and leave by 4:30 p.m. People who live far from work, and have demonstrated an ability to be productive from home, are allowed to do so a couple of days a week. Everyone is permitted certificates for working from home three days, to be used as needed. Other rewards for placements include a carnival-style spin wheel with $5 to $20 gift cards to local stores and the option to play music of your choice through the office.
Connecticut employees: 130
Why it’s a great place to work: After more than 30 years in the PC-based CAD/CAM software industry, the executive team at CNC still believes that their employees are the biggest asset, and maintaining a positive work-life balance has been the key to the company’s continued success. The 53,000-square-foot, environmentally friendly Tolland headquarters has windows for almost every office and three full kitchens, each individually decorated and available for employees to cook their own meals, which can feature free fresh eggs from a chicken coop and barn on the rustic grounds. Holidays are celebrated with families throughout the year—trick or treating for kids at Halloween, a visit from Santa at holiday parties, etc. In addition to a comprehensive benefits package, extensive vacation time and work-at-home opportunities, employees enjoy catered lunch three days a week ($3 per plate), a full gym with basketball and racquetball courts and “green” atmosphere with a solar field and geothermal system and no pesticides in the company garden. Oh, and working through lunch or from home on weekends is discouraged.
Connecticut employees: 900
Why it’s a great place to work: With a workforce based on the 750-acre Arboretum campus in New London, Connecticut College offers employees a tight-knit, culturally rich, inclusive, educational community and free or discounted access to theater, dance, music, lectures and athletics events, as well as opportunities for community service. In addition to sliding-scale employee contributions for generous health and dental benefits, the college contributes 10 percent of base salary to retirement annuity accounts, without requiring an employee match. The college also contributes to a health savings account for future retirement medical expenses; offers tuition benefits for employees, spouses and dependent children; and provides wellness programs that include free access to a state-of-the-art fitness center. The result is an average length of service exceeding 12 years, with more than 150 employees who have been at the college for 20 years plus. Perhaps most important, all employees have a role—and take great personal pride—in the exceptional education the college provides its students.
Connecticut employees: 884
Why it’s a great place to work: The saying that there’s no free lunch doesn’t apply at this global company headquartered in Connecticut where employees can eat their midday meal for free Monday through Thursday. In addition, each floor of the company’s modern office space has a kitchen fully stocked with fruit, snacks, drinks, and coffee, and there’s also a Starbucks in-house. The joys of working at FactSet, however, extend beyond these culinary benefits and include three weeks’ paid vacation to start, an employee stock purchase plan, a wellness program with health fairs, messages and a nutritionist. In addition there are drop off dry-cleaning services and an on-site car wash.
Stamford & Trumbull
Connecticut employees: 1,145
Why it’s a great place to work: Gartner has long been known for recruiting the best and the brightest in market research, but it also has gained a reputation for making sure that it retains that talent, and that starts with the office space itself. In 2013, the company completed a $20 million modernization of its Stamford quarters that included all-new office furniture and a state-of-the-art fitness center. It also installed a cafeteria that serves daily breakfast and lunch items (including vegetarian options), offering a discount on healthy choices; also on-site is a coffee shop where employees can purchase fruit smoothies, coffee, tea and other beverages as well as healthy and sweet snack items. Gartner also offers an extensive benefits program with a range of options that employees select themselves—from full health, dental and vision plans to life and disability insurance to educational assistance and tuition reimbursement. There’s also a commuter benefits program, a corporate credit union and charity matching.
Connecticut employees: 1,360
Why it’s a great place to work: At this Valley hospital, the patient really does come first. It’s the crux of their business model. Griffin serves as the flagship hospital for Planetree, an international leader in patient-centered care. That personal touch extends to their employees as well. Through the WINFIT wellness program, staff is encouraged to take care of themselves by utilizing the fitness center and scheduling free chair massages and relaxation sessions. Griffin’s “I Take It Personally” program is a monthly award system that includes a special celebration and cash award, plus eligibility for employee of the year (who gets $1,000 and a reserved parking spot). Monetary incentives are also presented for reaching departmental and institutional goals. Employee loyalty runs high here with a retention rate of more than 90 percent and an average term of employment running about a decade.
Connecticut employees: 75
Why it’s a great place to work: InCord is a company that knows about laying out a safety net for its employees—literally. The company, with roots deep in the Connecticut fishing industry, formed in 1995 and designs, manufactures and services custom safety nets. After outgrowing two previous locations, InCord has settled into a 25,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in Colchester, which offers a cafeteria and two kitchens and once hosted an employee wedding and reception—during work hours. More than 15 employees (or 20 percent) have been “snagged” long-term by InCord, working with the company since its start nearly 20 years ago. A tight-knit group that celebrates other events together, employees also enjoy a positive working environment and a comprehensive benefits package with healthcare, vacation, holiday pay, 401K and profit sharing, as well as the comfort of two office dogs, Body and Mosely.
Connecticut employees: 669
Why it’s a great place to work: The LEGO website says best: “We do make a point of having a fun and playful work environment. Products are available for everybody and we’re keen to encourage interaction with them and our consumers.” The LEGO North American headquarters in Connecticut has often been praised for the wide range of wellness and lifestyle perks offered to employees—like an onsite gym with classes—which represent an extension of the larger corporate ethos of the privately held company founded in 1932 and based in Billund, Denmark. CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp says, “Our culture is based on openness, trust and our core values—Creativity, Imagination, Fun, Learning, Quality and Care—which are reflected in everything we do.” What other workplaces can you think of where “fun” is encoded in the corporate DNA? On top of all that, LEGO employees get a 50 percent discount on all products.
Connecticut employees: 162
Why it’s a great place to work: Despite experiencing strong growth (staff has more than doubled in the past four years, with more hiring expected in the next year), Nufern employees enjoy a work atmosphere often described as “family-like.” Sure, work involves the challenges of manufacturing optical fibers and other high-tech equipment, but the approach here is a decidedly low-tech, team-first one, where every employee is treated with the same appreciation. Employees also enjoy annual barbecues, ice cream socials and service awards as well as a clean, bright working space that features an onsite fitness center and three fully equipped kitchens. Nufern also subsidizes a significant portion of medical, dental and vision premiums, has a 401K match, sponsors regular free health clinics and wellness programs, and supports its own company sports teams. No surprise that turnover here is less than 5 percent annually.
Connecticut employees: 60
Why it’s a great place to work: With a fun, open office atmosphere in downtown Hartford, Slalom Consulting is the kind of up-and-coming business that promotes collaboration and a work-life balance. The company is understanding of individual’s schedules and needs. For working parents or others who need less than full-time employment, they offer a part-time variable pay model, which allows flexible or reduced schedules. The sabbatical program enables eligible consultants to take a four-week paid absence upon completion of 6,000 billable hours. At Slalom, hard work is rewarded with hard play. Each year, all Hartford employees are treated to a weekend, all-expenses-paid get-away with a guest, known as the Nor’Easter. The office is filled with couches, an Xbox, shuffleboard, darts, snacks and drinks. Music pumps through the space, and there are even multiple beer taps and a stocked wine rack for after-work enjoyment.
Trumbull & Shelton
Connecticut employees: 911
Why it’s a great place to work: Unilever may be an international corporation, but it’s made a particularly strong impact on Trumbull, where the research and development center supports more than a dozen well-known skin, hair and deodorant brands, including Pond’s, Dove, Axe, Vaseline, Q-Tips and Suave. In addition to competitive benefits, many employees cite a friendly, laid-back atmosphere that succeeds because of the team-first attitude. Others appreciate perks such as flexible working arrangements and the company store, which offers discounts on Unilever’s consumer goods, or the fitness center, employee credit union, regular health and wellness workshops, a partnership with a daycare provider and free ice cream. The company has also been recognized as a great place to start a career, in part because of its dedication in ensuring workplace diversity.
Yale-New Haven Hospital
Connecticut employees: 11,436
Why it’s a great place to work: When employees join Yale-New Haven Hospital—part of the Yale-New Haven Health System that includes Bridgeport and Greenwich hospitals—they enter a culture that respects and values what they do, become part of a world-class healthcare team and join a “work environment that fosters innovation,” while making a difference in the lives of thousands of people. That’s reward alone, but it’s only the beginning. “The health and well-being of our employees and their families is one of our top priorities,” the Yale-New Haven website says in prefacing the impressive benefits package. It includes comprehensive medical, dental and vision plans, and also life insurance and retirement plans. The Work/Life benefits include on-site day care locations, adoption assistance, an on-site fitness center, tuition reimbursement and even tuition loans for dependents of employees. If that’s not enough, Yale-New Haven says something you thought you’d never hear an employer declare: “We know that life can sometimes get in the way of work, and whether it’s for a vacation in the Caribbean or an unforeseen injury, we try to give our employees as much time and flexibility as they need . . . .” Amid all of that, you get to be a member of a team that fixes people and makes their lives better, fuller and longer.
Connecticut employees: 9,000+
Why it’s a great place to work: “Along with exceptional benefits such as health care, pension plans, competitive pay, generous paid time off, tuition assistance, life insurance and long-term disability insurance, faculty and staff enjoy Yale’s world-class museums, performing arts, libraries, and sporting events.” So says the Working at Yale section on the university’s website. We sat down with two members of the human resources staff to quantify the appeal of working at Yale and were amazed at the depth and breadth of the great things offered to employees—from terrific health care through the Yale Health Plan to a scholarship program for the children of employees, tuition assistance and financial aid, to free Worklife Programs on important, or fun, topics. Selected in September once again by Working Mother magazine as one of the “100 Best Companies” in the nation, Yale has seven child-care centers on campus, referral services for child care, subsidies for in-home child care, resources for eldercare and more. The list of great perks is far too long to reflect in full—there’s access to the Yale Golf Course and to a recreation facility in East Lyme, and the Yale Advantages program that gives employees discounts on many day-to-day goods and services. And not least of all, there’s a President’s Award for Staff Excellence to recognize the outstanding contributions and accomplishments of Yale employees.
For more companies, check out our 2012 list of Great Places to Work.
(This article was originally published on a different platform. Some formatting changes may have occurred.)
This article appeared in the November 2014 issue of Connecticut Magazine
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