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A quick look at the winners.
















Cross Gunter Witherspoon & Galchus P.C. believes that employees should have a quality life at work. "Our line of work is stressful and demanding," said Rick Roderick, the firm's managing director. "We feel it is important to our success ... to have people balance their work with their lives."


The Little Rock law firm, which primarily handles labor and employment law defense, allows its employees to work flexible hours so they can adapt to a work schedule that fits their needs. Employees can even choose to compress their work week into four 10-hour days.

Another bonus for employees includes the firm's telecommunication system, which can be used when an employee needs to stay home for a family emergency. Also, the firm takes into consideration methods for judging work performance other than just billable hours like most law firms when awarding vacation time to its employees.

While the employees know how to work hard, they also know how to relax. The firm has frequent happy hour parties on Friday afternoons and provides snacks and prizes for employees. Holidays are also a big deal, with a Christmas party at the country club and prizes for the best costume during Halloween. Employees can also play for their health when they join the law firms' sponsored baseball team.

Although it is difficult balancing the firm's work with employees' personal lives, it's gotten easier with the changes the company's put in place, Roderick says.


St. Francis County EMS does not believe that work and family have to be on opposing sides. To make sure work cuts minimally into home I life, St. Francis has implemented special family-friendly policies.


To maximize employees' time with their families, St. Francis has visiting hours. Families are allowed to visit at work from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. and can also attend the monthly staff meetings, which include dinner provided by St. Francis.

Another bonus for St. Francis employees is the variety of shifts available. Employees can choose a day or night schedule, as well as a 24-hour shift, which means that an employee would have to work only 10 days in the month to meet full-time hours. Some employees use the flexibility in their shifts to spend more time with their families or even go back to school, according to EMS Director David Herzog.

Other benefits include sick time that can be used not only for employees' illness but also for the illness of any immediate family member within the household, family counseling services at no cost to employees and a payroll deduction plan that helps employees pay for their uniforms.

Without a doubt, when employees are hired, the company doesn't just welcome new staff members, it welcomes whole families - a fact that helps retain employees. "Once employees begin working here and realize what benefits they are receiving along with the work environment here, full-time employees want to stay," Herzog said.


The culture at Navigator Telecommunications focuses on keeping spirits high and stress down in a way that many other companies would envy.


"Our organization was founded by family and ... promotes the family," said Tammie Deaton, Navigator's director of human services. "A balance of work and family makes the employee more committed, dedicated and loyal, and this is the culture we have become successful with."

Navigator rallies its troops once a month for "Spirit Meetings," where employees celebrate and recognize personal and corporate progress. The company also has a healthy spread of incentive and reward programs. In an eight-month program called "Whale Done!" employees were given recognition cards with praise, and at the end of the term, top contenders won all-expense paid cruises.

Employees at Navigator can also enjoy a shortened workweek during the summer. Also, during last year's gas crisis, Navigator helped employees save gas by allowing a four-day workweek or work-from-home options, handing out gas cards randomly, giving weekly luncheons and offering carpool options.

Energizing employees throughout the year are the holiday celebrations, such as the Cinco de Mayo fiesta, Mardi Gras party, chili cook-off and Halloween decoration and costume contests.

To advance healthy lifestyle choices, the company hosts wellness seminars, nutrition demos, Weight Watchers at Work, "walkout' picnics, bike rides and smoking cessation classes. The fitness challenge program with rewards has dramatically improved employee health across the board.


Arkansas Educational Television Network creates an environment where employees are family. The support system makes employees feel as if their work is an extension of their home life.


With its "family first" commitment, AETN rallies around employees in their time need. The company has an employee fund that helps pay for things such as flowers and cards. Employees are also encouraged to donate unused annual leave time to a catastrophic leave bank for other employees to use during a crisis.

But employees don't need a crisis to show they care for one another. One employee offers free yoga classes during lunch to help decrease the stress around the office, while another has taught the staff CPR and how to use a defibrillator, which AETN keeps on hand for emergencies.

AETN also holds events for employees' families, including an annual Family Day with games and activities for children and adults. The company even allows eight hours of leave time for parents or grandparents to attend school functions.

"At AETN we have an incredible group of employees who represent our diverse society and work hard to bring a unique public service media to all Arkansans," AETN executive director Allen Weatherly said. "Our team has endured much together, even beyond the varied work experiences. It is the least we can do as a work place to be sensitive to all this and to foster a culture that always understands that family is first."


Benchmark Group's family-friendly policies are what elevate this company above most as it welcomes both employee and family to the fold.


Benchmark hosts an annual dinner for employees and their families and significant others to bring everyone closer. The event features dancing and live music, and employees have the option of getting their pictures taken by a professional photographer.

Benchmark also makes room for kid-friendly events like its annual Party with Santa. Children and grandchildren of the staff come in to visit

Santa, who is usually played by the office manager, and it thrills the children when Santa calls them by their names without asking.

In addition to Santa, the company allows parents to bring their kids to work when there is no other option available. "If worse comes to worst, we can bring our children to work with us, even just for a few hours," said Shannon Nerem, administrative assistant for Benchmark. "If our kids are sick, Benchmark does not count it against us for being gone to take care of them."

Benchmark's perks don't stop there. The telecommuting program allows employees to work from home, which enables them to take care of professional and personal matters. Also, Benchmark pays for 100 percent of the first two hours of personal legal services a year for staff members and their families. Other bonuses of working at Benchmark include catered lunches one day a week, a Casino Night, dinner at a minor league baseball game and a trip for 20 years of service.


To protect and enhance the daily work life of its employees, Delta Dental of Arkansas' policies reflect a welcoming environment.


Delta Dental shows that it cares for its employees by being flexible and providing a friendly atmosphere that keeps employees happy and healthy. Every month it hosts an employee appreciation lunch or breakfast, depending on what the employees choose, and the company has a thank-you bulletin board where people can post appreciation for hard work.

Delta Dental also knows that the health of its employees is important. It has created many wellness programs to encourage employees to live a healthy life. The company's Smoking Cessation Incentive Program encourages employees to be physically aware of their health. As an added motivation, Delta Dental will reimburse any employee who chooses to take Chantix, a prescription smoking-cessation drug not covered by insurance.

Another popular program is the company's Weight Loss Incentive Program. Employees active in the program are required to attend a weekly Weight Watchers meeting held on the premises of Delta Dental, which has provided cash bonuses in the past when goals have been met and weight has been lost and maintained.

"Improving the health of Arkansans is a core value of our company," said Ed Choate, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Arkansas. "Improving the health of our employees also improves their morale and productivity."


Despite being one of the smallest community colleges in Arkansas, Rich Mountain Community College has a pretty large vision in regards to its employees. The college believes that it's the little things that make a difference in the lives of their employees.


"Our policies and benefits have not only attracted but also retained employees when compared to other opportunities for employment in the area," said Judi White, director of community relations.

One thing RMCC stresses is the importance of employee health. Along with a discounted membership to the Ouachita Rehabilitation & Fitness Center, the college has appointed a committee responsible for implementing new ideas and activities that benefit the health of workers. The committee already has several initiatives underway, including cancer self-exam cards, a program for women's heart awareness, monthly e-mails about health awareness, step classes for employees and healthy snacking options at meetings.

Among the benefits for working moms and dads are a preschool/daycare that is housed on the RMCC campus and discounted tuition for employees' children who attend RMCC. And for those looking toward retirement, the college offers an early retirement program for ages 55-60 that allows employees to keep health insurance at the same premium as those working full time. RMCC also has classes and programs available year-round for its employees and their children, including Kids' College in the summer and the annual "Walk Across Polk County."


Knowing that employees sometimes struggle to balance work and home life, the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville eases the pressure with programs that help workers keep the juggling to a minimum.


The university understands that parents need time to take care of family business. To support its employees, UA gives each one eight hours of educational activity leave per year so that parents can attend events, meetings or conferences at their child's school. Flex time has also been implemented to benefit parents who have a disruption in their usual schedule or who need to spend time with a young child or sick parent.

Employees can access the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Building or the Pat Walker Health Center to improve their physical or emotional well-being. Cooking demonstrations that teach easy-to-make meals for healthier eating are available, as well as free health screenings throughout the year. The university also provides an employee assistance program designed to help with problems related to health, marriage, family, finances, the law, emotions, stress, alcohol or drugs.

Barbara Taylor, associate vice chancellor for human resources, said that she's proudest of the things that help employees cut costs, such as tuition discounts and insurance payments that are the same proportion for employees and their immediate family members. "[Our policies] make us more competitive both in recruiting and in retaining good faculty and staff," Taylor said.


As a large national corporation, SWEPCO's employee policies help it stand out from the pack. With a four percent turnover rate among 1,605 employees, this company is definitely doing something right to keep its employees loyal.


After 13 months of employment, SWEPCO's full-time employees receive 80 hours of vacation plus 24 hours of personal day-off time. Also, employees are allowed to take time off to attend school related functions, such as parent-teacher conferences. And if employees want to work at the polls on Election Day, then the company gives them paid leave for the day.

Loving your furry friends is OK by SWEPCO as well. They offer veterinary pet insurance for dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets, reptiles and more, covering more than 6,400 medical conditions that animals might face during their lifetime, including cancer.

SWEPCO also has an impressive wellness program. The company offers up to $200 in incentives for employees who participate in a free health screening, complete an online health risk assessment, enlist the help of a health coach and complete at least two goals through the coaching program.

The company has many other benefits in its work environment. Its scholarship program for employees' dependents awards up to $7,000 per student over a four-year period each year. "The recipient and his or her family members attend a luncheon with our executives to celebrate an exciting time in their young adult life. It is fun to watch the chapter of a new beginning. Who knows? They may be an employee one day!" said Johna E. Hays, SWEPCO's human resources regional manager.


Fayetteville Public School District realizes that retaining good employees, both teachers and support staff, is key to helping students achieve goals, and as a result, the district has taken steps to ensure that its policies reflect its desire to keep the best of the best.


One impressive step that the district has taken is the addition of the Fayetteville Public Schools Fitness Center for faculty and staff and their families' use. The center features free personal training, a full gym, free fitness classes including Pilates and body sculpting, nutritional counseling, cholesterol and blood pressure checks and discounted massages.

"Not only has it helped a significant number of employees improve their physical fitness, it has provided opportunities for nutritional counseling and informal networking," said Dr. Lisa Morstad, the district's chief financial officer. "Families of employees are also invited to be members, so it also provides healthy activities for families to do together. It has been highly valued by our employees and accounts for one of the highest levels of participation in our benefits package."

But the district also focuses on how it can help its employees juggle both work and home. It provides a dry cleaning and laundry pick-up and drop-off service at each building for its employees. Another employee benefit is free financial training on topics like debt reduction and retirement investing. Counseling for first-time homebuyers is also available.


In large corporations, it's often easy to lose touch with the people who help it function. 3M strives to keep the lines of communication open with its employees across the country and supply all with much-needed solutions for balancing home and work.


Employees are 3M's greatest asset, and the company tries to do what it can to make sure employees are able to balance their work life with their home life.

This national corporation offers things such as a Farmers' Market June-September, physical therapy on site and an escort services to and from your car if it's dark at its St. Paul headquarters. The company also has an urgent care clinic, back-up childcare, dry cleaning drop-off and pick-up service and a gift shop. Its nationwide programs include a maternity program, flu shots for the year, 24-hour nurse lines and walking paths.

The company also has a Lunch & Learn program that allows employees to eat lunch while watching videos or a web streams about things that might aid them in their home life, such as relationship building, stress management, health and wellness or parenting.

3M shows its employees that their children are important too. Its adoption assistance program offers employees 90 percent of adoption expenses, up to $2,500. And 3M also allows employees access to a phone consultation with a child care specialist who helps parents find child care that will meet the family's needs.
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Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:May 18, 2009
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