Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Top Workplaces 2010

Top Workplaces 2010

Welcome to Top Workplaces 2010, an extensive effort to uncover the best employers in the Philadelphia region - from the workers' point of view.
Pat "The Bowler" Kreioler bowls with the Wii system in the lunchroom at Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd. Federal Credit Union in Chalfont, while her colleagues watch. She bowled a 203 and was the winner for the afternoon.
Bonnie Weller / Staff Photographer
Pat "The Bowler" Kreioler bowls with the Wii system in the lunchroom at Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd. Federal Credit Union in Chalfont, while her colleagues watch. She bowled a 203 and was the winner for the afternoon.
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The lunchroom Wii, scholarships, weekly bring-your-dog-to-work days, four-hour Fridays, rafting trips, extra cash for gasoline, karaoke parties, picnics, pool tables, and a CEO as the ice cream man.

 

We asked companies about special perks for their employees, and how they foster workplace fun. Here are some of the things they do.

Cashiers, clerks, and stock people, among the several thousand who keep things humming at a family-owned grocery chain, have crowned Brown's Super Stores Inc. the top-rated large employer in the region this year.

 
'My coworkers are phenomenal'

The Graham Co., a commercial insurance brokerage, puts huge demands on employees. In exchange, owner William A. Graham IV plows money back into the firm. But it took more than perks to win top honors among medium-size companies.

 
'I feel empowered to make a difference'

Critics say American businesses often pay too much attention to the next quarter's results. At Chariot Solutions, which led the small-company pack in the Top Workplaces 2010 survey, management has charted a different course.

 
'I come to work with a smile on my face'
Watch a video of our provocative roundtable with Philadelphia´s top three CEOs as rated by their employees - Jeff Brown of Brown´s Super Stores, Harris Fishman of First Financial Group and Jeff Kaliner of Power Windows & Siding. (Sarah Glover / Staff Photographer)
Watch a video of our provocative roundtable with Philadelphia's top three CEOs as rated by their employees - Jeff Brown of Brown's Super Stores, Harris Fishman of First Financial Group and Jeff Kaliner of Power Windows & Siding. (Sarah Glover / Staff Photographer)

We brought together the three chief executives whom employees in our Top Workplaces 2010 survey chose as the Philadelphia region's top leaders to ask what it takes to be a great boss in today's lousy economy. Here is an edited transcript.

Jeff Brown joined Michelle Obama at this year's State of the Union address, an honor that recognized his efforts to bring full-fledged supermarkets with fresh foods to poor urban neighborhoods.

Note the tan: On the day we held our roundtable discussion, Harris Fishman had just flown in from Cancun, where he had treated 15 of his top performers and their significant others to four days of fun in the sun at the Ritz-Carlton.

Jeff Kaliner's company is a home-remodeling contractor specializing in energy-efficient windows, doors and vinyl siding. He has ramped up the business since our survey and now employs about 250 workers.

In the darkest days of the recession, some executives and business owners gave up bonuses and raises, or agreed to take pay cuts, to save jobs. Some even provided increases for their employees at the same time.

What employees said:
 
How they handled the economic downturn
 
Maintaining diversity in a tough economy

PhillyInc: Gather together 20 people in a room and you're likely to hear 20 different horror stories about how dreadful their work environment is. When is the last time you heard someone gush, "I have the best boss!"

SPECIAL AWARDS

For a crew of software developers, Chariot Solutions employees were notably un-Dilbert-like in their answers to our survey. Credit a company policy that lets workers spend 10 percent of their time indulging their inner geek.

Global Tax Management Inc., of Radnor, provides corporate tax services, which would seem like the very recipe for frustration. Part of the chill vibe may come from the company's employee stock plan. Part is intrinsic.

Valley Forge-based Vanguard has $1.3 trillion worth of people's nest eggs in its hands, so it may come as a relief to know that the company's employees rated their workplace higher for ethics and values than workers at any other firm.

Emergency on-site day care and a concierge desk that handles errands such as dry cleaning are two perks that help SEI Investments Co. employees juggle work and family.

A full-time workweek at CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., which has 178 employees locally, can be as short as 30 hours and still qualify for full benefits. The firm is also among the greener companies in the Fortune 500.

Special People in Northeast Inc. or SPIN is a non-profit organization that runs group homes, early-intervention programs for children, and a raft of community services, including rides to church or the mall. Efficient social services? In Philadelphia?

The vaunted training program of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. is like a college curriculum, with core requirements and electives at every stage from entry level to top management, and beyond.

CONTACT US
Direct questions or comments about this special section to BusinessNews@phillynews.com.
Delta Air Lines, which bought the former ConocoPhillips refinery in Trainer, Delaware County, to secure a steady source of discounted jet fuel, said Wednesday the refinery lost $41 million in the first quarter, but is expected to be profitable in the current June quarter.

The rocky economy has had an impact on the size, value and bottom line of many of the top 100 companies in the 10-county Philadelphia region, as well as on the total pay of their CEOs.

Bob Niemeyer arrives hours before Macy's opens and begins hanging sale signs, having been promoted to full-time, earning $8.50 an hour. He used to make $100,000 as an analyst. This Labor Day, his story provides a tough lesson.