It's still an employer's market out there when it comes to hiring, and the latest forecasts say that won't change in Connecticut for at least two years.
But the best companies treat their people like gold, and they do it intelligently — not just with pay and benefits, though that's part of the deal, but with strategies to make sure everyone is well trained, well directed and generally as happy as possible.
In short, they use teamwork.
And in the winners of the second annual Hartford Courant/Fox CT Top Workplaces competition, we have 50 good examples. These employers range from the global headquarters of a publicly traded health insurance giant (Aetna) to nonprofit social service providers such as The Village for Families and Children, to public schools and colleges and privately owned companies.
They are innovating even in their very existence. No one knew the true value of Virtus Investment Partners until the money management firm spun off from The Phoenix Cos. four years ago. Now Virtus is a 2-time Top Workplaces winner, and Phoenix, working to revive its old fortunes, joins the list. One of this year's top winners, Marketing Solutions, isn't a company at all in the traditional sense — it's a network of four direct-sales and marketing firms in Hartford, which work together under a cooperative structure.
"It's a lot of teamwork," said Jason Ward, who founded the first company and spun off the other three. "We all help each other kind of grow."
The list of 50 winners, in three size categories, was generated by an outside firm, based on employees' responses to 24 questions about the organizations' leadership, direction and culture. Exactly half, 25, are repeat winners from last year.
Although many industries are represented, it is not necessarily a cross-section of the Connecticut economy. Finance and Insurance, combined with health care, account for nearly half of all winners. StubHub brings California tech culture to a section of the country that's mad about sports and entertainment, with strong growth.
Again this year, there are no winners from food and traditional retail, though an auto dealership, Manchester Honda, which is known for its no-haggle pricing, is on the list. Elder-care firms fared especially well last year, and this year, several real estate and mortgage companies scored high among the winners, including William Raveis, in a repeat from last year.
It's difficult for manufacturers to compete against service companies for several reasons, but two businesses from the goods-producing sector — InCord and Joining Technologies Inc., are repeat winners from last year, and both got there by innovation and openness to new ideas from the workforce.
We name special award winners as well, based on survey answers in crucial areas. On that list, Standard Builders of Newington takes top honors for Ethics for the second straight year.
If you work for one of these organizations, congratulations. you're part of a great team. If you think your employer should be included next year, look for our call for nominations in early spring — or send an email now to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Top Workplaces" in the message field.
DAN HAAR, Courant Columnist and Top Workplaces editor