Harrah’s an enjoyable place to work? You bet!

Eileen Smith Dallabrida, For

Updated: Friday, March 18, 2016, 3:01 AM

File: Gambling expert George Joseph displays deck of cards in the training room at Harrah's Chester Casino.

Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack doesn’t gamble when it comes to ensuring the business is a great place to work for its 1,300 employees.

There are employee appreciation events at least once a month and town hall-style team meetings, often with staffers in costumes. Supervisors are committed to mentoring rank-and-file workers. And in an operation that runs 24/7, Harrah’s nurtures balance between work and home life.

“We are in the entertainment business,” said Charles O’Hala, vice president of human resources. “We believe work should be fun.”

Those are a few of the reasons Harrah’s was named No. 1 in the 100 Top Workplaces of 2016, as determined by an annual survey of Philadelphia-area employees by Workplace Dynamics of Exton. Established in 2006, Harrah’s has been named to the list three times.

Engagement starts from the top down, O’Hala said. Instead of holing up in their offices, leaders spend lots of time on the floor with employees and guests.

“It works out to about 80 percent of their time, compared to about 20 percent on administrative tasks,” he noted.

Smile Cards, which can be redeemed for gifts, are handed to employees when they go the extra mile in engaging customers. There also are abundant opportunities for recreation, although staffers are not allowed to gamble on the premises.

Employees compete in an annual Olympics and monthly success celebrations, such a festive meal in the employee dining room with an upgraded menu and leaders acting as deejays.

“It’s not a powerpoint,” O’Hala said. “We build fun into our work day.”

That hands-on interaction with management has a positive impact on employees, according to comments gleaned from staff surveys.

“I am so appreciated by my manager supervisor and senior management,” said one worker. “They allow me to be the best I can be, they seek my opinions and take steps to help make me feel valued.”

Said another: “I love my job because there's a real sense of compassion, caring and motivation from the team members and along with the leadership team. If I'm ever in need of just about anything I know that I have someone to reach out to for assistance and or guidance.”

To ensure that employees enjoy life off the clock, they are encouraged to take all the vacation time they are entitled to, which ranges from 18 days a year for new employees to 33 days for workers with 19 or more years of service. Part-timers also receive pro-rated paid time off.

Schedulers accommodate employees as much as possible in in establishing shifts and days off.

“Inconsistency in scheduling creates dissatisfaction, so we avoid it,”O’Hala said.

That acknowledgement of work-life balance resonated with employees in the survey.

“It allows me to have the flexibility I want in a job while still pushing me to work hard,” said one employee. “I get recognized frequently and feel appreciated.”

Said another worker:“My managers and schedulers work effortlessly to provide me with work and family balance. We work as a team.”

Harrah’s is part of the Casesars Entertainment Corporation and O’Hala said employees appreciate opportunities to move throughout the more than 50 properties in the Caesars empire.

“There are a lot of us, myself included, who have benefited from working at a large company with lots of sister properties,” he said.

One longtime employee was able to keep working after the demise of a casino in Atlantic City.

“I worked at Showboat for almost 20 years, becoming part of Harrah's, thenCaesars,” the employee said. “(I could) stay inside this company after the Boat was closed. It's like family now.”

Eileen Smith Dallabrida, For

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