Special awards honor areas of excellence
Comfort Keepers - Pittsburgh South & East
Employee training is a major component at the senior living assistance company, which held an in-service program for employees last spring.
The event featured a continuing education panel on enhancing client care, as well as a demonstration from a local Curves fitness facility owner, who demonstrated sitting exercises that could be done with clients.
The education came with a light-hearted air: a demonstration on "bathing the oppositional client" had an appropriate soundtrack. Selections included "Singing in the Rain," "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" and "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head."
Workers at the Bakery Square office of the Internet search giant repeatedly cited a ratio in explaining why their managers deserved this prize.
"Regular 1:1 meetings" read one response. "Just asking at all my 1:1s is all it really takes," said another. Managers meet "regularly 1-on-1 to talk about technical problems I face and career development," echoed yet another.
The company said it strives to "maintain the open culture often associated with startups," even as it grows into one of the world's largest firms.
But any worker - even one at a 1:1 company like Google - knows a little space is sometimes necessary.
Managers foster innovation "by setting clear goals, providing what I need to achieve them and then staying out of the way," one employee said.
TEIS (Therapeutic Early Intervention Services)
Employees at the 8-year-old child development firm servicing Western Pennsylvania describe a workplace designed to foster and encourage innovation.
"At staff meetings, everyone feels comfortable speaking up and giving input on what they think or giving opinions about what is going on at the company," a worker said in the survey. "Also, managers are always looking for feedback and ideas and encourage this formally two times a year."
"Our managers are very open and willing to listen to our ideas or issues that we have," another said. "They are very friendly and approachable. They encourage us to talk to them about ideas by having bi-monthly meetings and are willing to listen to their employees."
Select International Inc.
A full-steam-ahead attitude was repeatedly cited by employees at the McCandless-based employee assessment agency.
The company said it "takes seriously its responsibility as a corporate citizen" and contributes to the community by working with Habitat for Humanity and having executives serve on the boards of local organizations that help at-risk youth.
Workers are kept in tip-top shape with the help of a $25 monthly fitness membership reimbursement and have the chance to win major relaxation help through raffles that give away free trips and electronics.
"The work environment is awesome," one worker said. "Everyone that I've worked with is very willing to help others when they are in need in order to meet project deadlines or get through difficult issues."
American Income Life Arias Agencies
Workers at this insurance firm often work with clients who are facing tough times. But the company's commitment to giving back - both to those clients and the community at large - were cited as reasons its employees find their work meaningful.
Last year, when one worker without life insurance died and left two small children behind, the company raised $10,000.
One worker cited "helping our clients and making sure that during the worst times in their families' lives that there will be no financial burdens."
"Giving our clients that freedom of choice is the most meaningful thing I do."
Tudi Mechanical Systems
This McKees Rocks green energy firm is all about giving good energy - literally and figuratively - to those who need it most.
The company holds a Heat for the Needy campaign once every year that provides free furnaces and repairs to those in need in the Pittsburgh region. This year's campaign in January saw 12 residential furnaces replaced and four more repaired.
Another homeowner received a pro bono rewiring job, and two religious facilities - one in Latrobe and another in McKees Rocks - had their equipment updated. More than 125 volunteers from Tudi participated in the effort.
West Mifflin Area School District
Employees in this school district describe a management system that's keyed in on student and faculty concerns.
Workers described their bosses as people willing to listen and bearing a strong desire to improve the district each day for employees and the students they teach.
One worker cited "the overall knowledge they possess and the commitment of the team to continue to move the district in the right direction," going on to say superintendent Daniel Castagna "is a role model in supporting public education and the right of all student to obtain an education."
MSA (Mine Safety Appliances Co.)
The importance of communications in the mining industry is apparent to any observer, and especially so at this Cranberry firm charged with protecting the health and safety of workers in the energy industry.
The products created at MSA help workers communicate with one another in high-tech ways: with gas detection instruments or breathing apparatuses, or with thermal imaging cameras and fall-protection devices.
Leaders at the company also communicate to their employees the importance of planning ahead. Tuition reimbursement helps keep workers up-to-date on advancements in the industry, and the company offers planning for retirement through savings and pension plans.
Who doesn't want to feel appreciated when bringing their children and grandchildren to the doctor?
"We have been providing care for over 50 years," the company said. "A simple statement, but think about what that means. We have patients who not only grew up coming to us, but are now bringing their children, and in some cases, their grandchildren to us!"
At Pediatrics South in Mt. Lebanon, employees say that priority of appreciation continues when the patients leave the office.
One worker said the best part of working at Pediatrics South was "being complimented on a job well done by the physicians and the managers."
FedEx Ground Package System
FedEx works to get your deliveries to you on time, but when it comes to how employees use their own time, managers are willing to trust workers and allow flexible hours.
"Managers in my group also have families and understand when something pops up," wrote one worker.
Employees described a work environment where flexibility is permitted so long as the work is done.
Another said: "We're treated as professionals and trusted to get our work done without being pestered or tracked in terms of when we get it done or whether we are in the office a certain period of time."
Classes on communication, customer service and professionalism - some offered by Penn State University. Those are just some examples of the training practices in place at this Ellwood City-based bank, which also encourages employees to take courses in information technology.
"ESB Bank keeps us up to date with any changes and trains us to anything new," wrote one worker.
The education continues on an internal basis, as well, with executives holding a "State of the Corporation" dinner meeting and more informal morning chats with the bank president. (They might want to consider offering cooking classes: Every worker gets a free turkey at Thanksgiving.)
The folks at online retailer ModCloth throw some of the most unusual parties around.
There are the Grub & Garb days, where a clothing theme is matched with a food item. Example: Micro-Managed, where workers dined on microwavable foods while wearing power suits and pleated khakis.
The fun atmosphere is just one perk for the San Francisco-based retailer, which maintains operations near Pittsburgh, where it was founded. ModCloth has volunteer programs and free yoga classes, a relaxation room and a recreation room. The company is privately owned, though employees are awarded stock options.
Workers can also cash in on used clothing, since the company has a communal clothing rack set up where employees swap outgrown and unwanted items.
First Published October 25, 2012 12:00 am