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Companies across the Wasatch Front racked up special awards for creating environments that excel in a variety of areas from encouraging new ideas to supporting a balance between work and life as part of the Top Workplaces survey by WorkplaceDynamics.
Chief executives at two of the No. 1-ranked companies, CHG Healthcare Services' Scott Beck and Diversified Insurance Group's Spence Hoole, were recognized for their leadership. Gardner Village CEO Joe Long won the leadership award among midsize companies.
At Gardner Village, owners and siblings Long and Angie Gerdes like to say CEO stands for "customers are first, then employees and owners are last," says controller Mark Bradley. "They expect a lot from their people, but then they also take good care of [their employees] and make sure they are being as fair as possible."
Thumbtack, the best place to work on the Wasatch Front among medium-size companies, scored the highest marks for heading in the right direction.
Employees at a customer-support center in Sandy are thrilled with the potential of the rapidly growing, San Francisco-based tech firm, which helps people accomplish projects big and small by connecting them with area professionals.
"We will be the next Amazon or Google," a Thumbtack worker writes in comments to pollsters. " ... I really do believe that."
People seeking a workplace with a supportive manager should consider applying at one of InterContinental Hotels Group's outlets, perhaps a Holiday Inn, or its reservations center in Salt Lake City.
The international hotel company won the special award for having managers who help you grow, who care about your concerns and who make it easier to do your job.
One employee says the managers "give back positive feedback and never really get down on you in a way that makes you feel bad."
"They do all they can to help you when you have a problem," the worker adds, "and are considerate to what might be influencing your struggle."
For an ad agency, empowering employees to share new ideas isn't just a workplace perk, it's also an essential piece of the business model. Penna Powers snagged the special award for New Ideas.
Chuck Penna, CEO and founding partner, says the company has thrived for 30 years by applying one fundamental rule: "the best idea wins."
"When you come to a meeting, it doesn't matter if you're a senior person or new to the business," Penna says. "We value people's ideas."
Representatives from every department meet monthly in a group dubbed "The Innovation Lab" to develop new ways to market their clients' brands, such as 3D ads on Facebook.
"Technology is changing the face of our business," Penna says. "In branding and in the media, we are always looking to stay ahead, to be on the leading edge."
Employees at Brighton Home Health and Hospice love that things get done efficiently and well. The Murray caregiver wins the Doers award.
"I've never worked with people who are so knowledgeable and have as much experience as the people at Brighton," an employee writes. " ... We have very little turn over. ... When people join our team, they want to stay. Employees are recognized and rewarded."
Shriners Hospitals for Children Salt Lake City treats children with orthopedic conditions regardless of their ability to pay.
It's common for children to make their first visit to the hospital as a young child and then be seen every 12 to 18 months thereafter until age 21, says hospital administrator Kevin Martin. The children are often on a first-name basis with their health-care providers.
"The thing that really makes the employees feel good about where they work is the close personal relationships they develop with families and their children," Martin says. "People really feel like they are making a difference."
SelectHealth employees tout their Murray-based company's values and ethics.
"I believe SelectHealth strives to do the right thing for the right reasons," comments one worker.
"I have always felt like they truly care about the community," writes another, "and improving overall health with different initiatives and research."
One employee lauds the company's "culture for doing the right thing for our customer, and a culture that encourages improved health care."
Clued-in senior management
Senior managers "understand what is really happening" at Young Automotive Group in Layton, according to survey results.
They are "united in their vision for the company," comments one worker, "[and] concerned for the well-being of all employees."
Murray-based HealthInsight earned kudos for keeping their workers well informed of important decisions.
Employees point to coordination meetings, a company intranet news site, leadership updates, emails and face-to-face encounters.
Employees at Executech in South Jordan say they feel genuinely appreciated. In comments to pollsters, they frequently mention owner Eric Montague as a reason they love their jobs.
"Eric is by far, the best employer I have ever worked for," an Executech employee writes. "Eric genuinely cares about me and my family and regularly expresses his gratitude for working hard."
More than a third of employees at the American Express call center in Taylorsville have been with the corporation for at least 10 years.
The company's focus on work/life balance is a key factor in its ability to retain staffers. Not only does American Express offer flexible scheduling and the ability to work from home, but it also emphasizes a "healthy living" culture, says Victor Ingalls, a vice president and general manager of the Taylorsville office.
Employees enjoy a cafeteria with healthy food choices, a fitness facility with free classes and a wellness center that offers everything from free dental exams and skin-cancer screenings to consultations with a dietitian and a health coach.
Supporting a healthy lifestyle at work reduces employees' overall stress, Ingalls says, and it means they have to spend less of their personal time trekking to doctor or gyms.
"It contributes in massive ways to their overall engagement as employees," he says. "Obviously, once you have higher engaged employees, that will be felt by the customers, which in turn will be felt by the shareholders."
Prestige Financial in Salt Lake City was honored for giving employees the training they need to be successful in their careers.
"We have tons of training [here] at Prestige," one worker says. "I think the six-week program for new hires is the best training. I have never worked for a company that values [their] employees enough to do that."
Utah Retirement Systems, the Salt Lake City-based agency responsible for providing retirement and insurance benefits to Utah's public employees, earns the special award for benefits from its own workers.
URS employees participate in the state's pension and health insurance programs. They enjoy tuition reimbursement and paid wellness leave. Workers also single out the 401(k) program, transit passes and paid sick leave.
Leadership, Large Company • Scott Beck, CHG Healthcare Services, Cottonwood Heights
Leadership, Midsize Company • Joe Long, Gardner Village, West Jordan
Leadership, Small Company • Spence Hoole, Diversified Insurance Group, Salt Lake City
Direction • Thumbtack, San Francisco
Managers • IHG InterContinental Hotels Group, Atlanta
New Ideas • Penna Powers, Salt Lake City
Doers • Brighton Home Health and Hospice, Murray
Meaningfulness • Shriners Hospitals for Children Salt Lake City, Tampa, Fla.
Ethics • SelectHealth, Murray
Clued-In Senior Management • Young Automotive Group, Layton
Communication • HealthInsight, Murray
Appreciation • Executech, South Jordan
Work/Life Flexibility • American Express, New York
Training • Prestige Financial, Salt Lake City
Benefits • Utah Retirement Systems, Salt Lake City