Investing in employees creates winning atmosphere

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Sometimes in order to find the ingredients for a great workplace, you have to look outside the office.

In the annual Top Workplaces survey, employees at the nonprofit Mainstay Life Services reported that they benefit from receiving the formal training they want for their careers, while employees at the law firm Dickey, McCamey & Chilcote said they are allowed the flexibility they need to balance work and personal life. Employees at Coraopolis-based American Bridge Co., meanwhile, said their benefits package "is good compared to others in this industry."

Managers at the companies say support in these areas can have a positive ripple effect in the workplace.

"I really think it helps morale, which translates into better business," said Jeff Wiley, a managing partner at Dickey, McCamey & Chilcote.

The firm, which is based in Pittsburgh with 12 offices in Pennsylvania and other states, allows its employees to structure their days as best suits their schedule through a "flexible time" system. As long as they work 71/2 hours a day, they can come in whenever they choose between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Mr. Wiley said he has seen the system work well for employees with child-care issues who need to get home at an earlier hour than many of their colleagues. The flexibility makes them more content with their jobs, he said -- a claim supported both by the recognition as the company with the best Work/Life Flexibilty and by the firm's ability to hang on to its workers.

Fifteen to 20 employees at Dickey, McCamey & Chilcote have been with the firm for more than 30 years, Mr. Wiley said.

At Mainstay Life Services, employees have expressed a similar appreciation for the Training for which the organization was recognized.

"Mainstay allows me to grow professionally as well as maintaining an effective personal life balance," one worker said in the survey.

The nonprofit organization in Scott supports individuals with developmental disabilities. Its 340 employees serve 165 people in 59 homes throughout Allegheny County. The organization also provides in-home services to nearly 90 individuals in the region and hosts a summer camp for another 90.

Jim Kirk, executive director, said the nonprofit's employees require specialized training that matches the needs of the individuals they serve. An individual in one home, for example, might face specific dietary challenges.

"It's a highly regulated environment, and there are significant requirements in terms of training," Mr. Kirk said. "We've designed our training relative to the individual needs to the folks we provide care for."

Mr. Kirk said training is a "huge priority" for Mainstay Life Services because only 35 percent of its workforce has a college degree. The organization coordinates three days of preparatory training for new hires, bringing in outside experts to teach skills such as first aid and CPR.

Employees attend an additional 24 hours of training annually, some of which is spent reviewing medical administration and emergency procedures.

Mr. Kirk said the organization works to treat its employees the same way it would expect them to treat individuals receiving the care.


First Published September 12, 2013 4:00 AM


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