Posted: August 01, 2011
Best Companies to Work for in Colorado: Alpine BankBy Mike Taylor
2) Alpine Bank
Alpine Bank believes happy employees beget satisfied customers. This philosophy helps explain how, since its founding in 1973, this community bank has successfully set up shop in 28 Western Slope communities from Durango to Steamboat Springs to its base in Glenwood Springs, with 37 branch offices in all.
"We have always thought that while a lot of businesses think about customers first - and we do - we know that comes from employees, so we try to put the employees first," says Kristi Shelton, senior vice president of human resources and training for Alpine Bank. "And then of course the customers are a natural by-product of putting our employees first."
Shelton herself started working for Alpine Bank during breaks from college in West Virginia. Her short-term jobs then ranged from teller to, one summer when positions were scarce, researcher.
"I decided I couldn't stand being away from Glenwood for one, but also from Alpine," she says. "I've worked for other companies that aren't supportive and kind of take you for granted. They don't notice your day-to-day activities. It's hard to work for a company like that once you've worked for one that acknowledges your presence."
Perks at privately held, employee-owned Alpine include an Employee Stock Ownership Plan that contributes 7 percent of workers' salaries to a retirement account.
Alpine Bank also has a fitness and wellness program whereby equipment, lockers and showers are provided at several locations, and where fitness facilities are not provided, full or discounted gym memberships are provided to employees.
Another program helps employees cover the cost of their $1,000 insurance deductible by giving full-time employees $1,200 in "Wellness Bucks" annually and part-time employees $600 to $900. In order to claim these "wellness" dollars, the employees must participate in three of six preventive health measures such as an annual checkup for medical, dental and/or vision, and flu shots.
Alpine Bank also pays half the cost of a personal trainer, weight loss program or smoking cessation class, up to $150 per category. And in another wellness program, pedometers are provided to encourage employees to exercise by walking or running. Those who achieve 30,000 HealthMiles in a year receive a choice of $300 in cash or rebates.
Three types of mentoring programs - for new hires, those with a particular career interest and management training - are available to Alpine Bank employees.
It's not easy creating and maintaining a consistent company culture when one bank branch is seven hours from another (Durango to Steamboat Springs) and the populations where Alpine Bank does business range from Grand Junction's 55,000 to Ouray's 1,000. But Alpine goes the extra mile to do it.
"It's kind of a neat culture, and it's fascinating to see how it's evolved," says Shelton, who recalls Alpine Bank consisted of seven locations when she started there in 1990.
2010 Rank: No. 9
On one recent summer day, the Denver office of PricewaterhouseCoopers closed in the middle of the afternoon, and the office's 275 or so employees headed to Coors Field for a Rockies game, complete with a picnic lunch.
PwC's work spans the fields of assurance, tax, human resources, transactions, performance improvement and crisis management. But work at PwC isn't all ... work. The attention to career fulfillment takes many forms, from the whimsical "Trivia Tuesday" contest held every week during the Denver office's busy season, to the effort by 200 PwC professionals and interns - including five from the Denver office - to visit Belize and teach financial literacy to more than 1,200 children and teachers in early July.
PwC takes employees seriously in other ways. The Denver office has a Diversity Circle with more than 50 members. It celebrates special holidays for diverse groups of peoples, including GLBT activities such as the annual Big 4 pride event. It also has a Women's Networking Circles group with some 30 members whose intent is to meet four to five times per year to discuss women's issues.
PwC ranked No. 3 this year in DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity, one of the highest honors in corporate diversity. It marked PwC's seventh year on the list and fourth appearance in the top 10.
Wellness is another area of emphasis. PwC's Denver office is located in a building with a gym, and all members of PwC have free use of it. The company's benefits package includes an annual physical exam for every covered individual. Additionally, PwC rewards employees for activities such as visiting the doctor or dentist, smoking cessation, counseling, or working out. Each activity is assigned a point value, and $1 per point can be redeemed via a gift certificate or donated via a charitable contribution up to $340 a year.
At holiday season last year, every employee received a bonus check of $1,000 or $500 (depending on how long they had been with the firm) as a thank you for their hard work.
2010 Rank: No. 3
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.