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2019 TOP WORKPLACES For profiles of all the companies featured in this section go to stltoday.com/business/workplaces

SUNDAY • 06.23.2019

DAVID CARSON, DCARSON@POST-DISPATCH.COM


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TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

stltoday.com


How Top Workplaces are identified BY BOB HELBIG

Energage

ow does a company make the Top Workplaces list? By inspiring employees. “Top Workplaces put the employee at the center of things and focus on creating the right environment to unleash potential and inspire performance,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage, the Post-Dispatch’s research partner for Top Workplaces. This is the eighth year the Post-Dispatch partnered with Philadelphia-based Energage to determine the greater St. Louis area’s Top Workplaces. The results are based solely on a scientific employee survey process. Starting in January, the Post-Dispatch welcomed anyone to nominate companies as Top Workplaces. Energage also reached out to companies. In all, 1,286 employers in the region were invited to take part in the process. Any employer was eligible, as long as it had at least 50 employees in the greater St. Louis area. Employers could be public, private, nonprofit or governmental. There is no cost to enter the Top Workplaces program. For this year, 222 organizations agreed to take the survey. Combined, they employ 94,356 people in the St. Louis area. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 46,194 responded, either on paper or online. For this year’s winners list, 150 St. Louis-area employers earned recognition as Top Workplaces based on the employee feedback. The employee engagement survey of 24 questions gathers responses regarding

H

stltoday.com

Workplace satisfaction The Post-Dispatch and Energage surveyed employees across the region about their job satisfaction. The importance values below show how strongly each factor correlates with how employees in the St. Louis area rate their workplaces. The closer the number is to 100 percent, the more important the factor is to employees. I believe this company is going in the right direction 76.58%

I feel genuinely appreciated at this company 73.23%

This company enables me to work at my full potential 72.57%

My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful 70.84%

Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company 69.94%

This company operates by strong values 68.99%

This company encourages different points of view 68.55%

I have confidence in the leader of this company 67.35%

At this company, we do things efficiently and well 65.74%

My manager cares about my concerns 64.46%

New ideas are encouraged at this company 64.41%

Meetings at this company make good use of my time 62.43%

Employee health and wellness is a priority at this company 62.38%

My manager helps me learn and grow 62.08%

There is good inter-departmental cooperation at this company 61.21%

I feel well-informed about important decisions at this company 60.14%

People with a wide variety of backgrounds do well at this company 59.84%

I get the formal training I want for my career 59.73%

My manager makes it easier to do my job well 59.63%

This job has met or exceeded the expectations I had when I started 59.27%

I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life 49.13%

My pay is fair for the work I do 48.32%

My benefits package is good compared to others in this industry 35.36%

issues relating to workplace culture: ALIGNMENT – where the company is headed, its values, cooperation CONNECTION – employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful EFFECTIVENESS – doing things efficiently and well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas MY MANAGER – cares about concerns, helps employees develop ENGAGEMENT – motivation, retention and recruiting LEADERSHIP – confidence in company leaders THE BASICS – pay, benefits, flexibility, training, expectations Employees consistently rate issues of “connection” and “alignment” most important to them, while statements related to pay and benefits rate less important. Employers are ranked among groups of similar size to most accurately compare results. Within those size groupings, companies are ranked, and those that score high enough are recognized as Top Workplaces. Energage also determines special award winners based on standout scores on specific survey topics. If you wonder why a particular company is not on the list, it might be because it chose not to participate in the survey, or because it did not score well enough in the survey process. Sometimes, Energage disqualifies employers based on questionable results detected through statistical tests it runs to ensure organizations are accurately administering the survey. To participate in the 2020 program, go to stltoday.com/nominate. 06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

3


BR A N D AV E. ST U DIOS CON T EN T

A closer look at what makes Renewal byAndersen shine in St. Louis Sponsored content by Lori Rose, Brand Ave. Studios Contributing Writer

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ince acquiring the St. Louis affiliate of Renewal by Andersen in 2013, Paul Birner has grown the replacement window business from seven employees to more than 150 and from $7 million to $32 million in annual sales. He attributes the growth in part to building a workplace where employees enjoy working and want to excel. And where everyone knows the customer is king. “We had a really good core to begin with, and we’ve taken a lot of pains to hire the right people,” Birner said. “And even though we’ve grown, we’re still a family. Everyone here calls me by my first name and they know how important it is to me to keep our reputation top notch and to keep customer satisfaction high. We talk all the time about how we can improve our service to our customers because without our customers, we’re out of business.” Renewal by Andersen of St. Louis was selected as one of 75 winners in the small employer category of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Top Workplaces contest. The company, a division of Minnesota-based Andersen Corp., a century-old window and door maker, touts a hassle-free process that includes an

in-home consultation and custom-manufactured, energy-efficient replacement windows and doors that are professionally installed. A customer care specialist is assigned to keep the customer in the loop throughout the entire process. Paul Birner himself makes it a point to call homeowners after each project is complete to make sure the job was done to the customer’s satisfaction. He also sends along a tin of chocolate chip cookies as a thank you. If there’s a problem, he said, “we step up to the plate immediately to make it right.” The St. Louis affiliate is among the highest-ranked in a nationwide network of more than 100 for customer satisfaction. In fact, it won the top corporate honor, the Green Diamond Award, five years running, Birner said. The success led him to move into two additional markets — Springfield, Mo., in 2017 and Memphis, Tenn., earlier this year. Birner’s sons, Blake and Austin both work side by side with him daily. “Austin has done such a great job building our sales force,” Paul Birner said, adding that affiliates around the country send new employees to him for training. “They’re constantly sending people to shadow him for two or three days.”

Company employees in front of new location. Photo provided by Renewal by Andersen

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TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

L to R: Austin Birner, Paul Birner, Sheena Yocum, Brian Price. Photo provided by Renewal by Andersen

What sets Renewal by Andersen apart as an employer is the emphasis Birner places on making sure his employees feel appreciated and like part of the family. “We spend a lot of time thanking our employees,” said Birner, who received the top owner/general manager award last year at the corporate awards dinner. “Everyone here bleeds RBA and I love that. They feel like this is their company.” From holiday parties and celebrations to monthly financial incentives designed to reward good work — such as exceptional customer service or superior workmanship — employees feel the spirit of partnership. “Everybody is motivated to do a good job,” Austin Birner said. Last year, Paul Birner made an investment into his employees’ comfort, moving into a spacious and inviting facility in Maryland Heights that features all-new office furniture,

flooring and technology. A state-of-the art warehouse features new racking systems, forklifts and a drive-through to make it easier for crews to load up for a job. “We invested a lot of money into making it easier for everyone to come to work and to making sure they’re happy,” Birner said.

Visit rbastl.com/careers to join our team. This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios in collaboration with Renewal by Andersen. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact tgriffin@stltoday.com. stltoday.com


PROUD TO BE A ST LOUIS TOP WORKPLACE. Thank You To Our Employee Family For All Your Hard Work.

We Are Always Looking For New Talent To Join Our Award Winning Team CONTACT US rbastl.com/careers • (314) 983-9977 stltoday.com

06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

5


Technology shapes

CULTURE The right tools can fuel dialogue, promote collaboration BY DOUG CLAFFEY

Energage

T

echnology is influencing the culture of your workplace. The question is, will it create intended positive results or sidetrack the organization’s mission?

Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage

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TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

Powerful tools are giving leaders deeper understanding of their organization’s culture and work dynamics. They also provide a way to get ahead of issues that could handicap success. We see this as an emerging field of “culture technology,” a multidisciplinary, science-based approach to improve workplace culture. It seeks to help everyone — from senior leaders to rookie employees — collaborate to build an intentional and purposeful culture. We have seen Top Workplaces solicit feedback and drive meaningful dialogue with employees in a way that builds trust and makes employees feel heard. For example, companies are using short pulse questions in between annual surveys to track progress throughout the year. Others have set up anonymous channels where employees can provide feedback in a safe way. One medical records digitization company used anonymous employee feedback to address barriers to growth. Over the last four years, it expanded from 400 to more than 1,000 employees without losing sight of its culture. Leaders of Top Workplaces know culture is the foundation of success, and they know how to use technology to create a better work environment. The challenge is looking past the obvious role of technology — efficiency and speed – and understanding how to engage the human spirit. The new confluence of disciplines has the potential to substantially improve the key relationships that make up our work experience, from a person’s relationship with their work, their manager, colleagues — and the organization itself. This requires going beyond traditional internal commu-

nications efforts such as town halls, executive videocasts, or IM-jams. It involves setting up communication channels employees can use to collaborate, build community, recognize one another and provide candid feedback without fear of repercussion or exposure. In the big picture, we know technology is a huge point of discussion and debate, from privacy to security issues. Still, we’re all slaves to our email and instant messaging channels. We’re getting a higher quality of life in the microinstant, but in the broader sense, it’s not clear what we’re getting accomplished, certainly in terms of work. The amount of time we spend communicating and the amount of time we spend working influences productivity, which is not demonstrably going up. Developing quality channels of communication in the workplace focuses on aligning and connecting. Culture technology can provide a level of insight into your culture and shape how to make it better. When done right, technology brings people together. And that’s important, because alignment is a key pillar for any high-performing organization. But when done wrong, technology polarizes people. So, how do you use technology for good in the workplace? Start with an approach that celebrates the positive aspects of your culture, and build real connections based on trust and appreciation. Constructively channel negative emotions that inevitably arise and educate senior leaders to accept and act on the feedback. If we are intentional about how technology affects our culture, we can create more productive workplaces, truly aligned teams, stronger connections, a better coaching environment. Think about how technology is going to impact your culture. Focus on a Top Workplace culture as an outcome. That’s the best use of technology, and it drives better business results. Doug Claffey is CEO and co-founder of Energage, a culture technology firm that specializes in employee engagement and workplace improvement research.

stltoday.com


Thank you to the Drury team for your dedication and commitment to our guests and each other.

President & CEO

Drury team members love it here and so would you!

DruryCareers.com

Servicing your your favorites favorites in the midwest midwest for over over 100 years! 704 Kuna Industrial Drive, Dupo, IL. 62239 stltoday.com

618.286.4000

www.kunafoodservice.com 06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

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BR A N D AV E. ST U DIOS CON T EN T

Cushman &Wakefield creates great places to work for clients and employees Sponsored content by Cushman & Wakefield

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ushman & Wakefield understands what makes a great place to work – after all, we’ve been creating great places to work for our clients in St. Louis and beyond for more than 90 years. And despite being the market leader in greater St. Louis with nearly 1,400 employees, we’re not ready to stop investing in our people and what matters most to them.

AT THE CENTER OF

WHAT’S NEXT Thank you to our employees for ranking Cushman & Wakefield a Top Workplace in St. Louis. We work hard to develop and empower a culture that unleashes what’s possible in every person we hire. When our people & clients reflect the world around us, we succeed.

cushmanwakefield.com

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TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

Employee coffee bar at the Portfolio Services Center. Photo provided by Cushman & Wakefield

That includes creating places where people love to spend half their day. For example, when we renovated our Portfolio Services Center (PSC) at 575 Maryville Centre Drive in Town and Country, home to more than 600 employees, we created modern, functional space for today’s employee. Our five offices around the region encourage collaboration and are designed to function like co-working space. We know a good workplace also needs spaces where employees can recharge their batteries. That’s why we added amenities such as Cushman & Wakefield coffee bars, nurturing rooms, and full-service cafés to our offices. At the PSC, we’re even adding an entire floor with a multipurpose space for yoga and fitness classes, as well as bike desks, walking stations and a quiet room. But it takes more than a good location or great amenities to make a great workplace – it takes great people and a willingness to support one another and the community. At Cushman & Wakefield, we’ve accomplished that spirit through the establishment

and growth of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – organizations comprised of employees who are linked by social factors such as culture, gender, sexual orientation or by a common interest or goal. ERGs foster networking, promote diversity within our workforce, support recruitment and retention and help build external relationships. They also benefit our communities through the many volunteering and charitable giving efforts. Such groups as Safe Connections, Five Acres Animal Shelter and Girl Scouts have benefitted directly from volunteering and giving drives. We’re also working in the community outside our ERG groups. For what is now going on 18 years, Cushman & Wakefield has been the title sponsor of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis Golf Tournament. Year after year, the company also donates to local philanthropic groups and has given millions of dollars to organizations such as the United Way, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Rainbow Village, Ranken Jordan, Foundation of BJC, Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, Marian Middle School, National MS Society and many more. Simply put, Cushman & Wakefield is an ideas company. And ideas come from people. We understand that to be at the center of What’s Next for our clients and our community, we need to attract and retain the best people, and that’s where we’ve invested our time and resources. So, What’s Next for you? Check out careers. cushmanwakefield.com to find an opportunity to join our team.

This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios in collaboration with Cushman & Wakefield. The news and editorial departments of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact tgriffin@stltoday.com. stltoday.com


H E RE’S TO

TWO THINGS T H AT A RE

GREAT ON ICE

D R IN K R E S P O N S IB LY JACK DANIEL’S and OLD NO. 7 are registered trademarks. © 2019 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, 40% Alcohol by Volume (80 proof ). Distilled and Bottled by JACK DANIEL DISTILLERY, Lynchburg, Tennessee.

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06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

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Miguel Garcia, left, and Johnny Garcia, coowners of Garcia Property Management, hold an impromptu meeting in their renovated office spaces on South Kingshighway Boulevard. COLTER PETERSON, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

WELL-PLACED OFFICE SPACE 10

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

Investment in flexible, fresh work environment pays off stltoday.com


Employees work at Garcia Properties in the Northampton neighborhood. The renovation of the historic BrahmMitchellette building cost $2.5 million. COLTER PETERSON, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

BY JACOB BARKER

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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unlight floods into the airy, high-ceiling offices of the 1920s car dealership that Garcia Properties renovated three years ago.

It’s a lot better than the “broom closet” of an office the real estate and development company used to call home, said Garcia Properties cofounder Jenifer Garcia. stltoday.com

“They love it,” she said of the firm’s roughly 50 employees. Garcia Properties is among the 150 organizations recognized as a 2019 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Top Workplace. The $2.5 million renovation of the historic Brahm-Mitchellette building on South Kingshighway Boulevard in the city’s Northampton neighborhood turned what Garcia Properties co-founder Ivan Garcia termed a “pretty hideous” building into a prominent example of renewal. Now, a mural of a “Greetings From St. Louis” postcard depicting the Gateway Arch and Mississippi riverfront graces the wall for southbound motorists. A bright, open floor

plan gives employees, many of whom are often out of the office tending to clients, plenty of options for where to work when they are in the office. “We want to be an inspiration to people in the neighborhood that hey, it’s OK to invest a lot of money here,” Ivan Garcia said. “But then also it’s an inspiration to us when we come in. We want to come in and work in a place that inspires us to do bigger and better things. And our people should be in an environment where they should be proud of what collectively we’re doing as a team.” Not every company will have a historic build-

ing to remodel into an open-air office space. But whatever there is to work with, the layout and aesthetic of a workplace still matters — even with technology enabling employees able to spend more time away from a company’s home base. “Why should they care and spend money on it? We have this conversation every day with companies,” said Michelle Rotherham, director of interior design at St. Louis-based architecture firm Arcturis. “They’re struggling with that same question.” In the past, companies often had employees who either worked from home or worked from

06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

11


COLTER PETERSON, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Roxanne Krammenacher works at a conference table at Garcia Properties. The firm has about 50 employees, many of whom spend a lot of their time outside the office meeting with clients. the office, she said. Today, it’s more about flexibility. A 100-employee company doesn’t necessarily need 100 desks. It’s getting closer to a 50-50 split between meeting space for brainstorming and group work and quieter, more individualized office space where employees can put their heads down and crank out a presentation. ”Most companies need their people to come to work, at least a portion of the time, because in person interaction is just so critical in a lot 12

of ways,” Rotherham said. “You can get a lot done remotely, even on a video conference call ... I can have a logistical meeting, what are we getting done, what’s a deliverable look like. It’s not necessarily about ideation or creating something new. I feel like those are in-person interactions.” Making your office look like a place where employees want to come into work isn’t cheap. And it’s an investment that doesn’t necessarily pay dividends right away.

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

“No one’s going to do their best work and be their most productive and give their talents to the world if they’re doing something they don’t like in a place where they’re not inspired,” Ivan Garcia said. “Every employer should try to invest for the long term. And the long term is having people in an inspired environment. That’s going to put money in your pocket long term. But short term, it requires a huge investment.” Often, sprucing up the office’s look and layout happens when you sign a new lease or buy a

new building. But with the tightest labor market in decades, not keeping the office fresh can hurt recruitment. “It’s extremely competitive out there, so you’ll potentially lose good people if you don’t invest in the space they’re working in, especially when it comes to younger talent,” Rotherham said. Jacob Barker • 314-340-8291 @jacobbarker on Twitter jbarker@post-dispatch.com

stltoday.com


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06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

13


TOP LARGE EMPLOYER

Daugherty’s roots grow deep DAUGHERTY BUSINESS SOLUTIONS Address • 3 Cityplace Drive, Suite 400, Creve Coeur Website • daugherty.com Phone • 314-432-8200 Founded • 1985 Description • An advisory services and technology consulting firm helping corporations understand how to leverage technology strategically to differentiate their business with their customers. What employees say • “I am challenged to be the best I can be and am provided the training and support I need.” “I get to constantly take on new challenges.” “I have the opportunity to drive my own career.” “Work done is valued and appreciated.”

Daugherty Business Solutions provides training for its internal employees and external clients, like this session on Agile coaching, a program to improve skills in teaching, mentoring, facilitating and coaching. HILLARY LEVIN, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Training, teamwork help Creve Coeur firm hold onto talent BY BRYCE GRAY

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ith some corporate headquarters trickling away from the St. Louis area over the years, some have lamented that the city feels like more of a branch office town nowadays.

W 14

Try telling that to Daugherty Business Solutions. Since its founding in 1985, the consulting company has not only maintained its Creve Coeur headquarters amid dramatic, nationwide expansion, but has anchored that growth through relationships with a list of Fortune 500-caliber clients — including many of the major corporate players with deep St. Louis ties, such as Anheuser-Busch, Express Scripts, Monsanto and now, Bayer. Executives said Daugherty employs approximately 1,300 people in offices around the country, with about 600 based in the St. Louis area. Internally, the firm’s leadership says that its success largely centers on ensuring that it is a supportive and rewarding workplace, able to

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

attract — and retain — the best and brightest. “Having Daugherty as a destination workplace is a big thing for us,” said John Wirth, the company’s senior vice president. And to hear a range of employees tell it — from tenured veterans to relative newcomers — the company may be onto something. Daugherty generated perhaps the most praise from its St. Louis-area personnel for its dedication to fostering training and educational opportunities —an important quality when it comes to troubleshooting clients’ challenges through an emphasis on evershifting fields like data and analytics. But orienting a culture around learning and personal growth also helps make for a stimulating and fulfilling workplace experience, employees say.

“You don’t run into a glass ceiling here thanks to constant growth,” said Amber Schanter, a senior consultant who has been with the company for about a year. “The day to day is really filled with, again, training yourself to grow in the industry.” Those educational opportunities include more than just small doses of training and skill development woven into daily life. There’s also a regimen called “Daugherty University” — an eight-week training program for employees to hone problem-solving and technical skills. The process usually culminates with the development of “a program or application that helps our business along,” said Wirth. Some employees said Daugherty has managed to strike a rare balance. “It’s the right mix of autonomy and supstltoday.com


TOP LARGE EMPLOYER

HILLARY LEVIN PHOTOS, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Daugherty Business Solutions employees grab some pizza. The Creve Coeur-based consulting company has about 600 local employees and often treats them to lunch. port,” said Jim Schaeffler, a senior director for the company, explaining that no one is “looking over his shoulder” but that help is always available, if he seeks it out. While he enjoys the freedom that Daugherty’s work philosophy promotes, he and others said teamwork is another strength of the company. For instance, although Schaeffler works primarily with Express Scripts, he says that, with the company’s encouragement, he is able to “connect the dots” on applicable problems for other clients. It helps, he adds, that he thoroughly enjoys his co-workers. “I have my own term for it,” said Schaeffler. “I’m surrounded by people with smarts and heart.” But the company’s growth and success doesn’t mean that workers need to sacrifice fun or individuality while on the job — quite the opposite, they say. “You didn’t have to forfeit your personality and goals. It’s not all about work,” said D’Andre O’Neal, an associate consultant. “You’re building yourself up vocationally, but also personally.” For proof of that, company representatives said that a break room takes center stage as a gathering place and “happy hour” spot on Friday afternoons. At other times, the space plays host to employee board game nights. “This place is hopping at the end of a week,” said Wirth, while leading a tour through the area. Employees also praised Daugherty for its philanthropic commitments. Some mentioned, for instance, that workers are able to help funnel monetary gifts from the company to their favorite charities. “If our employees have good causes that are meaningful to them, then we want to get involved,” said Wirth. Bryce Gray • 314-340-8307 @_BryceGray on Twitter bgray@post-dispatch.com

stltoday.com

Brian Hirtzer, from left, Conor Dickens, Tegan Hoover and Kevin Wang work on a problem at Daugherty Business Solutions. The group was in a seven-week technical training program for new employees.

TOP LARGE EMPLOYERS 500 or more employees Rank Company

Founded Ownership

Sector

1

Daugherty Business Solutions

1985

Private

Management & IT Consulting

543

2

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties

2002

Private

Agents / Brokers

511

Employees

3

Edward Jones

1922

Partnership

Financial Services

6,215

4

Drury Hotels Company LLC

1973

Private

Hospitality

1,029

5

Waterway Gas & Wash Co.

1970

Private

Automotive Cleaning

593

6

First Community Credit Union

1934

Non-profit

Credit Union

554

7

Pattonville School District

1930

Government

Primary / Secondary School

8

SSM Health Rehabilitation Network

1996

Public

Rehabilitation

1,539

9

St. Louis County Library

1947

Public

Public Library

649

10

Medical Transportation Management Inc.

1995

Private

Non-emergency medical transportation

548

11

Keeley Companies

1976

Private

Construction, Infrastructure and Technology

781

12

Missouri Baptist University

1964

Private

College / University

869

13

Ameristar Casino Resort Spa St. Charles

1975

Public

Casino

14

City of St. Charles School District

1846

Public

Primary / Secondary School

15

Cushman & Wakefield

1917

Private

Commercial Real Estate

16

Aldi

1976

Cooperative/Mutual Retail

1,582

17

River City Casino & Hotel and Hollywood Casino St. Louis

1972

Parent company

Casino

2,100

18

Maritz Holdings Inc.

1894

Private

Sales and Marketing Services

1,507

19

Ladue School District

1939

Public

Primary / Secondary School

681

20

Parkway School District

1954

Public

Primary / Secondary School

2,599

964

1,200 903 1,488

RUNNERS UP: This year’s runners up as Top Workplace in the large-companies category included Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties, which placed second, and Edward Jones, which ranked No. 3. 06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

15


Thank You to all of our employees. We are honored to again be recognized as a Top Workplace in St. Louis!

2019 2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

To join the HDIS Family, visit us at www.hdis.com/careers

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TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

stltoday.com


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06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

17


TOP MIDSIZED EMPLOYER

Building the right balance TJ WIES CONTRACTING INC. Address • 200 TCW Court, Lake Saint Louis Website • tjwies.com Phone • 636-561-8555 Founded • 1994 Description • Commercial wall and ceiling contractor What employees say • “Everyone is always pulling in the same direction. It is a total team effort all of the time.” “Good pay, good foreman, always the best tools and safety gear.” “The company strives to be the best and I feel that pushes the employees to do the same.” “I have great faith in the owners and their management.” “I feel appreciated for the work and skills I bring to the company, and not just a number.”

Dennis Jordan Jr., left, of TJ Wies Contracting shares supplies with his son, Dennis Jordan III, as they insulate and hang drywall in patient rooms at the new SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital. ROBERT COHEN, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

TJ Wies Contracting credits happy employees with success BY TIM BRYANT

Special to the Post-Dispatch

T

he commercial wall and ceiling contracting company that Tim Wies started in his basement 25 years ago works now on many of the biggest construction projects in the St. Louis area. 18

Recent or continuing TJ Wies Contracting jobs include those at SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital, Centene Corp., the BJC HealthCare/Washington University Medical School Campus Renewal Project, the new museum at Gateway Arch National Park and Ballpark Village. In scope, those projects far surpass the company’s first contract: a $5,000 job to install drywall at an office building in Creve Coeur. Wies said that key to his company’s success is keeping employees happy. His practice is to hire good people, instruct them on their job expectations “then get out of their way,” he said.

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

“We try not to micromanage folks,” Wies said. “Nobody says you can’t have fun at work, too.” As a result, TJ Wies Contracting, based in Lake Saint Louis, took first place among midsize employers in this year’s Top Workplaces survey. Company employees, the survey showed, are more confident in their workplace than a benchmark of other employees of midsize nonprofit, human and social services agencies. The company motto is “Work Safe, Work Hard, Have Fun.” The employee headcount is about 380. Annual employee events include a golf tour-

nament, a grill cook-off competition and a Cardinals home opener watch party. Employee comments compiled by Energage include praise for the company promoting a balance between work and family time. Some employees said they appreciate the company’s emphasis on workplace safety. One worker commented: “Everyone is always pulling in the same direction. It is a total team effort all the time.” Wies said that satisfied employees are more productive. TJ Wies specializes in metal stud framing, drywall, insulation, acoustical ceilings, plaster, exterior finish systems, fireproofing, stltoday.com


TOP MIDSIZED EMPLOYER

TOP MIDSIZED EMPLOYERS

ROBERT COHEN, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Mitch Schwoeppe, right, of TJ Wies Contracting cuts drywall as Patric Schaper hangs it inside patient rooms at the new SSM Health St. Louis University Hospital. prefabricated load-bearing metal stud walls and trusses, and prefabricated finished exterior wall panels. Among the company’s recent jobs is installation of metal studs and sheathing for exterior walls at the new St. Louis University Hospital, which is under construction. As a subcontractor on the project, TJ Wies also helped fabricate 294 bathroom “pods” for patient rooms. “We built all the bathrooms off site, all the way to the point of putting paper towel holders and tile in then,” he said. TJ Wies rented a warehouse near the construction site to receive flat-packed wall panels from another contractor, then assembled the bathrooms and hauled them by truck to the hospital. The “plug and play” pods arrived at the job site ready for plumbing and electrical connections, Wies said. The goal of prefabricating the bathrooms was to shorten the hospital project’s construction time. Wies lives near Defiance in the house where he founded his company in 1994. He worked for his father, a drywall contractor, through high school and college, then — with his father’s assent — left the family firm to strike out on his own. Most of the company’s work is hidden behind walls when construction projects are completed. Exceptions are decorative moldings TJ Wies installed at the new Arch visitors center and the Muny stage in Forest Park. Decorations that appear made of limestone are molded from glass fiber reinforced concrete, Wies said. “This is the pretty stuff that you end up getting to see at the end of the project,” he said.

RUNNERS UP Wood Brothers Realty ranked No. 2 in the midsize category, and RedKey Realty Leaders ranked No. 3. stltoday.com

150-499 employees Rank Company

Founded Ownership

Sector

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

1994 2011 2012 1979 1989 2001 1899 1972 1950 1965 1922 1916 1979 2003 1898 1959 1972 1992 1968 2001 2017 1955 2009 1918 1885 1947 1960 1869 1999 1974 2004 1953 1997 1973 1994 1986 1818 1980 1946 2008 1985 1946 1985 1988 1989 1868 1939 1963 1855 1974 1981 1943 1978 1983 1985

Commercial Wall and Ceiling Contractor Real Estate Agents / Brokers Law Call Centers Management & Technology Consulting Legal and Financial Services Accounting Education Accounting Primary / Secondary School Healthcare — Hospitals Other — Energy Industry Services Revenue Cycle Management Architecture — Engineering — Construction Primary / Secondary School Wholesale Distribution Building Construction Manufacturing Mortgage Lending Wholesale Distribution Architecture Advertising & Marketing Companies Foodservice Distributor Insurance Brokerage Agency Chemicals / Paint Mortgage Banker Family CFO Other Services Wholesale/Children’s Education Technology/Wireless Phones Retail Certified Public Accountants & Consultants Professional Services — Consulting Restaurant Financial Advisors Medical Supplies/Consumer Products Education — Primary / Secondary School Developmental Disabilities Support Services Cleaning / Maintenance Hotel Enterprise Software PR, Communications, Marketing, and Advertising Health & Beauty Services Managed Services & Outsourcing Professional Services Primary / Secondary School Credit Union Missouri Public Schools Local Government Child, youth & family services High Technology (Manufacturing & R&D) Credit Union Specialty Insurance Vehicle Reconditioning or Automotive Retail Marketing

TJ Wies Contracting, Inc. Wood Brothers Realty RedKey Realty Leaders Brown & Crouppen Law Firm The Pisa Group Inc. Slalom CSC Brown Smith Wallace LLP Jefferson R-VII School District Anders Minkler Huber and Helm LLP Windsor C-1 School District Hillsboro Area Hospital Inc Donco Electrical Construction LLC National Medical Billing Services Burns & McDonnell Orchard Farm R-V School District Distribution Management Inc. ARCO Construction Company, Inc. Royal Canin USA USA Mortgage, a Division of DAS Acquisition Company, LLC Core & Main HOK Abstrakt Marketing Group KUNA Food Services Charles L. Crane Agency Company Carboline Company Guild Mortgage Company Moneta Group Investment Advisors, LLC GFI Digital Booksource Wireless Vision CliftonLarsonAllen LLP Perficient Panda Restaurant Group Buckingham Strategic Wealth HDIS St. Louis University High School Nextstep For Life, Inc. Woodard Cleaning & Restoration Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch Ungerboeck Systems Internationl, Inc. FleishmanHillard LookAfter Hair Company CBIZ Network Solutions, LLC Accenture Bayless School District Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union Meramec Valley R-III School District City Of Wentzville Youth In Need Brewer Science Inc. Scott Credit Union Vanliner Insurance Company Dent Wizard International Corporation Premium Retail Services Inc.

Private Private Private Private Private Private Private Partnership Public Partnership Public Non-profit Private Private Private Public Private Private Private Private Private Partnership Private Private Private Public Private Private Private Private Private Partnership Public Private Parent company Private Non-profit Non-profit Private Partnership Private Parent company Private Public Public Public Non-profit Public Government Non-profit Private Non-profit Private Private Private

Employees

06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

350 155 187 225 282 267 160 322 159 200 414 153 160 160 230 346 218 222 231 349 249 177 299 196 259 158 163 301 153 172 209 211 197 431 209 291 160 150 168 250 296 259 158 317 367 246 344 451 235 349 320 292 157 322 232

19


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06.23.19 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • TOP WORKPLACES

21


TOP SMALL EMPLOYER

Top Flite gets hiring right TOP FLITE FINANCIAL INC. Address • 1034 South Brentwood Boulevard, Suite 1910, Richmond Heights Website • topflitecd.com Phone • 314-748-1313 Founded • 2002 Description • Mortgage lender What employees say • “I get the support I need to grow.” “The support system is amazing and all my co-workers are always ready and eager to help.” “I control my own paycheck and the leaders of the company give me every opportunity to succeed.” “I love the ability to help people and improve their standard of living.” “They genuinely care about me as an employee and my success. They give me all the tools necessary to succeed.”

Top Flite loan officers Brian Jones, left, and Fred Artis enjoy some diversion with a balloon that had been brought to the Richmond Heights office to entertain an employee’s child. HILLARY LEVIN, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Mortgage lenders have mastered the art of spotting, keeping talented workers BY TIM BRYANT

Special to the Post-Dispatch

T

odd Feager and Dave Bray were friends and colleagues in the mortgage industry when they decided to combine their experience in St. Louis.

22

In May 2016, Feager and Bray partnered with Top Flite Financial to open a mortgage lending office at University Club Tower in Richmond Heights. Top Flite, founded in 2002 and based in Williamston, Mich., has branch offices nationwide. Feager said that he and Bray together have more than 40 years experience in the mortgage business. “We joined forces and decided we’d open our own branch in St. Louis,” Feager said. They began small, with only nine employees, but have since grown the St. Louis office’s headcount to more than 50. “We’ve just been adding talent and people

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

over the last three years,” Feager said. About 70% of Top Flite’s loan officers had no previous experience in the mortgage business. Feager said he looks for talented people who have sales backgrounds or work in a service industry, which includes bars and restaurants. “We then train them our way,” Feager said. Top Flite took first place among small-size employers in the 2019 Top Workplaces survey. The survey showed that Top Flite employees are more confident in their workplace as a benchmark of employees of small-size nonprofit, human and social service agencies. New Top Flite hires get a guaranteed minimum salary for 90 days while they work to earn

their mortgage loan officer license and begin to learn the business. After that, many mortgage officers, through commissions, earn six-figure annual incomes, Feager said. “People with experience in phone sales tend to do well because they’re used to that environment,” he said. Top Flite’s hiring and training strategy produces a motivated and collegial workforce, Feager added. The company provides the usual range of mortgage products but focuses on offering borrowers with less-than-perfect credit debt consolidation and cash-out refinancing plans. “Mortgage rates are important but consumer stltoday.com


TOP SMALL EMPLOYER

TOP SMALL EMPLOYERS

HILLARY LEVIN, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

At Top Flite Financial, a mortgage lending office in Richmond Heights, the leaderboard creates an incentive for the loan officers by posting the names and sales amounts of the top achievers. debt is on such an incline,” Feager said. “We produce a pretty aggressive solution to help people consolidate debt.” Top Flite’s loan officers have a special incentive to work hard. Top performers earn week-long, company-paid vacations, which are awarded monthly. Hawaii, Fiji and places in Europe are among the approximately 300 available destinations. Top Flite initially paid only for the hotel but now provides flight credits, too. Most Top Flite loan officers in St. Louis are in their late 20s to mid 40s. Formal education is not always a major factor in hiring decisions, said Feager, adding that spotting talent is key. Getting along with co-workers also is important, he said. “We have a really tight-knit group,” Feager said. “We really don’t have much turnover at all.” After the initial job interview, the potential new hire spends a day in the office to get a feel for the place. People who get through that process go through a third interview to discuss job details and industry trends. “Technology is starting to play an even greater role in our industry,” Feager said. Mobile apps, texts and other evolving technologies are becoming more common and allow customers to get mortgage answers quickly. “A lot of customers don’t want to explain their life story for a credit application,” Feager said. “If they can do on their own and not waste a lot of time, it’s a win.” Top Flite paused its hiring spree early this year but plans to take more space this year at University Club Tower in anticipation of growing its workforce further in the next 24 to 36 months. All loan officers should shoot for an annual income of at least $100,000, Feager said. “Our model supports that we’ve got a bunch who will be over that this year,” he said. stltoday.com

50-149 employees Rank Company

Founded Ownership

Sector

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75

2002 1999 1961 1938 2007 2010 1990 1996 1904 2009 2009 1965 1983 2000 2010 1994 2014 2016 1968 2006 1998 1952 1966 2007 1994 2011 2001 2010 2004 1970 2008 1999 2010 1959 1999 1952 1982 1989 1997 2008 2000 2006 2007 1987 1994 1997 1988 1860 1947 1902 2010 1920 1983 1953 2011 1947 1947 1907 1917 2003 1957 1975 2011 1968 1996 2007 1933 2011 1984 1995 1896 1998 1985 1861 1967

Mortgage Lending All things real estate — Sales, Management, Inv... Drywall, Painting, & Flooring General contractor Real Estate Sales Childcare Services Home Improvements Systems Integration Heating and Air Conditioning Private Duty/Non-Medical Care Customer Success Human and social services General Contractor Law Firm Pet Care: Dog Daycare, Boarding & Training Financial Advisors Marketing & Lead Generation Cloud Software, Modern Data Engineering, Decis... Pool Construction and Service Title Insurance and Escrow Company Commercial Full Service Elevator Contractor Manufacturing Mortgage Lending Transportation Information Technology Construction Residential Home Loans Agents / Brokers Electrical, Media, Security Human and social services Financial Advisors Healthcare Data Analytics and Management Consul... Consulting Material Handeling Equipment Enterprise Content Management Software Public School Lighting Manufacturer Rep Third Party Logistics Human and social services Daycare Hearing Healthcare Third Party Logistics Call Centers Corporate Travel & Vacations Franchise Exterior Remodeling Sports/Recreation Non-profit — Other Hearing Heathcare Moving & Storage Transportation Enterprise Software Auto, Home, Farm, Business, Umbrella Insurance Staffing Engineering Broadcasting/Marketing Design Build Remodeling Automotive Glass Repair and Replacement Life Insurance, Annuities, & Retirement Investm... Education — Primary / Secondary School All-Natural Pet Shop Property Management Industrial Automation Mesothelioma Credit Union Advertising Security & Protection Engineering Design Consultant Coordinate Home Care Services for Veterans Residential and commercial moving Engineering solutions for manufacturing Mechanical Contractor Freight Managed Services & Outsourcing Financial Services & Insurance Swimming pool construction and service

Top Flite Financial, Inc. Garcia Properties Beckner Painting & Contracting Helmkamp Construction Co. Circa Properties College Nannies, Sitters and Tutors Midtown Home Improvements Stone Technologies Design Aire Heating and Cooling Seniors Helping Seniors Gainsight NCADA N-STORE Services, LLC The Simon Law Firm, P.C. The Watering Bowl Renaissance Financial Corporation Sapper Consulting 1904labs Baker Pool Construction Title Partners Agency, LLC Midwest Elevator Company, Inc. Budnick Converting, Inc. Delmar Mortgage Mid America Logistics LLC Technology Partners Inc. Renewal by Andersen of St. Louis Golden Oak Lending Colliers International Streib Company Call for Help Inc. Parkside Financial Bank & Trust Amitech Solutions UNCOMN, LLC Tri-State Equipment Company KnowledgeLake, Inc. Sunrise R-IX School Lighting Associates LLC Sunset Transportation Language. Access. Multicultural. People. (LAMP) The Morgan School Miracle-Ear Flat World Holdings Client Services Solutions Travel Travel Kirkwood, Inc. Buildingstars International Lakeside Exteriors, Inc. Vetta Sports Provident Behavioral Health Southwestern Hearing Centers Dodge Moving & Storage Coolfire Solutions Madison Mutual Insurance Company Aerotek McClure Engineering Hubbard Radio St. Louis LLC Mosby Building Arts, LTD Safelite AutoGlass Protective Life Insurance Co. Rossman School Treats Unleashed The Lipton Group, Inc. Experitec Inc. Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd, LLC 1st Financial Federal Credit Union Rodgers Townsend Secure24 Horner & Shifrin Veterans Care Coordination Two Men And A Truck EPIC Systems Corrigan Company Artur Express, Inc. Karpel Solutions Associated Bank Westport Pools, Inc.

Private Public Private Private Private Private Private Private Private Private Private Non-profit Private Private Private Private Private Private Cooperative/Mutual Private Private Private Private Partnership Private Private Private Public Private Non-profit Private Private Private Private Private Public Private Private Non-profit Private Private Partnership Private Private Private Private Private Non-profit Private Private Private Cooperative/Mutual Private Private Private Private Parent company Parent company Non-profit Private Private Private Public Cooperative/Mutual Public Parent company Private Private Private Private Private Private Private Public Private

Employees

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52 53 75 50 50 70 88 74 68 119 56 55 51 53 90 103 80 78 57 54 95 98 73 69 68 128 58 50 86 50 55 51 98 51 78 56 50 95 69 52 64 69 54 70 50 51 144 95 51 84 51 50 85 85 135 105 68 97 51 86 101 91 139 98 54 66 66 56 148 68 51 125 53 71 55

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Standouts among this year’s Top Workplaces FROM STAFF REPORTS

T

he following special award recipients were chosen based on standout scores for employee responses to specific survey statements. Employees rated these statements on a seven-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” Ten confidence-boosting leaders are:

Among employers, special recognition goes to: Wood Brothers Realty wins the Direction award by scoring highest on the statement, “I believe this company is going in the right direction.” Waterway Gas & Wash Co. wins the Managers award, scoring highest for “My manager helps me learn and grow, makes it easier to do my job well and cares about my concerns.” Helmkamp Construction Co. wins the New Ideas award, scoring highest for “New ideas are encouraged at this company.” Top Flite Financial Inc. wins the Doers award, scoring highest for “At this company, we do things efficiently and well.” SSM Health Rehabilitation Network wins the Meaningfulness award, scoring highest for “My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful.” College Nannies, Sitters and Tutors wins the Values award, scoring highest for “This company operates by strong values.” The Pisa Group Inc. wins the Clued in Senior Management award, scoring highest for “Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company.” CSC wins the Communication award, scoring highest for “I feel well-informed about important decisions at this company.”

• Tim Pecoraro, Superintendent, Pattonville School District, in the large employer category. In anonymous survey responses, one employee said: “I have a lot of autonomy and choices in my position and my decisions are respected.” Another employee said: “I feel supported by my administrator and the staff to help students succeed.”

• Timothy Wies, owner, TJ Wies Contracting Inc., in the midsize employer category. One employee said: “I’m proud to work for a company that cares about their employees and that recognizes people who work hard.” Another employee said: “There’s always someone willing to explain things.”

• Pat Melson, president, Midtown Home Improvements, in the small employer category.

Daugherty Business Solutions wins the Appreciation award, scoring highest for “I feel genuinely appreciated at this company.” Brown & Crouppen Law Firm wins the Work/Life Flexibility award, scoring highest for “I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life.” Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties wins the Training award, scoring highest for “I get the formal training I want for my career.” Royal Canin USA wins the Benefits award, scoring highest for “My benefits package is good compared to others in this industry.”

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Training in a tight market Y

Technology, college credits widen net of who can benefit

BY SHELLY HAGAN AND CARLYANN EDWARDS

Bloomberg

ou’d need a cast of thousands to reenact Black Friday at a Walmart store, so virtual reality comes in handy at the company’s training centers. Employees get to experience a shopper stampede on their headsets, part of a widening national effort that encompasses some 7,000 workers a week.

The retail giant isn’t alone. From hotels to fast food chains, employers in service industries are setting up training programs or revamping the ones they have. That’s what is supposed to happen in a tight labor market, a description that fits the U.S. where unemployment is at a 49-year low. Since there’s competition over a diminishing pool of workers, companies have to lower requirements at the entry level — then spend more time and money training the people they hire. “If you’re in a relatively low-wage labor market in the service sector — say Starbucks, Walmart, McDonald’s — notice that they all have training programs now,” says Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. It’s “one of the things that a healthy economy encourages.” There’s a shortage of data on workplace education, because the Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn’t surveyed the topic for more than 10 years. Still, something seems to be stirring. One reason may be that technology is lowering the cost of training, always a deterrent for employers. “They’re far more willing to spend money on technology and software to train people than they are to hire trainers,” says Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania’s business school. That’s an opportunity for startups like 4-year-old Strivr Labs, which designs VR programs to simulate Black Friday at Walmart, or an attempted robbery at a Verizon office. Strivr Chief Executive Derek Belch describes how one of his modules is used at low-cost airline JetBlue, to teach staff how to do a quick “walkaround” cabin inspection in between 28

TIMOTHY FADEK, BLOOMBERG

An American flag flies outside of a Walmart Inc. store in Secaucus, N.J. flights. It’s hard to do that on an actual plane, he says, “because it has to go fly in 20 minutes.” Without virtual reality, the carrier would have to rent a plane for training, or pay overtime to do it late at night. On top of in-house education, companies like JetBlue, Walmart and Chipotle offer programs that link up to college credits, and they’ve stepped up tuition reimbursement plans. Walmart employees can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree at three nonprofit schools for a $1 a day. Kourtney Miller, 29, signed up after eight years at the retailer, and says she’s started getting inquiries from colleagues. She said one question that often gets asked is: “They’re saying it’s a dollar a day, is it true?” Such programs can go at least some of the way to redressing an imbalance in training, Georgetown’s Carnevale says: It tends to be

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

“the more educated and higher-skilled workers” who get more of it — and who then get paid better as a result. Less-qualified employees risk getting excluded, and Carnevale says that women have historically benefited less than men, too. One objection to training that keeps resurfacing among employers is: What if workers pocket the new skills, and take them elsewhere? “They thought they could hire the people with talent, rather than having to develop it internally,” says Cappelli at Wharton. The tighter the labor market gets, the less force that argument carries. Some companies like JetBlue still require some kind of no-quit commitment from staff who participate in college programs. Others don’t. If employees gain a degree, “they can use that at Walmart, hopefully,” says Drew Holler, a senior vice president at the retailer. “Or they can go use that somewhere else.”

Walmart’s initiative is fairly new, but JetBlue and Chipotle say that internal surveys show an increased commitment to the company among student-employees who enroll. While workforce training may have picked up lately, it remains much less widespread than it used to be, according to Brad Markell, executive director of the Industrial Union Council at America’s biggest labor group, the AFL-CIO. “Companies just don’t train like they used to,” he said. Cappelli agrees that there was probably a lot more help on offer from employers 30 years ago. And he says college-linked programs shouldn’t be exaggerated either: They’re often limited in scope, offering online classes only or restricting students to a single course. Still, employers aren’t “claiming that this is all about building American skills,” he says. “They’re trying to do it to build the workforce that they need right now. And that’s OK.” stltoday.com


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AVOIDING A CULTURE CLASH More companies embrace atmosphere of respect, encouragement

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TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

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BY JOYCE M. ROSENBERG

Associated Press

eloney Perry once worked at a traditional big law firm with a formal, corporate atmosphere, and knew she wanted a different culture at her own firm.

M

“I learned the ‘old school’ way, but it’s changed,” says Perry, founder of Perry Law in Dallas. “Nowadays, with the employees coming in younger, you do have to have more of a family feel.” That means allowing more casual attire when clients aren’t around, and giving staffers laptops so they don’t have to work long hours at their desks. “They want to be home. They want to be watching the playoffs while they work,” Perry says. Small businesses’ cultures are becoming a bigger priority as more owners respond to the dramatically different expectations of a younger workforce and a low unemployment rate and shrinking labor pool that make it harder to find staffers. In a survey released last fall by Bank of America, a quarter of the 1,067 owners surveyed said they were shifting to more flexible cultures in hopes of attracting the workers they want. Companies are creating environments that recognize staffers’ need for growth in their careers, more balance between their work and personal lives and open communication. And to have a role in the company’s direction — employees don’t want to just do their work and keep quiet. “They want to feel appreciated and be included in the firm decisions,” Perry says. They also need an atmosphere that’s less rigid than old-style corporate environments. Owners have come to recognize that reading personal email, texting friends and doing online searches for personal matters are a part of life, and not just for younger people. Baby boomer staffers are just as likely to be checking their phones periodically during the day as their younger colleagues are. Guy Fardone recognizes that younger employees, those known as millennials, are in some ways more openly ambitious than baby boomers or Generation Xers, people who are now in their 40s and 50s. They want to know what their next move is. “Many millennials thrive on continuous growth opportunities, which could take many forms: learning a new technology, getting a technical certification or getting the nod to lead a project or opportunities to advance, says Fardone, CEO of Evolve IP, an information technology company based in Wayne, Pa. Owners who want a good culture will need stltoday.com

TONY GUTIERREZ, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Meloney Perry, left, talks with attorney Karla Roush, at Perry’s law firm in Dallas. Small business owners are making their company culture a bigger priority as they respond to the dramatically different expectations of a younger workforce and a low unemployment rate that makes it harder to find staffers. to be aware of their interactions with staffers — what they do can have a greater impact than what they say. “Your values really emerge from how you behave,” says Tony Fross, who advises clients on workplace practices for the consulting firm Prophet. For example, micromanagers need to understand they’ll get more out of their staffers by giving them autonomy, Fross says. “People live down to your expectations rather than up to them” when they’re over-controlled, Fross says. “You need to give people incentives and make it easy from a decision-making perspective to do the things you want them to do.” Culture isn’t something many entrepreneurs think of when launching their companies, but many realize as they begin hiring that it needs to be a priority. “You think so much about the bottom line and being able to expand and hire that you don’t always consider other factors,” says David Wurst, who says he had no idea about how to develop a company culture when he launched WebCitz, a website development company based in Appleton, Wis. But as he began hiring staffers, prospective employees asked him about the

company culture, and also said they hated the suffocating atmosphere at the jobs they were leaving. Wurst educated himself by reading about what constitutes a good company culture. He learned “the managers of a business have to understand employees deserve respect and encouragement in order to thrive in their positions, which will help the company as a whole.” So Wurst aims to give employees opportunities to make a meaningful contribution to the company’s growth. He also tries to create a warm and congenial workplace; he takes staffers out for lunch to celebrate successful project launches and is flexible about staffers’ personal time. Melinda Byerley learned from a former employer that a good company culture recognizes staffers as humans with anger and other emotions not always welcome in the workplace. “We ask everyone to own those emotions and use them productively — whether that’s taking a short break or the afternoon off, to admit that something triggers or upsets them, or however they process and deal with those emotions,” says Byerley, owner of TimeShare CMO, a digital marketing company based in San Francisco.

Byerley, who has a staff of about 20, also has created what she calls the Rage Cage, a messaging channel where everyone can vent. “I’m modeling productive behavior as well as making a psychologically safe space for others to acknowledge the very real emotions that come with all humans,” she says. A company’s culture shouldn’t be set in stone; at some firms, it needs a complete overhaul. When Dave Stout was hired 13 years ago as chief financial officer of Banker Wire, the owners presided over what Stout calls a centralized, controlling environment. He almost quit after the first day. But as Stout gradually took on more responsibility at the Mukwonago, Wisconsinbased manufacturer of wire mesh products, and eventually a 40% stake in the business, he remade the culture. Stout,who became president 10 years ago,began by increasing staffers’ pay and implementing a flexible work schedule. He encouraged their autonomy. He recognized that younger staffers had a different but no less valid way of doing things. He built up their trust. Today, Stout says, “I think 98% of Banker Wire’s culture comes from my colleagues and only 2% comes from me.”

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Dads push for equal parental leave High-profile suit fuels trend for gender-neutral policies BY JENA MCGREGOR

The Washington Post

H

uman resources consultant Carol Sladek doesn’t need to look any further than her phone to guess how a recent legal settlement over parental leave at JPMorgan Chase might influence the benefits received by new dads at other companies.

The banking giant recently agreed to pay $5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of male employees who argued they did not have the same access to parental leave as new mothers — an outcome Sladek and other employment experts believe could accelerate the trend toward more clearly gender-neutral policies for new parents. “If my phone ringing off the hook is any indication,” said Sladek, who leads Aon’s work-life consulting practice, “organizations have really been drawn to all the attention on this case.” While it is at least the third time since 2015 that new dads have waged legal fights for greater access to paid leave — in 2015, CNN and Turner Broadcasting settled a discrimination charge with a former correspondent, Josh Levs; and last year, Estée Lauder settled allegations by male employees — some experts believe the highprofile case could have a big impact. For one, the size and scope of JPMorgan Chase, combined with the communications reach of the American Civil Liberties Union, has already brought the issue much attention. Add a $5 million settlement — the largest amount yet related to the issue — and it could serve as a wake-up call to companies that may now see a pattern of legal questions being raised. Meanwhile, the rapid shift in how new fathers view taking a more equitable role in infant caregiving — at the same time many businesses are offering more and more generous leaves — could prompt more companies that still have traditional policies to recognize the issue isn’t going away. “I think this is going to have a huge impact,” said Katie Bethell, founder of Paid Leave for the 36

United States (PL+US), a nonprofit advocacy group. “Companies have built parental leave on gender norms that don’t hold up.” There is little data on how many employers offer the varying types of paid leave arrangements. Of course, many don’t offer any to new fathers — a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that just 29% of organizations offer some kind of paid leave to dads. At the other end of the spectrum, experts say many larger and more progressive employers have already moved to policies that follow guidelines first issued in 2014 by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency warned that employers should distinguish between “pregnancy-related medical leave” or disability-related maternity leave — the typically six to eight weeks of leave offered to mothers to recover from childbirth — and any additional paid leave that’s designed to care for or bond with a new child. “If, for example, an employer extends leave to new mothers beyond the period of recuperation from childbirth ... it cannot lawfully fail to provide an equivalent amount of leave to new fathers for the same purpose,” states the EEOC guideline.

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

In between are the remaining employers — though dwindling in number — that still offer more traditional maternity and paternity benefits where men get much less time off for caregiving. “If you’re giving women two weeks of bonding leave, you should do the same thing for men,” said Sladek.“There are lots and lots of organizations that either aren’t aware of this or haven’t caught up,” she said. Others designed their policies in a way that gives employees “primary” or “secondary” status and allots them different amounts of time. Although these policies were usually designed to be gender-neutral, often set up by employers trying to navigate the expansion of benefits to adoptive parents or same-sex partners, experts say it hasn’t always worked that way in practice. “Sometimes it’s pretty obvious,” said Cynthia Calvert, a senior adviser for the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, who connected Derek Rotondo, the Chase employee who contacted her center’s hotline and filed the charge, to the ACLU. Calvert said she’s seen policies that actually stated the secondary caregiver was the father, or that the primary caregiver was who had respon-

sibilities right after birth, implicitly suggesting the mother. “If it ends up that all the primary caregivers are mothers and secondary caregivers are fathers, it’s showing that it has a ‘disparate impact’ on fathers,” said Calvert, raising legal concerns. Rotondo alleged he was told by JPMorgan Chase’s HR department that mothers were the presumptive primary caregivers, and had to show either that his wife had returned to work or was incapacitated to get the longer leave time. Soon after his charge was filed, Chase gave Rotondo a full 16 weeks of caregiver leave, and in late 2017 the firm clarified things to ensure the policy, which was always designed to be gender neutral, gave men and women equal access to “primary” status. In the middle of 2018, it also increased the “secondary” caregiver benefit to six weeks, up from two. “We are pleased to have reached an agreement in this matter and look forward to more effectively communicating the policy so that all men and women employees are aware of their benefits,” Reid Broda, JPMorgan Chase associate general counsel, said in a statement.“We thank Mr. Rotondo for bringing the matter to our attention.” Peter Romer-Friedman, an attorney representing Rotondo, said the case is a reminder that a generous leave policy — 16 weeks is longer than many companies offer — can’t stand on its own. “It sends a message to all companies, big and small, that providing a lot of paid [bonding] leave is a great thing, but it has to be equal,” he said. Some say the settlement could push more employers away from distinguishing between primary and secondary caregivers, given the difficulty of proving it, the risk in giving low-level HR workers such discretion, and the chances that it prompts managers to overly identify the roles along typical gender lines. “I think that’s where we’re headed, and I also think it’s the safest thing for employers to do ,” said Cynthia Blevins Doll, a labor and employment lawyer for Fisher Phillips. She warns, however, that while the end result could mean more equal — and therefore more generous — “bonding” leave for new fathers, the reverse could also happen. Holdout employers could cut back on the caregiving leave they give all parents, concerned about the higher cost. “Does it incur more liberal policies or does it cut the other way, and discourage lengthy paid leaves?” she asked. “I would hate to see that. I would hope not. But it’s possible.” stltoday.com


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Join us as we relive the St. Louis Blues’ historic championship season!

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Your Story Starts Here... At Booksource, we always strive to do the right thing. For us, that means putting people first. From our employees to our customers, we treat everyone we work with as part of our extended family. Do you have a background in education or a passion for inspiring readers? Consider a career with us! To learn more about joining our family, visit our Careers tab at Booksource.com.

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CLOTHES CALL FOR

EQUALITY Casual dress can be fraught for women, people of color 44

TOP WORKPLACES • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 06.23.19

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BY JENA MCGREGOR AND TAYLOR TELFORD

The Washington Post

G

oldman Sachs, one of the last bastions of crisp-collared, bespoke-suited workplace attire, has loosened up. It announced an official “firm-wide flexible dress code” this year. And at last, business casual seems to have triumphed in the American workplace. But for women and people of color who have been playing corporate catch-up for decades, a more casual dress code presents its own complications. As one Goldman Sachs banker in GQ put it: “All the men are psyched.” For everyone else, dressing more casually for work can be fraught, even risky. Over decades, expensive suits have projected power on Wall Street, almost like a piece of “armor,” said Susan Scafidi, academic director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham University. Women at work who feel pressure to prove they deserve to be in the room might be wary of ditching their blazers and pumps. “We’ve just achieved the parity of the pantsuit, and suddenly we’re told the standard pantsuit is no longer standard workforce attire,” Scafidi said. “Women will need to find another way to achieve parity in attire at business casual or some other lower level of formality.” Parity, of course, extends not only to power, but to pay. Jaclyn Wong, who researches the intersection of gender and professional life, co-published a study in 2016 looking at the differences in how men and women are rewarded for attractiveness in the workplace. Attractive men and women make roughly 20 percent more than their less attractive co-workers, Wong found. Even so, they are measured by different standards. For women, perceived attractiveness was based on grooming, like hairstyle, makeup, fitness and clothing. They are rewarded, Wong said, for looking the part. For men, grooming counts far less. If attractive, they tend to be rewarded whether they are well-groomed or not. “Weknowthatappearancemattersforwomen and people of color in being seen as competent and worthy of respect,” said Wong, a professor of sociology at University of South Carolina. “It becomes this difficult position: ‘Do I want to dress down because I don’t want to be seen as this kind of stiff and un-fun person, or do I want to continue dressing up because that’s the only way people will treat me with respect?’” stltoday.com

DANIEL ARNOLD, WASHINGTON POST

Loosening standards at investment banking firms have broadened the range of workwear seen in New York’s Financial District, but workplace perceptions play a role in women’s attire. Goldman Sachs is following other firms in a hunt for tech talent that is most comfortable with the sneakers and hoodies of Silicon Valley. Also it is accommodating a growing fraction of its workforce that is made up of millennials — with about 75 percent of its workers under 40, and dressing in a way that fits more casually dressed clients. The investment bank, which announced the change in a memo, called for employees to “please dress in a manner that is consistent with your clients’ expectations,” but stressed that they should “exercise good judgment.” A spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the memo. “Good judgment,” of course, is open to interpretation. “You have to decide: How do you present yourself when you’re often the only woman in the room?” said Jane Newton, a managing partner at RegentAtlantic. Newton spent 17 years at JPMorgan and runs a forum for women in leadership on Wall Street. “In a male-dominated environment, gravitas becomes a key variable in decisions that are made about your potential.” Workers tend to take their signals from the top. According to the lore of Corporate America, IBM made its first big leap decades ago when executives such as Louis V. Gerstner Jr. changed up the uniform of suit and tie and white collar — by mixing in a blue button-down shirt. A 1995 headline in the New York Times read “Black Jeans Invade Big Blue” after Gerstner said he was rolling out casual dress. Bill Hewlett

and Dave Packard’s relaxed “Blue Sky Days” on Fridays were said to influence future generations of tech entrepreneurs. Today, it’s Goldman CEO David Solomon, who performs as a DJ in his spare time and has appeared in interviews without a tie. In the 1980s and ‘90s, there were few role models for women on Wall Street, Newton said, so they tried to blend in. Men in suits cut imposing figures, so women wore blazers with padded shoulders. Men wore ties, so women wore blouses with pussy bows. Fashion is far more flexible now, she said, but younger women still ask Newton the same questions about how to present themselves to be taken seriously. Sometimes she offers to go shopping with them, or she pages through catalogs to show what works and what doesn’t. Women on Wall Street have adapted to more casual norms. But some still face the possibility that they could be perceived as lacking power when they dress down at work, said Laura Sherbin, managing director of Culture@Work, a division of Working Mother Media that helps companies develop best practices around diversity. “When a woman is dressed informally, she’s more likely to be assumed to be more junior” or to be someone’s assistant, Sherbin said. The topic of dress codes still comes up all the time in focus groups she does at companies, she said. Sherbin recalls working with one management consulting client that had a relaxed dress code. She complimented a sharply dressed fe-

male executive whose look — black dress, edgy black leather jacket with zippers — was powerful. The executive, who was headed into a tough strategy meeting, told Sherbin she was relieved to hear it. “I want to walk in the room and be seen as fierce and somebody who’s not going to back down so instantly,” the executive said. “I never would have worn pastels today.” For women of color, issues of image at the office are thornier. In schools throughout the country, girls of color are more likely to be punished for dress code violations, according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center. Even the freshmen women of Congress — the most female and diverse group ever — have inspired a huge amount of discussion about red lipstick, hoop earrings and ethnic garb. In some cases much more than their actual platforms and ideas. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez put it this way: “If I walked into Congress wearing a sack, they would laugh and take a picture of my backside. If I walk in with my best sale-rack clothes, they laugh and take a picture of my backside.” A more relaxed dress code means a broader range of choices, and “a broader range of choices means greater possibility for error,” Scafidi said. “So while men will naturally gravitate toward old-fashioned polos and khakis — or possibly to fleece and jeans — women don’t have a business casual uniform in the same way.” Maureen Sherry worked 12 years on Wall Street and was the youngest managing director at Bear Stearns. “Women never walked in wearing khakis or athleisurewear,” she said.“Professional women just didn’t do that because we wanted to be in meetings and not have our outfit be a point of discussion.” She wrote a novel, “Opening Belle,” about a female Wall Street executive, based partly on her experience as well as interviews with other women. “A friend of mine wore the first pantsuit on the Salomon Brothers trading floor in 1991, and it caused an uproar,” she said. “She still has it” as a kind of trophy. Today, she said,“if you saw a woman wearing Birkenstocks or loafers, we’d like to think that we’re not taking her less seriously as a result, but I’m not sure if that’s true.” Although shifting norms add to the litany of micro-decisions women must make before they set foot in the office, they do signal more freedom. In the past, Newton said, “There were these clear, unwritten rules, but who wrote the rules? The men, so we adapted to them so that we could fit in.” “Now we can write our own rules,” she said, “to the extent that we’re comfortable.”

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