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Great Job


Posted on May 28


Franklin Templeton Investments

Type of company: Global investment organization
Local staff: 1,155
Home base: Rancho Cordova
Website: franklintempleton.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

It's easy to see why the Sacramento Area Human Resources Association honored Franklin Templeton Investments with a workplace excellence award this year.

"The overall philosophy that drives the selection of benefits we offer employees can be summarized in three words: value-added, diverse and flexible," says Penny Alexander, senior vice president of human resources (United States) for Franklin Templeton Investments. "We continually review our benefits to ensure they add value to employees' rewards package, are diverse enough to meet the needs of all employees, and deliver flexibility employees and their families can appreciate."

Some of the specialized benefits include annual performance bonuses for employees at all levels, an employee stock investment program, a 401(k) program with a 50 percent company match on the first 6 percent of salary contributed and an opportunity to purchase Franklin Templeton funds without sales or brokerage fees.

Employees also have several opportunities for professional development. The Futures Program, for example, is a two-year management-training program composed of on-the-job experience, classroom training, workshops and mentoring. The Global Ambassador Program rotates employees through short-term positions in FTI offices in other countries, enabling cross-border exchanges of ideas. There also is a tuition reimbursement plan and more than 60 specific training programs to help employees develop career-enhancing skills.

The company places significant emphasis on helping employees balance work demands with the demands of everyday life.

"We believe a healthy quality of life helps individuals feel more fulfilled, so we focus on things that will support our employees' individual life needs," Alexander says.

Benefits include access to backup child or elder care if an employee's care provider is unavailable, an adoption assistance plan that provides up to $5,000 per child to help cover adoption expenses and a "Baby Steps" program for expectant parents. The company also starts a mutual fund on behalf of every employee's new child.

Other family-friendly programs include flexible work schedules, a college investing plan, discounts on a variety of theme parks and attractions, and CPR and safety training. The Sacramento office also hosts a Convenient Amenities Recreation and Employee Services center where employees can take advantage of facilities for new moms as well as dry cleaning, shoe repair, massage, postal, car washing and other services.

USAA

Type of company: Insurance, banking investments and financial advice
Local staff: 930
Home base: Sacramento
Website: usaa.com
Hiring status: Recruiting in 2006

It takes a mighty accomplished organization to say it provides a world-class work environment, but that's exactly how Roger Wildermuth, USAA's executive director of corporate communications, describes what the company has created.

"Our mission is to serve members of the military and their families, and in order to serve them well, it's critical for us to attract and retain outstanding employees," Wildermuth says. "As a result, we provide a world-class work environment, committed to balancing our employees' well-being with members' needs and the financial performance of the organization."

Outside experts seem to agree with Wildermuth's description, as USAA has been named to Working Mother's list of "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers," Latina Style's "Latina Style 50" list of best employers for Hispanic females and Computerworld's list of 100 "Best Places to Work in IT."

Like most companies, USAA offers benefits including medical, dental and vision coverage, but its commitment to employee health goes further. On-site fitness centers, health clinics and wellness programs help promote healthy lifestyles. Physical therapy and massage therapy are available on site, as is group support for smoking cessation, weight management and cancer. USAA also provides free life insurance to employees and their families.

Equally impressive are its family-friendly policies. The company provides an on-site child-care center, which is open until 8:30 p.m. during the week and all day on Saturday. A special nursing-mothers room is available at the health clinic and on-site company stores provide basic necessities at a discount. USAA also provides up to $5,000 in adoption assistance, per child.

The company's focus on employees' well-being also covers their professional lives. USAA pays for classes and testing for professional designations and licensing, and tuition assistance of up to $5,250 per year is available for full-time employees.

USAA also offers some generous financial perks. An annual company bonus is available to all full-time and part-time employees in good standing (hired before Oct. 1 the previous year), and last year was equal to 18.3 percent of one's base salary. There's also a holiday bonus, which in 2004 was equivalent to two weeks salary, and all employees are eligible for spot bonuses between $100 and $5,000 for completing major projects, achieving significant milestones or exceeding their core responsibilities. USAA provides a 100 percent match on the first 6 percent of salary employees contribute to their 401(k) program and a company pension program in which employees are vested after five years of service.

"We believe there's no single key to attracting and retaining good employees," Wildermuth says. "That's why we've developed a broad array of benefits that speak to basic human needs for financial, professional and personal well-being."

The Golden 1 Credit Union

Type of company: Membership-based financial institution
Local staff: 1,000-plus
Home base: Sacramento
Website: golden1.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

Recognizing that employees are a company's greatest asset, The Golden 1 Credit Union has developed what Senior Vice President of Human Resources Tammy Eudy calls a "recipe for retention."

"We strive to create an environment that values trust, respect and teamwork," Eudy says. "We also work hard to show employees they are valued and appreciated, encourage open communication, and give them opportunities for personal and professional development."

For example, the company offers "Learning To Lead" training, a three-day course to help new supervisors and managers develop the leadership, technical and legal skills they will need to manage effectively.

Training isn't just a privilege enjoyed by management, however. The company offers technical training courses for various positions, and the company's e-Learning program provides employees at all levels with access to more than 500 different training courses, covering everything from software use to business communication, coaching and negotiation. Courses are available from home or work, 24 hours a day.

"We really encourage our employees to further their education," Eudy says. "In addition to the e-Learning courses offered, we'll provide full-time employees up to $5,250 annually in education reimbursement."

Specifically, the company encourages language classes and not only pays employees' costs for the classes, but provides a pay raise when employees become certified as bilingual.

Of course, it's not all work at The Golden 1. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, employees can take advantage of on-site massage therapy for a minimal cost, and the company also contributes $15 per month toward any certified program geared toward a healthy lifestyle (gym membership, smoking cessation, weight loss, etc.)

There also are benefits for employees outside of work. One example is "Take a Taxi on Us," which assists employees who find themselves in a situation where they shouldn't be driving. Taxis are provided at no cost, and with no questions asked.

For employees serving in the military reserves, the company expanded its military leave benefits in 2003 to include paying any employee called to active duty the difference between their military pay and their pay at The Golden 1 for up to 12 months.

At the heart of it all is a belief that satisfied employees are good for business.

"We feel that happy employees make for happy Golden 1 members," Eudy says.

InfoPros

Type of company: Staffing service agency for business and government clients Local staff: 35
Home base: Folsom
Website: infopros.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

Fun and a spirit of teamwork are the most important elements of the environment at InfoPros, which has ridden the high-tech roller coaster and is enjoying a growth phase.

"We focus really hard on who we hire because we're a smaller company and we have to work with each other every day," says Caroline Drakeley, InfoPros president and CEO. "It should be a fun and rewarding place to work."

The fun starts on Mondays, as it should, with Krispy Kremes for the staff and continues into special events, or "game days," every quarter, such as golf, bowling and movie trips. That's on top of activities to cheer on the Sacramento Kings with contests like "who can wear the most purple," desk decorating and Nerf basketball shot contests. Sometimes there are prizes, such as gift certificates for the winners; other times it's just friendly competition in the spirit of employee bonding.

As for the rewards, the company makes it a priority to recognize great work. Drakeley says InfoPros uses seven "critical success factors" to spur employees to greater heights, represented by the acronym CLIENTS, which stands for Customer Satisfaction, Leadership, Integrity, Employee Responsibility, New Business, Teamwork and Superior Quality.

"When an employee does a great job that exemplifies one of our critical success factors, we recognize that with a certificate of excellence and a gift certificate," Drakeley says. "Once a quarter, I also review all the entries and distribute a cash bonus to employees based on how they've contributed toward demonstrating our CSFs."

The company also offers "staff meeting bonuses" (usually movie tickets) to reward punctuality, and Kings tickets for employees who exceed what's expected in meeting client needs.

On top of a competitive list of standard benefits (health plan, vacation time, etc.), InfoPros contributes 3 percent of an employee's salary to a 401(k) program, regardless of any employee contributing. A profit-sharing program feeds into a retirement plan that vests over five years; financial assistance for training and professional development; and an emphasis on work/life balance.

This work/life balance is supported by allowing employees time off when they ask for it, whether to take care of family or just to get a break after completing a major project. Drakeley says she tries hard to set an example by taking time off herself, and says walking the talk when it comes to work/life balance creates stronger loyalty.

"When you tell your employees that you believe in balancing work life with home life, they are more loyal to the company," she says. "Usually at 5 p.m., most employees are gone. And that's OK because they rarely miss a day of work, unless they're sick or on vacation. It's all about creating a working environment that shows employees we believe in them, support them and lets them have a life beyond the cubicle."

EDAW, Inc.

Type of company: Environmental planning, natural resources management, design and landscape architecture
Local staff: 80
Home base: Sacramento
Website: edaw.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

At EDAW, there's a philosophy that it's not the company that makes for a great place to work, it's the people who make up the company.

"The most important thing for us is to create a caring and supportive work environment that fosters collaboration, creativity, career growth and [one] in which our staff feel valued for what they contribute as professionals and who they are as people," says Sydney Coatsworth, vice president with EDAW in Sacramento.

That can be a challenge for a company that's more than doubled in size locally in the past five years and is continuing to grow. If recent recognition as one of Sacramento's Workplace Excellence Leaders by the Sacramento Area Human Resources Association is any indicator, however, EDAW is making it work.

Among the tenets of the company's culture is maintaining a balance between employees' work and nonwork lives. At EDAW, that starts at the top.

In 2001, EDAW's board of directors adopted promotion of work/life balance as a new core value for the company.

That core value has translated into a host of programs and perks for employees. For starters, the company uses workload-planning software and holds weekly meetings to ensure work is well-distributed. Other programs allow employees to work flexible hours, telecommute, donate vacation time to other employees or work part time. Another perk unusual in the consulting world is a compressed work week, wherein employees who work nine hours Monday through Thursday can take every other Friday off.

"In our view, the key to attracting and retaining good employees is culture," Coatsworth says. "In Sacramento, we've developed a culture where our leaders serve employees, give generously in support of each other and exhibit compassion in messages and actions. We believe the result is high employee satisfaction and is one secret to business success."

Lyon Real Estate

Type of company: Residential real estate
Local staff: 1,050
Home base: Sacramento
Website: golyon.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

It’s one thing to encourage your employees to maintain balance in their lives; it’s quite another to publish a monthly newsletter about it.

“Balance is something we chant about; it’s that important to us,” says Michael Lyon, CEO of Lyon Real Estate. “For us, balance is about helping employees to stay happy, do good work and have enough energy at the end of their day for themselves and their families.”

The company takes the concept of balance so seriously that it actually has four rules concerning what employees should consider their priorities. No. 1 is “you first,” which means employees should focus on keeping themselves healthy mentally and physically. The next priority is “significant other,” followed by “family” and last, “the company.”

“Every month, we publish an employee newsletter with tips on how to stay balanced,” Lyon says. “We want people to prioritize things so they realize the company isn’t their life.”

Encouraging balance is not the company’s only investment in its employees, however. In addition to a competitive benefits package and profit-sharing program, the company emphasizes education. A department within the company, “Lyon University,” has been developed to provide continuing education for employees at all levels.

“In the real estate world, there’s so much to keep up with,” Lyon says. “We think it’s important to help employees enhance their skill base because if they can do their job better and more efficiently, they make better money and have less stress in their jobs. I think anyone would agree that’s a good thing.”

It’s likely this has played a role in the company doubling its size throughout the past five years and earning the rank of No. 1 independent real estate broker in Northern California on Real Trends’ list of “Top Performing Companies” in 2003.

One only has to spend a few minutes talking to Michael Lyon to see that taking care of employees is more than a good business strategy, however.

“We cherish our employees, and we believe our company’s reputation is a product of how we care for our people,” Lyon says. “When we take good care of our people, they take good care of our clients. There’s no better representative for a company than a happy employee.”

PARASEC

Type of company: Nationwide
document filing and retrieval
Local staff: 56
Home base: Sacramento
Website: parasec.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

At Parasec, if an employee wants to come to work in jeans and flip-flops, that’s OK.

Of course, when a company’s culture centers on putting employees’ needs first, or when it purchases a barbecue so managers can cook for the staff from time to time, a casual dress code is a mere blip among other perks that reward good performance and strengthen a sense of loyalty.

“The most important thing for our company is our people,” says Lynn Conner, Parasec’s president. “We work hard to hire the right people who will believe in and thrive in the company culture.”

That company culture involves a blend of providing cash incentives, focusing on family and serving the community.

In addition to paying employees $100 for making suggestions that save money, improve productivity or improve morale, the company gives small cash bonuses for outstanding performance, such as acing a pop quiz following a training session or meeting a pre-established goal on a project. The company also rewards individual employees and whole departments with profit-sharing bonuses, and contributes to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

“The ESOP/employee ownership environment breaks down a lot of the traditional communication barriers,” Conner says. “Ideas from all employees are encouraged and listened to. That helps create a close, familylike environment.”

On the subject of families, the company’s philosophy is that family should be the most important thing in one’s life. Employees are allowed to bring children to work when there’s a mild illness or day-care conflict, and special accommodations are made for new mothers.

Likewise, employees are rarely asked to work overtime.

“We work from 8:30 to 5:30, and you can bet our doors lock at 5:30,” Conner says. “That’s when managers will walk through the office and shoo out employees who are still at work.”

Finally, the company makes a commitment to support the community by “adopting” needy families during the holidays, contributing to local charities and encouraging employees to serve as volunteers.

“I think [philanthropy] plays an important role in employees’ perception of the company,” Conner says. “It shows our commitment to our core philosophies and our belief in the importance of family and community.”

SHARI’S BERRIES, INC.

Type of company: Specialty edibles
and gifts
Local staff: 26
Home base: Sacramento
Website: berries.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

It’s hard to beat having a job where if you make a mistake, you can eat it.

Shari Fitzpatrick started Shari’s Berries in 1989 with a dream of making the world’s greatest chocolate-dipped strawberries. Most anyone who’s sampled one of her creations would agree she’s succeeded, and built a very successful company along the way. That success is due mostly to the popularity of her product, but it’s also due to Fitzpatrick’s respect for her employees.

“I once read that employees will only take care of customers as well as the company takes care of the employees, and I really believe that to be true,” Fitzpatrick says.

In addition to a competitive benefits package that includes profit-sharing and a 401(k) program, employees get a 50 percent discount on the company’s products and once a month may send an arrangement of Shari’s Berries to a recipient of their choice.

“It’s no accident I ended up in the gift industry,” Fitzpatrick says. “I love giving gifts, and when you work for me, you get a lot of them.”

As examples, employees receive cash bonuses on their hiring anniversaries, and they get a gift on their birthdays. Also, each employee who beats his or her monthly sales quota may take one free gift from “Shari’s Closet,” an actual closet at the company’s distribution center filled with jewelry, restaurant coupons and other prizes.

Valentine’s Day is always a special—and busy—time for the company. In three days of work, the company earns one-sixth of its annual revenue.

“I pick out something special for the staff to thank them for all their hard work, as they live and breathe strawberries that week,” Fitzpatrick says. “This year, all the girls received diamond necklaces and all the guys got Kings tickets.”

It’s not uncommon for Fitzpatrick to surprise her team members with free trips at the end of the year, fun gifts at Easter and big parties in December and May, to celebrate the end of another busy season.

“I know how hard my employees work, because I used to do their job,” Fitzpatrick says. “As I grew the company, I was a dipper, delivery girl, answered phones, whatever needed doing. As a result, I have a great deal of respect for my employees and the jobs they do, and it’s important to show them they’re respected and appreciated.”

PACIFIC COAST COMPANIES, INC.

Type of company: Manufacturing and distributing of building products
Local staff: 148
Home base: Rancho Cordova
Website: paccoast.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

At Pacific Coast Companies, Inc., showing employees their value extends beyond the time they spend working at the company and spreads to their families.

“We have a 100 percent company-provided retirement plan, in which employees become vested after five years,” says Ruth Wimberly, PCCI’s human resources director. “That’s in addition to a 401(k) program with a company match.”

Several years ago, the company also established a college or accredited trade school scholarship program to help the children—and grandchildren—of employees complete their education. PCCI also provides fully subsidized medical and dental care to current (pre-2005) employees and their families.

Perks such as these reflect a genuine sense of caring for employees, says Wimberly. “That’s more than just words; it’s a commitment supported by actions, because [employee] social morale is very important here,” she says.

Innovative ways the company builds this morale include a Halloween celebration, where employees decorate their offices and then bring their children in to go trick-or-treating. In addition, department supervisors are given free rein to promote team unity by having off-site activities, such as white-water rafting, during working hours.

Caring for employees extends to their physical and emotional health. PCCI provides discounts to employees enrolling in participating fitness centers, pays half of an employee’s enrollment in Weight Watchers and offers a monetary bonus for employees who successfully quit smoking.   
 
The company also provides employees and their families with personal and career support services at no charge through its Employee Assistance Program.

Placing special emphasis on professional development, the company will provide financial assistance to an employee who takes job-related college courses. Once a year, PCCI managers hold an eight-day seminar called “Career Empowerment Opportunities” to give location managers insight into various aspects of running a business.

And perhaps the best perk of all (and a homeowner’s dream): building products available at or slightly above cost. Now that’s hard to beat.

MALOOF SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT

Type of company: Owner and operator of the Sacramento Kings, Sacramento Monarchs and Arco Arena
Local staff: 1,200
Home base: Sacramento
Website: kings.com, arcoarena.com, sacramentomonarchs.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

If you think having a job with a company that runs a major NBA team sounds cool, try working for one that also embodies “Maloofian values.”

“To be Maloofian is to create a positive experience for customers at every place they interact with the company,” says Sonja Brown, senior director of public relations for Maloof Sports and Entertainment. “That spirit extends to every one of our employees, who we call team members, because Joe and Gavin [Maloof] really believe our employees are also one of our most important customer groups.”

Within the Maloof organization, every effort is made to provide an environment where everyone is valued, innovation is welcome and successes are celebrated as a team.

 Nowhere is that philosophy more embraced than in the Maloof All-Stars Program, which recognizes employees across all levels for outstanding performance and rewards them with trips, cash, gift certificates and other prizes.

The All-Stars Program is only one of the company’s cool perks. In addition to a benefits package that includes a 401(k) program with an employer contribution, team members enjoy company-sponsored group outings, parties and performance-based cash bonuses. Also, what a better work environment than one where your “office” is a basketball game or rock concert?

Maloofian values aren’t confined to the walls of Arco Arena. Joe and Gavin Maloof were taught as children to give back to their community, and that’s a philosophy encouraged among and embraced by employees.
“We surveyed team members and the majority of them wanted more ways to participate in the community,” Brown says. “That’s why Joe and Gavin developed the opportunity for team members to participate in three of the organization’s community service events: Read To Achieve in October, Season of Giving in December and the Cesar Chavez Day of Volunteerism in March.”

 Brown says when employees can participate in philanthropy, it helps build a strong sense of team spirit. This helps the company do business more effectively and creates an environment where employees are more likely to share ideas, ask questions and know their contributions are valued.

“We strive to create a place where people feel they have the opportunity to be their very best and know they’ll be recognized for it,” Brown says. “When people have that kind of empowerment, they get more fulfillment out of their jobs and actually enjoy coming to work.”

RIVER CITY BANK

Type of company: Banking and
financial services for businesses and
individuals
Local staff: 180
Home base: Sacramento
Website: rcbank.com
Hiring status: Seeking applications

A great source of pride for Jeanne Reaves, president and CEO of River City Bank, is that job applicants frequently seek the company out for the great quality of life it offers.

“We focus on open communication, a family-friendly environment and an investment in the well-being of our employees,” Reaves says. “We believe that kind of company culture fosters greater teamwork and helps us attract and keep A players in the workplace.”

Open communication literally starts at the ground level. River City Bank’s corporate offices were constructed with glass walls and doors to facilitate interaction between managers and employees. Reaves encourages employees to contact her directly with ideas or concerns, regardless of their position within the bank. The idea is that open communication prevents management from making decisions that staff can’t carry out and ensures everyone has a common vision and goal.

Reaves says management understands that sometimes family concerns are more important than work. That’s why, in addition to allowing flexible scheduling and time off, the company throws a party once a year for employees’ families to thank them for giving up time with their loved ones so they can make River City Bank successful.

Part of the company culture involves a commitment to show employees they are valued. Medical benefits begin soon after hiring—the first of the month after 30 days of employment—and are available to both full-time and part-time employees. All employees get free banking services and a discount on loans, a 401(k) plan with a 100 percent match on up to the first 6 percent of wages and free financial advice from a registered financial planner.

Oftentimes it’s the little things that make a company a great place to work. Every Friday, free popcorn flows from the company’s movie-style poppers all day, machines at each location dispense free espresso, cappuccinos, lattes and mochas, and employment anniversaries are recognized with gifts ranging from jewelry to luggage to home furnishings. Above all, employees seem to value the spirit of teamwork that comes with the job.

“Over and over, employees tell me they feel like they’re part of a team, that no matter where they are in the organization, they feel like there’s always someone willing to pitch in and help when needed,” Reaves says. “They say we’re not just co-workers, we’re friends.”