Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Philly.com Daily News Inquirer

Top Workplaces 2011

Top Workplaces 2011

Welcome to Top Workplaces 2011, an extensive effort to uncover the best employers in the Philadelphia region - from the workers' point of view.
Roberto Placencia, a dishwasher at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge in King of Prussia, where employees say they are encouraged to solve problems creatively. (Laurence Kesterson / Staff Photographer)
Roberto Placencia, a dishwasher at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge in King of Prussia, where employees say they are encouraged to solve problems creatively. (Laurence Kesterson / Staff Photographer)

The perks can be as important as the pay. They range from from massages and tai chi classes to free gift wrapping and fancy trips. Bonuses and some flexibility in hours also rate high with employees.


Does your workplace offer tai chi, gift wrapping, exotic trips, or Fridays off in the summer? We asked companies what special perks they offer workers. Here are some of the things they do.


The fact that companies are willing to go the extra distance can mean a lot.

The big question: Who gets the Eagles tickets?

As the housing downturn grinds agonizingly into its fifth year, it is difficult to imagine that anyone working in real estate would be positively giddy about the job. It is said that the energy at the firm is contagious.

'I love my clients'

Adam Kaliner began selling windows part time in college, and with his cousin, Jeff, later parlayed that into a $130 million-a-year home-remodeling business in Delaware County.

'I get to advocate for others'

At Energy Plus Holdings L.L.C., there is no competition over who gets to occupy the corner office. There are no corner offices.

'The workplace is almost like a family setting'

In two lively outtakes from our CEO roundtable, our top bosses go back and forth about one of their toughest responsibilities, letting people go. Then, they kick back and talk about one of their favorites: handing out game tickets.

Joining the discussion are Jeff Kaliner, co-founder and CEO, Power Home Remodeling Group; Bill McNabb, chairman and CEO, the Vanguard Group, and Tom Spann, CEO, Accolade Inc.



Their employees hold them up as the best in the Philadelphia region. But in a roundtable talk, it's clear that these company executives, ranked tops in our Top Workplaces 2011 survey,  do not consider themselves to be on a pedestal. Here, an edited transcript of their give-and-take.

Bill McNabb became CEO 22 years after joining Vanguard. This Wharton grad is known as being approachable and believable.

Jeff Kaliner heads a company with about 900 employees. But ask him where he fits in, and he'll say he's just one of them.

Tom Spann's leadership motto is to look out for his company's employees as well as his company's clients. He is labeled a strong thinker.

Newly published HR research says that although management still matters, workers are at least partly responsible for job satisfaction. “The opposite of engagement isn’t disengagement,” says co-author Rudy  Karsan, “it’s apathy.”

Going forward
How companies see the signs of recovery
Qualities that the ideal hire will have

Rejoice! More people quit their jobs in December than were laid off or fired. And that, say the numbers crunchers, is a good sign. Some of these workers might have left companies considered the best places to work. Yet there is no firm definition for job satisfaction.


Talk about your high-wire juggling acts: The 58 employees at Charon Planning serve clients that run the gamut from NASCAR to Bryn Mawr College. They are expected to bring their “A” game to any situation.

The benefits package at the Graham Co., an insurance brokerage in Center City, reminds us of our Great Aunt Alice, except that it doesn’t pinch cheeks. Getting married? You get a check. Have a baby? Ditto.

For a “heritage” brand in the prosaic soup, sauce, and beverages trade, Campbell Soup uses surprisingly sophisticated technology to keep its employees in the loop. But there's also a taste of comfort food.

“Candor” and “integrity” aren’t just words on an inspirational poster at Weston Solutions. Candor could mean coming clean when you goof. Integrity gets discussed and applied to everyday behavior.

Employees at Philadelphia’s Mastery Charter Schools graded their organization the best in the region as a place for employees to learn and grow. One thing they cited: Critiques modeling private-sector practices.

Staff at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge are encouraged to define quality for themselves and do it on the fly. For instance, they could satisty a guest's quandary with a solution that delivers a surprise.


ViroPharma employees enjoy the usual complement of seminars, webinars, and computer training that forward-thinking employers offer to keep employees’ skills sharp. And then there’s “Lunch and Learn.”

Direct questions or comments about this special section to BusinessNews@phillynews.com.

Last year's premier edition of the Top Workplaces survey.

When the SeaLand Atlantico cargo ship arrived at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in South Philadelphia before dawn Thursday, it was the first time that fresh produce, meat, beer, and electronics traveled directly from the Gulf of Mexico to Philadelphia on an ocean route.

The Inquirer's annual survey of executive pay tells you which CEOs in the Philadelphia area - or whose companies have operations here - made the most money, gained the most in 2010 and more. Includes an interactive list.

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.