Posted: August 01, 2010
Best Companies to Work For in Colorado 2010: Large
Edward Jones comes out on topBy Mike Taylor
Scott Wilson started out as a client for Edward Jones, as he entrusted the financial-services firm to manage his college money. He was impressed enough that he joined the firm in 1993 and has been there ever since.
"I tell people all the time I think there are three reasons to work for Edward Jones," says Wilson, a financial adviser at Edward Jones' Loveland office and regional leader for northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming, representing 65 Edward Jones offices. "First, you control your time. The ability to schedule around your kids' events or your family's events or your friends' events is such a big thing. Second, to make a difference. The one-on-one, face-to-face relationships we have with our clients over time, that's the most rewarding part for sure. And then obviously you want to be rewarded for the work you do."
These and other qualities are why Edward Jones is No. 1 in the large-firm category of Best Companies to Work For, the third time in five years that the St. Louis-based firm has claimed the award's top spot. The other two years it was No. 2.
Edward Jones is the nation's largest financial-services firm in terms of branch offices, with more than 10,500 locations, including 271 branches and more than 600 associates in Colorado. The firm's financial advisers work directly with clients to understand their personal goals - from college savings to retirement - and create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy.
As Wilson points out, financial advisers do not punch a time clock at Edward Jones. They set their own schedules, which can mean a four-day work week if they choose. In addition, each financial adviser hires his or her own business office administrator and has the freedom to make these hours flexible, or hire two administrators and offer compressed work weeks.
That flexibility is a big selling point to Wilson, 40, who has two daughters.
"My girls are 15 and 12, and I'm able to catch all their sporting events and all that stuff," he says. "I might have to come back to work later, but from a flexible-schedule standpoint, it's great."
Wilson says he has never been as proud of the firm as in the past 18 months of the economic recession. As partners with the firm, Wilson and his financial-adviser cohorts were asked to do their part during the downturn by implementing cost-cutting measures and salary freezes.
As a result, he says, not a single person within the Edward Jones company had to be laid off. And the salary freezes have since been lifted.
"Everybody sacrificed, and I think that says a lot," Wilson says. "In 2010, business is certainly improving. That's pretty cool to me to think not a single person was laid off at our company."
2009 rank: No. 2
Pinnacol Assurance is Colorado's oldest and largest provider of workers' compensation insurance, with approximately 60,000 policyholders statewide. More than half of all Colorado businesses are Pinnacol customers. It's also Colorado's "safety net" workers' compensation provider. The company must provide coverage to any Colorado business.
Given this role that's inherent to worker well-being, it makes sense that Pinnacol would strive to set an example with the way it treats its own employees.
A case in point: Pinnacol launched a wellness program in November last year for its own 610 employees in Denver before promoting it among businesses it insures around the state.
"If I'm not going to walk the talk, it's a very difficult sell when we go to a business owner who is trying to keep his doors open, and we're telling him, ‘We're here with another program that will reap you benefits,'" says Ken Ross, Pinnacol's president and CEO.
Flex Time is another benefit to Pinnacol employees, as nearly 90 percent of employees participate in some form of a flex-time schedule. While full-time employees work the company's core business hours of Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., there is flexibility within teams to establish start and leave times.
Another workplace-enhancing element Ross cites in explaining Pinnacol's workplace culture is its dedication to volunteer activities. Last year, 93 percent of Pinnacol employees volunteered in the community in some capacity, totaling more than 5,400 hours for 75 different nonprofit entities around the state.
"Our staff really has embraced that," Ross says.
Though Ross describes Pinnacol's business role as that of a "typical insurance company," it's obvious he doesn't want the workplace to be typical.
"We keep looking to reduce rates and give back dividends," Ross says, "but people also really enjoy working at Pinnacol. We get almost all our new employees from references from current employees. Not that we're hiring a lot these days, but when there's an opening, everybody has someone to recommend who might fit in. We keep that culture going.
"I think it's a great place to work."
2009 rank: No. 1
PricewaterhouseCoopers operates in 151 countries with a network of 163,000 people. But within individual offices - including the Denver location that employs 246 - there's a sense of community and shared responsibility for co-workers' well-being.
Case in point: Each new employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers is quickly paired with a "buddy mentor," someone who works in the same service area at the same level who helps the newcomer acclimate, checking in every now and then for the first six months.
The mentoring doesn't end there for the firm that provides expertise in the fields of assurance, tax, human resources, transactions, performance improvement and crisis management.
"Every employee, whether new or tenured, essentially has a couple of different levels of mentors or relationships," says Kenya Haupt, the firm's human-resources leader for its Denver and Salt Lake City offices.
Haupt describes one of those levels as "essentially a manager or ‘above-coach' who meets formally with his or her people at least four times a year to discuss their development plan, their progress from a performance perspective ... really just serving to develop the person professionally and personally."
Then there's the fact that every PricewaterhouseCoopers employee connects with a partner or leader of the firm two or three times a year, one of those occasions being purely social.
"They'll invite all of their connections and their spouses or guests to their homes, and they'll have dinner to just kind of connect with them socially, learn more about their families, learn a little bit more about them on a personal level," Haupt says.
Another indication of PwC's commitment to employees - even those taking a break from the job - is the firm's "Full Circle program," geared toward parents who want to leave the firm for up to five years. While these employees are away, the company provides training for them to maintain their credentials and a mentor to keep them in the loop. The objective is to facilitate that employee's return when he or she is ready.
Haupt says one employee in the Denver office is in the Full Circle Program now: a CPA who had her second child and started taking advantage of the program about a year and a half ago.
"She's someone who wants to stay at home and spend as much quality time as she can with her little ones," Haupt says.
During her time away, PwC will pay for renewal of her CPA license as well as the training required to keep her credentialed or licensed, ensuring a smooth return when she decides to come back.
2009 rank: No. 4
Location: Headquartered in Greenwood Village with operations in 11 regional offices throughout the U.S.
CEO: Robert B. Engel
2009 revenue: $946 million (net interest income)
Colorado workers: 486
IN A NUTSHELL: CoBank is the largest financial-services institution headquartered in Colorado, with more than $58 billion in assets. CoBank is a cooperative, owned by its customers and led by a board of directors primarily elected by customers.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: CoBank has a "total compensation" philosophy and strives to provide a comprehensive approach to rewarding and retaining talent through a program composed of competitive base pay, benefits and performance-based recognition opportunities including incentives.
VALUES: CoBank enables every employee to direct a $200 corporate donation each year to a civic or community organization of his or her choosing. In 2009, the personal giving program resulted in about $129,000 in donations to more than 200 organizations.
2009 rank: No. 8
CEO: Kent Thiry
2009 revenue: $6.1 billion
Colorado workers: 811
IN A NUTSHELL: DaVita Inc., a Fortune 500 company, is a leading provider of kidney care in the United States, delivering dialysis services and educational resources to approximately 118,000 patients with chronic kidney failure and end-stage renal disease.
PERKS: DaVita offers the Triple Crown Profit Sharing Plan to all employees below the director level. This program allows employees to defer 100 percent of their profit sharing award directly into their 401(k) plan on a pre-tax basis. DaVita has paid an average of $100 million each year in profit sharing.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: DaVita uses a Web-assisted mentoring program that allows a mentee to assess his or her development needs, find a suitable mentor and create a mentoring agreement. The program supports participants through messaging and calendar functions, providing easy planning and scheduling and allowing for collaborative discussions with mentors.
2009 rank: 11
quest diagnostics inc.
Location: Headquartered in Madison, N.J., with a major laboratory facility in Denver
CEO: Surja Mohapatra
2009 revenue: $7.5 billion ($122.7 million in Colorado)
Colorado workers: 620
IN A NUTSHELL: Quest Diagnostics is the nation's leading provider of diagnostic testing, information and services that patients and doctors need to make better health-care decisions.
PERKS: Employees may purchase Quest Diagnostics stock at 85 percent of the market price. From each paycheck, a minimum of $10 and a maximum of 10 percent of base pay may be invested. The option is available to employees regularly scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Each year a number of employees from the business unit are recognized for their outstanding contributions by receiving a determined percent of stock options. All employees from front line to management are eligible for the options.
2009 rank: No. 7
merrick & co
Location: Headquartered in Aurora with 11 offices in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
CEO: Ralph W. Christie Jr.
2009 revenue: $67 million (Colorado)
Colorado workers: 297
IN A NUTSHELL: Merrick & Co. is a multidisciplinary professional services firm specializing in engineering and architectural design, facility and equipment design-build, procurement, construction management and geospatial services.
PERKS: Merrick & Co. provides awards to employees who refer individuals for positions within the company who are subsequently hired. The company took this aggressive approach to its referral program because it recognizes that employees have good contacts and wanted to reward employees for bringing in quality candidates.
VALUES: As part of its wellness program, the company invites employees and their spouses to participate in a "Know Your Numbers" event where they can find out their biometrics. Once they complete a Health Risk Assessment, Merrick contributes $100 to their Flexible Spending Account or the Health Savings Account.
2009 rank: 9
OMNI INTERLOCKEN RESORT
Location: Broomfield; parent company Omni Hotels is headquartered in Irving, Texas.
CEO: James Caldwell
Colorado workers: 315
IN A NUTSHELL: Omni Hotels is a privately owned company that operates 43 luxury hotels in the top business getaways and leisure destinations in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The four-diamond Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield is nestled against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Its 27-hole championship golf course was named the third-best course in the Rocky Mountain region by Golf Magazine in 2008.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: Omni Hotels has a recruiting program aimed at recent college graduates. The program, called Manager in Development (MID), gives participants the training and mentoring needed to begin their careers with Omni Hotels.
PERKS: All Omni Interlocken Resort associates have the opportunity to utilize the resort's state-of-the-art fitness center at any time, at no cost.
2009 rank: No. 3
Location: 37 locations on Colorado's Western Slope
CEO: J. Robert Young
2009 revenue: $174 million
Colorado workers: 474
IN A NUTSHELL: Founded in 1973 in Carbondale, Alpine Bank serves close to 100,000 customers on the Western Slope with retail, business, trust and asset management, mortgage and electronic banking services.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: Alpine's wellness program helps employees cover the cost of their insurance deductible. Through the company's "Wellness Bucks" program, employees have $600 to $1,200 available to put toward their deductible each year. To claim these "Wellness Bucks," employees must participate in just three of six preventative health measures or activities. The items include getting an annual checkup for medical, dental and/or vision, participating in the annual bank blood draw, microfit testing and/or getting a flu shot.
PERKS: Alpine Bank has a Dependent Education Assistance Program that reimburses employees up to $6,000 per child to help cover certain costs associated with post-high school education and training.
2009 rank: No. 5
T-Mobile USA - Colorado Call Centers
Location: Headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., with call centers in Thornton and Colorado Springs
CEO: Robert Dotson
Colorado workers: 1,440
IN A NUTSHELL: T-Mobile USA operates a nationwide wireless communications network and has 24 call centers, including centers in Thornton and Colorado Springs. The company's retail stores sell wireless phones and devices.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: T-Mobile uses advanced work-force management software to create scheduling options, including a compressed work week that allows employees to work extended daily hours so they can work fewer days. Last year, 25 percent of Colorado Springs employees and 53 percent of Thornton employees took advantage of full-time compressed work weeks.
CAREER FULFILLMENT: Both the Thornton and Colorado Springs sites have career development programs.
2009 rank: No. 10
cheyenne mountain resort
Location: Colorado Springs
CEO: Laura Neumann
2009 revenue: $30 million
Colorado workers: 245
IN A NUTSHELL: As one of the top Colorado Springs hotels, Cheyenne Mountain Resort has championship golf, children's programs, four swimming pools, indoor and outdoor tennis, a complete fitness center, and a 35-acre lake for sailing and fishing.
WHAT'S SPECIAL: Cheyenne Mountain Resort has had three formal mentoring sessions in the past two years with each key executive "adopting" one employee for three to six months. The mentoring is typically focused on interpersonal support, guidance, mutual exchange, sharing of wisdom, coaching and role modeling. All employees in good standing are eligible to participate in the program.
EMPLOYEE INVOLVEMENT: The resort has seven committees (Safety, Culture, Newsletter, Green/Sustainability, Revenue Enhancement, Training and DELIGHT) chaired by employees with a diverse cross-section of fellow employees and one executive team member for support.
2009 rank: No. 6
Mike Taylor is the managing editor of ColoradoBiz. He writes about small-business money issues and how startups are launched. Email him at email@example.com.