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Best companies to work for: senior leaders walk the talk at firms touting work-life balance.

For the key to 10th annual Best Companies to Work For in Colorado, look no further than the C-suite.

"What employees think of senior leaders has a significant impact on what they think of the organization as a whole," says Rich Boyer, founding partner at ModernThink, the organizational development and management-consulting firm that gathers the data and determines the ranking of the Best Companies to Work For. "When you have senior leaders who espouse a work-life balance, what that sends is a message that's something they care about - in the well-being of their employees."

This year's rankings feature some newbies--Total Quality Logistics, Quick Left and OZ Architecture, among others--and some legacy groups, including Edward Jones, Bona US and Odell Brewing Co. Each endured a rwo-part assessment: an employee survey; and a review of policies, practices and demographics.

Themes covered in the employee survey include communication, collaboration, senior leadership, relationships with supervisors, pride and recognition, among others. In essence, how employees rate their engagement levels with the company determines a company's rating.

"Lots of organizations look great on paper," Boyer says. "But when you get down to the day-to-day experience of the employees, it doesn't measure up."

Anybody can offer monthly massages or discounted gym memberships. The game-changer, Boyer says, is making benefits both relevanr and meaningful. An example: KPMG's new parent career coaching, training for an effective transition to a new life role.

"It's taking that to the next level," Boyer says. "The message is, 'We want you to be a successful human being, not just a successful employee.'"

Benefits that make sense within the company's culture provide more value, Boyer says, such as Odell Brewing's weekly beer allotment.

"As fun as that is, there's something unique about that, when we can provide benefits unique to what we offer, the benefit makes a lot of sense for them," he says. "Some financial service organizations have banking services deeply discounted or provided free of cost, a meaningful benefit they're uniquely able to offer."

Even for those companies that don't make the cut, the information can be invaluable.

"Because of the data we have, we can very quickly help organizations understand where they are on the continuum of workplace quality," Boyer says.

That, in turn, can impact the employment brand, a crucial factor in winning the talent wars.

"When you're out there trying to recruit employees, employment brand is important," Boyer says. "When you're known to be a place people work hard but also play hard, that can be very compelling."

Read on to find out more about the 25 winners: some of their perks, their passions and their people.

SMALL

1

Total Quality Logistics

www.tql.com

Location: Denver

The culture: TQL operates on four "Winning Principles": Pledge integrity. Exceed expectations. Recognize the value of teamwork. Be forthright about conflict

Perks: TQL's famous "Beer Drop Fridays" occur every time the team breaks a company record or hits a major milestone. Other perks: Discounted LA Fitness memberships; family-oriented events such as the Easter Eggstravaganza; the TQL Summer Picnic; TQL's Pancakes with Santa; and patio parties, complete with grilling, ping-pong and bean bag toss tournaments to foster team building and camaraderie.

Giving back: Employees volunteer at the Denver Rescue Mission and have an annual fundraiser, Hauls for Heroes, in which a portion from every load TQL arranges during a given week during the month of May is donated to a foundation that supports and sends care packages to troops.

The inside scoop: From a recent hire: "I have the privilege of working with some of my best friends. Ping-pong, in-office TVs, fantastic camaraderie, after-work happy hours--all of these things are paramount to keeping people sane while battling the daily grind. So often I hear people talking about how much they hate their job, how much they hate their boss, how Monday mornings are the worst part of their week. I feel incredibly lucky to have no idea what that feels like."

2

VolkBell

www.volkbelt.com

Location: Longmont

The culture: A focus on character: living the company's values and valuing each other. Executives hire for character above skill or experience. According to the ModernThink survey: "We believe that you can train anyone to do a job, but truly strong character comes from within the individual, and at the end of the day, that is what matters most in order to build our organization and best serve our clients and the community."

Perks: Teams focus on ways to incorporate fun into the organization and focus on community service opportunities. Activities have included: building a golf course in the office, bowling competitions, Easter egg hunts and picnics.

Giving back: The offices "adopt" a few families, including a single mother, during the holidays, then provide meals, gifts or financial support to help them through a specific hardship. Employees also individually volunteer at local humane societies, Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children and The Community Foundation of Northern Colorado Celebration of Philanthropy. They participate in Longmont's "Clean and Green" initiative and adopt a park to keep clean.

The inside scoop: Survey results exposed: "When an employee's parent passed away, the office was closed so that everyone would be able to attend the funeral and support that individual. The owners are so focused on taking care of their employees that they are the ones who drive our wellness programs, not only from activity and nutrition standpoints, but also through a strong emphasis on mental health, including managing stress levels, getting enough sleep and recognizing gratitude."

3

Gutterman Griffiths PC

www.ggfamilylaw.com

Location: Littleton

The culture: A family dedicated to helping families, and each other: a team approach to combine talent and experience to ensure each client gets precisely the expertise that case requires.

Perks: The firm's Pathfinders mentoring program hires recent college graduates as legal and technology assistants, receptionists and junior paralegals, allowing them to gain experience and training in a real legal environment, enabling them to understand the day-to-day demands of the profession. If they decide to attend law school, the firm provides partial tuition funding. Other perks include bonuses, profit sharing, lunch provided every Wednesday, in-office massages, monthly volunteer time off and team-building events, such as hiking Fourteeners.

Giving back: The firm contributes to the legal community through continuing legal education courses, pursuing mentoring opportunities, and participating on commissions, committees and task forces. Work in support of women includes the Domestic Violence Task Force and Colorado Bar Association Domestic Violence and Legal Issues Committee; the National Council of Jewish Women; and the Colorado Women's Chamber of Commerce and Women's Leadership Foundation.

The inside scoop: An employee feedback survey shared: "One of the firm's most valued and experienced paralegals was determined to attend law school, but she did not want to abandon her part in the practice that she so enjoyed. She now attends University of Denver's Sturm College of Law at night, receives a contribution to her tuition by the firm, and has an offer to join the firm as an associate when she graduates, which she plans to accept. This opportunity to use the Pathfinders program to develop young minds into future leaders of the firm speaks volumes about the value these young people bring to the firm, and the value they place on their experience with the firm."

4

J.G. Management Systems Inc.

www.jgmsinc.com

Location: Grand Junction The culture: JGMS is an organization built on people and four principles: Stewardship. Leadership. Integrity. Commitment.

Perks: JGMS provides a year-end bonus to each part- and full-time employee, based on company profits. Also available: a company-paid Employee Stock Ownership Plan and a $1,000 annual professional development allowance for seminars, university classes, and/or updating certification requirements and professional association memberships.

Giving back: JGMS is a direct contributor to the Riverside Education Center in Grand Junction, which provides academic, social and general mentoring to arguably the most financially impacted young people in the region. Employees also tutor the students. The company is a longtime supporter of the Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve, which works with returning troops to provide employment assistance.

The inside scoop: ModernThink results divulged: "An employee made a significant error, costing the company over $20,000 in a week to correct. On the verge of being terminated, the management team opted to place the employee on a performance improvement plan with targeted behavior goals. The PIP was successfully completed, the employee was retained, the mistake has not been replicated, and the employee's performance is so much better that he is being considered for additional responsibilities."

5

BluSky Restoration Contractors Inc.

www.goblusky.com

Location: Centennial

The culture: Everyone pitches in and lends a hand in all situations, whenever, wherever. One employee shared: "Our culture is to cultivate and grow our internal talent and help develop and grow the careers of our employees. We always look to our employees for personal referrals when we have open positions because we believe that the best employees run in similar circles and have equally talented referrals. Our employees are collectively known as the BluSky Nation, but are also fondly known as the BluSky Family."

Perks: All BluSky employees receive a 90-minute delayed start from their normal start time on rwo "Remembrance Days": Sept. 11 and Dec. 7. BluSky also holds team-building events, retreats and happy hours.

Giving back: BluSky holds an annual "Clays for Kids" fundraising event to benefit a local shelter for women and children. In exchange for a monetary donation to the women's charity, BluSky invites employees, clients and networking partners to spend a day at a local shooting range and shoot clay pigeons.

The inside scoop: From an employee: "I really enjoy working in an environment where I feel my voice is heard and my opinions and ideas matter to senior leadership."

6

Endodontic Specialists of Colorado

www.endospec.com

Location: Colorado Springs

The culture: A true family atmosphere, where mutual respect is paramount. "Since staff is cross-trained, we always are there for one another to cover the needs of our practice as they may arise. Being able to respect and look out for one another truly makes our place unique in so many ways. Everyone seems to love working here! We have had many staff move away, and come back to us over the years," one employee shared.

Perks: Office outings have included bowling, wine tasting and a murder mystery dinner show, to name a few. The doctors have been known to "surprise" staff with various bonuses such as ice cream or gift cards. Staff receive no-cost continuing education opportunities.

Giving back: The company offers a flu shot clinic to other offices within the dental community. The staff volunteers with Colorado Mission of Mercy, giving dental care to local patients in need. The office also works with a number of charitable organizations offering free root canal services to in-need kids and adults.

The inside scoop: "Recently, we had a couple of staff who were out on leaves of absence for medical reasons," one survey said. "Recognizing how this can leave those staff members in a financial bind, our culture is such that our employees donated their PTO to those staff members who were out to lessen the hardship during their time off."

7

Insperity

www.insperity.com

Location: Denver

The culture: Insperity's corporate culture provides a sense of identity and promotes core values, including teamwork, commitment, trust and integrity. The HR-services provider's goal is to have a corporate culture that encourages a balance between family, work and community so they complement and add value to one another.

Perks: Employees get 19 days paid time-off, eight paid holidays, medical, dental and vision benefits, 401 (k), tuition reimbursement and 12 hours of paid volunteer time each quarter so they can participate in company-sponsored volunteer events or with an organization of their choice. Employees can contribute to the 401 (k) plan beginning with their first pay period, and the company matches the first 6 percent employees contribute on a 50 percent basis. For private adoptions Of adoptions licensed through agencies, Insperity will reimburse an eligible full-time active employee up to a maximum of $1,500 for qualified adoption expenses.

Giving back: Insperity has participated in numerous community service initiatives in the Denver area, including Denver Rescue Mission, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Families First, Utban Peak, Junior Achievement, Ronald McDonald House, American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

The inside scoop: The company established "The Insperity Fund" to aid employees who experience a time of crisis that warrants financial assistance due to unforeseen circumstances. Insperity provides corporate contributions to this fund, but it is primarily sustained by employee donations.

8

Moneytree

www.moneytreeinc.com

Location: Headquattered in Seattle; satellite locations throughout Colorado

The culture: Moneytree is built on the golden rule: Treat people how you want to be treated.

Perks: Employees who work 20 or more hours per week receive fully paid medical, dental and vision insurance coverage. Moneytree offers a company-funded profit-sharing retirement plan and reimburses full-time employees up to $2,000 per calendar year for college tuition and part-time employees up to $1,000 per calendar year for college tuition after six months of employment. Performance bonuses are paid monthly to all branch and Payment Center employees.

Giving back: The Community Involvement Fund has donated to more than 200 nonprofit organizations that focus their efforts on children and family welfare, medical research and financial literacy. Each time a team member earns a perfect score on a Customer Service Assessment, funds are added to their district's Community Involvement Fund. Colorado employees have supported Make-a-Wish Foundation, ALS Association Rocky Mountain Chapter, Denver Children's Advocacy Center, Quarters for Kids and many more.

The inside scoop: Comments from a Colorado employee survey: "I believe in the company, and I am personally inspired by the focus to continue being the best in our industry. I feel that Moneytree is a truly positive group of employees and leaders, and I love going to work every day."

9

R.A. Nelson LLC

www.ranelson.com

Location: Avon

The culture: Work-life balance is key: "As a firm believer in a work-life balance, our company encourages employees to support their personal pursuits, whether that be taking advantage of the mountains we live in, continuing education opportunities, or their family," ModernThink results indicated.

Perks: R.A. Nelson offers a scholarship program to employee dependents from first grade through college. It also supports employee continuing education opportunities.

Giving back: The Summit County general contractor supports numerous local nonprofits with a focus on assisting local children and youth programs. Last year, R.A. Nelson donated nearly $80,000 to local charities, and staff donated their time to help with highway clean-up of its adopted two-mile "ECO Trail" section, organized the company-sponsored Turkey Trot for the Youth Foundation, and built homes with Habitat for Humanity. Other supported charities include Walking Mountains Science Center, Eagle River Youth Coalition and the Bright Future Foundation.

The inside scoop: "For the past several years, we have been supporting the education in Nepal of the nephew of one of our employees, who is working toward his bachelor's in Hospitality Hotel Management in the International School of Tourism and Hotel Management," a company member said. "R.A. Nelson's support over the years has given him the opportunity to have an education to support himself and his family that he would not have had otherwise."

10

Quick Left

www.quickleft.com

Location: Boulder

The culture: Quick Left maintains an open-door policy that encourages employees to interact with each other. "In fact, we don't have any offices (just conference rooms), so employees work shoulder to shoulder with everyone--including execs," ModernThink feedback revealed.

Perks: The company provides stock options to its team members at the time of hire as well as additional grants based on merit/contribution. New employees are eligible for The Quick Left 401 (k) after three months, with a one-to-one company match up to 3 percent of income.

The office kitchen offers healthy goodies such as Clif Bars and fruit, as well as regular company-provided lunches. Quick Left is a pet-friendly office, and provides a corporate membership rate to a Boulder climbing gym.

Giving back: The company hosts quarterly Hackfests, free events to bring together the developer and designer communities and build innovative applications that solve real-world problems in three hours or less.

The inside scoop: "Biking specifically has allowed us to not only attract great talent (and clients) but also inspired our employees to bike to work. We have indoor bike parking and regularly have it overflowing with bikes. We're doing our community a favor in part by having less cars on the road, and our employees are fitter and happier (and possibly more competitive) than before," a Quick Left team member said.

MEDIUM

1

Odell Brewing Co.

www.odellbrewing.com

Location: Fort Collins

The culture: The orientation program immediately immerses new additions into the company culture, matching them with a mentor who takes the new co-worker on a tour of the facility, introduces him/her to other co-workers, answers questions and often will share a beer at the end of the day. Each new hire spends time in each department and rides along to see the beer in the market, helps develop a recipe and brew the beer, and participates in a series of open-book classes with CEO Wynne Odell.

Perks: In addition to a weekly beer allotment, Odell Brewing Co. pays for up to 30 people to attend the Craft Brewers Conference, an event hosted in different cities each year. Employees with tenure of five years or more receive a trip to Europe to explore brewing culture and significant others are invited, too. The Culture Club creates fun, interactive events for co-workers such as movie nights, barbeques, ski trips, Rockies games, Rapids games, beer dinners, concerts, bowling, trivia nights, volleyball and holiday parties.

Giving back: The company donated $100,000 to launch a Fermentation Science major at Colorado State University and has supported a Fermentation Science course for 10 years, contributing a small brewing system for students. Odell Outreach includes Team Build Days with a variety of nonprofits in the area. Projects have included erosion mitigation and flood damage restoration in the Big Thompson Canyon, and planting in fire damaged areas in the Poudre Canyon, as well as "The House that Beer Built," which brought together nine other Fort Collins breweries to raise $100,000 for a Habitat for Humanity house.

The inside scoop: "Our focus on wellness and healthy activities has become a bigger area of interest for our co-workers," one Odell employee shared. "Our social media co-workers said that running in the Colorado Marathon with more than a dozen of her co-workers was wonderful. (During) the Boot Camp Challenge, 20 of us, ranging in age from 24 to 64 are all getting together in our neighborhood park to be tortured by our coach. It is extremely challenging, and we all encourage each other to do our best and push ourselves. Our marketing manager recently said, 'This place is like a big family. We may not always like what someone is doing, but we all genuinely care about each other.'"

2

Anton Collins Mitchell LLP

www.acmllp.com

Location: Denver The culture: Life-work integration and flexibility define the tax preperation service's culture.

"We work hard, play hard, and face each day with optimism. That allows us to see challenges as new opportunities to grow, and obstacles as things that are self-imposed," read the ModernThink assessment. "We know that every situation has a good solution. The key to finding it is maintaining objectivity, communication and integrity."

Perks: The company took all managers, partners and their significant others or spouses to Las Vegas for two days of play before an educational conference, including two days of food and drink in cabanas by the pool, airfare for each employee and his or her guest, a group dinner at a Las Vegas restaurant, and a stipend for fun.

Giving back: ACM participates in Junior Achievement's In- A-Day program, in which volunteers adopt school(s) for an entire day, teaching students the basic concepts of business and economics and how education is relevant to the workplace.

The inside scoop: According to company feedback: "One senior-level employee encountered personal hardships that made him question if he wanted to remain in public accounting at all due to the demands of the career. He went to the firm's managing partner and later said, 'I was really shown what it is like to have a leader that cares about you as a person. The support provided through this time was invaluable and instrumental in both my personal and professional life. As a result, the loyalty I now feel is unparalleled. When you have a leader that demonstrates they care about you and your ultimate success, you know that you have found a home.'"

3

OnDeck

www.ondeck.com

Location: Denver

The culture: Key defining values are passion, openness, impact and ingenuity.

"We think big and act boldly. We know that the best outcomes happen when we work together," an OnDeck team member shared. "Employees work as a team and we encourage collaboration through our open floor plan, which allows team members to easily have access to the people they need help from to do their job, including executive leadership."

Perks: OnDeck offers Baby Bonding Leave policies for new mothers and fathers that add up to 12 weeks paid time off for pregnancy, childbirth or adoption for individuals who have been with the company on a full-time basis for at least six consecutive months. OnDeck team members are eligible to receive a complimentary one-year membership to One Medical Group, an innovative, primary care medical practice that specializes in responsive, patient-centered care.

Giving back: The company is in the process of crafting a new give-back program.

The inside scoop: Survey results indicated: "After our 2013 Annual Culture Survey, our team members provided feedback that they wanted a company 401 (k) match. Within three months, we listened to our employees and responded with implementing a match. Not only were our employees excited about the match, but they were delighted to see their feedback was heard and acted upon. This has resulted in our employees providing open and honest feedback on other programs and ideas."

4

ReadyTalk

www.readytalk.com

Location: Denver

The culture: Playfulness is a key value. According to the ModernThink evaluation: "ReadyTalk believes it's essential for our employees to maintain a good balance between work and play. We communicate this idea to our employees by encouraging them to take short breaks throughout the day."

Perks: Activities around the office include the occasional Nerf Dart flying across the room, Scrabble boards, Hula Hoops, Jenga, pingpong and portable putting greens. The "Nerd Lounge" is equipped with a Nintendo Wii--with Guitar Hero--and an X-box 360. Other incentives: in-office beer kegs, weekly yoga classes and massages, a mentorship program, reimbursement for professional association membership fees, paid networking events, seminars, and other training and education events, $5,000 annual tuition assistance.

Giving back: Employees receive 20 hours of paid volunteer time per year, and the company matches employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to $500 annually. During 2014, employees donated $13,656, which was matched by ReadyTalk. Over the past several years, ReadyTalk has volunteered for 11 build days with Habitat for Humanity.

The inside scoop: From an employee: "Leaving ReadyTalk was a really interesting experience because from the moment I left, I missed it. It was like one of those breakups where you don't want to part ways, but you have to due to circumstances, like going away to college. Moving to Hawaii was a dream (or so we thought). My family and I decided that we were going to move back to Colorado this winter and I was fortunate enough to be offered my job back with ReadyTalk. It's not that I didn't appreciate my work environment when I left, but I have a whole other level of appreciation for this company now that I am back. I have immense gratitude for the leadership team, the people, and the work culture that I now describe as magic."

5

Bona US Inc.

www.mybonahome.com

Location: Aurora

The culture: Being family friendly is key. "(It) comes naturally to our culture, as Bona is and has forever been owned and operated by the same family," one Bona teammate indicated.

Perks: A Zen meditation room features low lighting, a leather recliner and a waterfall--as well as a lock to ensure privacy for nursing mothers. Other perks include casual dress code, monthly on-site complimentary massages, birthdays off, health club reimbursement, in-office happy hours, free snacks and four to eight hours of paid time off to volunteer.

Giving back: The company volunteers at the Food Bank of the Rockies and participates in Plant a Tree day in Colorado each summer. Bona employees also support CASA, a nonprofit dedicated to helping local children in foster care, through book and clothing drives and the annual Christmas giving-tree.

The inside scoop: "For the past five years, Bona has operated a summer internship program for Bona employees' family members. We have been lucky enough to employ and mentor grandchildren, children, nieces and nephews for the summer months," the survey stated. "Students get the opportunity to work cross-functionally in areas such as marketing, administration, accounting and supply chain. The chance for high school students to gain work experience in an office is next to impossible in todays work environment, and Bona is proud to offer the experience to family members of employees."

6

8z Real Estate

www.8z.com

Location: Boulder

The culture: 8z Real Estate has whole heartedly adopted its mission statement: "Real Estate is broken, we are fixing it." When hiring, 8z looks for Realtors who believe and follow the company's core values. "The commitment to put clients first is a priority in all decisions that affect a client."

Perks: When an employee chooses to buy or sell a home with an 8z Realtor, the company gives a $ 1,000 thank-you back for choosing 8z. If an employee refers a friend who buys or sells a home with an 8z Realtor, they receive a $250 referral.

Giving back: 8z Real Estate supports the Greenhouse Scholars program by making a donation on behalf of every client after closing. 8z is also an event sponsor of the Colorado Venus de Miles bike ride, gifting $10,000 cash funding, providing volunteers, a rest station and entertainment at the finishers festival. 8z Real Estate staff founded the nonprofit Salute Colorado, which supports veterans in their post-service careers.

The inside scoop: From 8z Realtor Ami Quass: "I had worked with people who didn't have integrity. When I read 8z's motto, that real estate is broken, I agreed. As a Realtor, we are working for the client, not ourselves. I wanted to find a brokerage that I would work at for the rest of my career. I like the atmosphere of my office where everyone works hard, is professional and genuine."

7

Vi at Highlands Ranch

www.viliving.com

Location: Highlands Ranch

The culture: Vi's philosophy is centered on core values of integrity, compassion and excellence.

"These guiding principles are behind everything we do," an employee shared. "The way we serve our residenrs, the way we engage our employees and the way we lead our company. We never lose sight of our unique work environment--our residents' homes. Our approach creates a friendly, family-like atmosphere in which employees benefit from their relationships with residents and with one another"

Perks: Employees in non-manager roles receive an annual bonus from a fund sponsored by Vi's residents. In 2014, more than $276,000 was raised by the residents, with an average bonus of nearly $1,500.

Giving back: Employees participate in the Annual Alzheimer's Walk and host an annual Denver-area event to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer's Association, with games, a dunk tank, prizes, and a live band. Vi at Highlands Ranch hosts an annual MUDD Volleyball tournament to raise money for the March of Dimes.

The inside scoop: "Our employees' passion for serving older adults creates an exceptional work environment that contributes to our success," ModernThink results shared. "These bonds are so strong that in many of the Vi communities, residents have established formal programs such as scholarships, for the benefit of our employees and their family members. In some communities, residents provide English language training to employees who speak English as a second language. Over 500 employees company-wide (nearly one-fifth of Vi's work force) have taken advantage of this program since its inception."

8

OZ Architecture

www.ozarch.com

Location: Denver

The culture: Work hard, play hard.

"There is the understanding and willingness to allow play to be part of our work environment," an OZ team member shared. "We're serious professionals, but we have a great sense of humor as an organization, so things like nerf gun wars are not unheard of."

Perks: Throughout the year, firm principals give spot bonuses of $50 or $100 gift cards to any employee putting in effort beyond expectations. Frequent events, such as a Ski Day include transportation, refreshments and lift tickets at Winter Park. Monthly "Beer 30" events gather everyone at the OZ bar and outdoor patio to enjoy beer, wine and conversation. A community garden and bicycle tune-up workshops are just a few other options of perks employees can take advantage of.

Giving back: For more than four years, OZ has participated in the Cleworth Architectural Legacy (CAL) Program of the Denver Architectural Foundation. The program partners architecture, design and construction firms with Denver Public Schools, instructing students to connect with their built environments. This year, a group of employees committed to organize at least one community service activity each month. So far, they have completed: Coat Drive for Salvation Army; Design-After-Dark Event for the Denver Art Museum's Department of Architecture, Design, and Graphics; Kitchen Volunteer Day at Project Angel Heart; Denver Digs Trees for the Park People; Doors Open Denver for the Denver Architectural Foundation, among others.

The inside scoop: From an OZ employee: "Many companies claim to foster an entrepreneurial spirit, but OZ truly lives up to that promise. I remember asking in one of my reviews, 'What should I do if I want a role that doesn't yet exist at OZ? How do I get there?' The answer was: 'Carve a path, aim in a direction and go for it.' I wrote a plan for roll out and forecasted the (brand development) department's potential for profitability and incremental revenue. I presented the plan to the board, and they unanimously supported OZ's very first Brand Development service area and my role as Director of Brand Development. I am proud to work for a company that believes in its employees, where everyone's ideas are truly considered and the entepreneurial spirit thrives."

9

Mountain Family Health Centers

www.mountainfamily.org

Location: Glenwood Springs

The culture: Celebrating the culture and diversity of both patients and employees: "Each person is an important piece of the puzzle and has a specific function or job to do. Instead of trying to make everyone fit a mold, we are each celebrated for our individuality and contribution to the working environment of the clinic. Often you will hear people in the hallways say that working here is like working with family. This is important because there is a closeness in the work place and an understanding that complications may arise, but in the end we are all aiming for the same goal: Great patient care and great employment," survey feedback said.

Perks: Relocation benefit of $5,000 out of state and $3,000 in state eligibility for tuition reimbursement through the Colorado Health Service Corps Credit union membership. Health coverage includes short-disability, accident insurance, medical bridge insurance, cancer insurance, critical illness insurance and $400 yearly benefit for medical services at all MFHC sites.

Giving back: MFHC serves more then 15,000 low-income people annually, providing medical, dental and behavioral care services. "We are a leader in affordable integrated healthcare access. What we deliver daily changes the trajectory of patients' lives."

The inside scoop: According to one employee's survey feedback: "Our company does DISC personal insight profiles on all supervisors and managers. There has been a Ripple Effect Training for the entire organization through the Center for Nursing Excellence. The point of these ongoing trainings is to explore the different personalities and strengths of employees and show how to best work together and play to those strengths. This also can give better insight as to why there may be friction between co-workers, and they can work together to come to a resolution."

10 Encompass Home Health of Colorado

www.ehhi.com

Locations: Colorado Springs

The culture: Visibility and accessibility to the executive leadership team; ongoing length of service awards and ceremonies held at the local level; well-defined and proactively promoted mission statement and activities to support.

Perks: Encompass Development Center provides training and education at the office, while an Encompass Scholarship Program and the Young Scholars Program allow for continued education. Encompass Cares is a nonprofit funded mostly by employees to support mission trips and community activities. Finally, company cars allow employees to travel in style.

Giving back: An Annual Day of Giving in September, in which employees make contributions to Encompass Cares, builds funds to sponsor mission trips and grant requests from community members.

The inside scoop: "Our clinical care givers see patients every day of the week regardless of the weather conditions," a team member shared. "When there are snow and ice storms in Colorado, our teams ban together to ensure that we see patients in order to provide the necessary treatments and care. The employees will partner up in vehicles in order to be safe, plus further divide up territories so that employees can drive the shortest distance possible to see the patients with important medical needs. This was the case the last two winters in particular in Colorado."

LARGE

1

Edward Jones

www.edwardjones.com

Location: Broomfield

The culture: Balance of employees' professional lives and personal ones: "The company is 100 percent employee-owned, and associates live an all-for-one-and-one-for-all philosophy. Workers are associates rather than employees, bosses are leaders and first names are preferred tor all, including the managing partner. This highlights respect for the individual and emphasizes that every person's contribution matters," feedback stated.

Perks: Everyone shares in the firm's profits through bonuses and for many associates, limited partnership. The firm created Offices in Transition (OIT) to support branch teams facing unusual circumstances with extra time off, special pay arrangements, a health-benefits exception, quick assistance in a natural disaster or preventative programs to head off crisis. Under the Goodknight Program, experienced financial advisers give away some accounts to help their newest colleagues.

Giving back: In Colorado, the Edward Jones-organized Norma Stewart Memorial Wilk/Run in Westminster honors a branch office administrator murdered on the job by her ex-husband, and raises money for a nonprofit focused on domestic and child abuse. In 2014, Edward Jones topped all firms' United Way employee campaigns, raising a record $5.25 million through the participation of 74 percent of home-office associates. These associates also pledged 11,000 hours of volunteer time to United Way.

The inside scoop: According to one employee: "In February 2014, a branch office administrator in Boulder was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She received the news while at work. Not only did her financial adviser provide immediate encouragement, he offered to take her home or arrange for her family to pick her up. Since then, he has given her the freedom to take off whatever time she needs for treatments, appointments or whenever she needs extra rest."

2 KPMG LLP

www.kpmg.com

Location: Denver

The culture: Each employee is part of something bigger. "Whether instilling trust in capital markets, helping clients make better business decisions, helping clients understand and respond to regulatory complexity, or helping identify and address community needs, being part of something beyond one's individual work is a strong component of KPMG's culture," said an employee on the assessment.

Perks: Six hours of free New Parent Career Coaching to support and improve retention as both men and women work through this life transition. Specially trained coaches help employees think through perceived barriers, identify and develop acrion plans, and create solutions that allow them to remain engaged and committed to their KPMG careers. To make sure employees are rested before the industry's "busy season"--January to April--the firm closes for the last two weeks of the calendar year.

Giving back: In 2014, the Denver offices gave 1,317 volunteer hours and more than $230,000 to roughly 55 organizations in need, including Junior Achievement, JDRP, Denver Children's Home, Boy Scouts of America, AMP the Cause, Firsr Book, Denver Road Home and the Mile High United Way. KPMG's Family for Literacy program puts new books into the homes of underserved children throughout the U.S. KPMG's Denver office has donated more than 26,000 books to children in the Denver metro area.

The inside scoop: Last summer, KPMG leadership launched the "10,000 Stories Challenge," which generated nearly 41,000 employee stories, including 1,690 from Denver. Among the responses: "I helped build Colorado's future. I helped Colorado companies access capital to develop new technologies, bring new drugs to market and create opportunities for (Coloradans). The work we do for our clients in Denver helps them provide electricity to the U.S., paving the way for development and comfortable living." Denver's overwhelming response led to a $20,000 award for the office to donate to local charities.

3

SquareTwo Financial

www.squaretwofinancial.com

Location: Denver

The culture: A people-focused culture and recruitment effort to guarantee the best talent for a position and the right fit. "This ensures a culture where people feel comfortable at SquareTwo Financial right off the bat, and can start contributing immediately.

Across the board, dedication to the company's "Fair Square Promise": "A commitment to treat each customer with fairness and respect, while working together to create a payment solution that is appropriate for their unique financial situation," survey feedback stated.

Perks: Free Eco passes; 16 paid volunteer hours; any excuse to get together, including free hot dogs on National Hot Dog Day; pancake breakfast on National Pancake Day; National Guacamole Day; the start of football season with a Broncos tailgate party on a Friday afternoon in early fall; Breast Cancer Awareness month with Pink Fridays in October for which the company donates $1 for each employee wearing pink; and employee appreciation day with a latte bar.

Giving back: Through SquareTwo's commitment to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Colorado, the company has pioneered an Impact School, with employees donating both time and supplies to every student participating in Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Through a partnership with both Food for Thought and Denver Rescue Mission, employees helped provide meals to Denver's neethest families. SquareTwo employees participated in the Rock-A-Belly event, packing up boxes for more than 100,000 meals to be distributed internationally.

The inside scoop: According to one employee: "For the annual corporate review event, called the Power Party, we picked "The Voice' as the theme. Senior leadership team members portrayed the judges, and a group of employees served as contestants. The employees were selected from a tryout, and then received voice training before the main event. During the Power Party, the employees performed their chosen song, matched up to a core value or business goal, at specific times. Select employees received awards including Best New Artist, Performance of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Artist of the Year, Duo/Group of the Year. It was a novel way to liven up what could be perceived as a dry corporate event, and allowed our senior leadership team and employees to show a new side."

4

Pulte Mortgage LLC

www.pultemortgage.com

Location: Englewood

The culture: Low turnover, long tenure. Results stated: "Our company operates on a first-name basis. Our email directory is sorted by first name, not last, and each employee has a photo uploaded in email so employees can put a face with a name. Photos and name plates are also posted outside each row of workstations throughout the building so that... we get to know one another."

Perks: The Denver-based headquarters includes an on-site game room complete with foosball, darts, ping-pong and shuffleboard, along with a private library. The lunchroom has a large outdoor dining area and big-screen TV. A 'Winter Bazaar' allows employees to sell items or crafts they've made to other employees.

Giving back: Pulte Mortgage gives a portion of every loan closing to MBA Opens Doors Foundation, which provides housing payment grants to parents and guardians with critically ill or injured children, allowing them to take unpaid leave without jeopardizing their homes.

The inside scoop: When one employee was diagnosed with breast cancet and set to undergo surgery, the team learned that not only was she living alone with no one to help her after the surgery, she was also sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Knowing it would be difficult for her to get in and out of bed after the surgery, her department unanimously pooled their resources. Together they purchased and set up a new bed before her surgery. In addition, the team continued to donate money for groceries that were delivered several times after her surgery along with home-cooked meals. In April 2015, that team member celebrated her sixth cancer-free year.

5

Elevations Credit Union

www.elevationscu.com

Location: Boulder

The culture: Elevations fosters a culture of belonging: To care and provide for one another for the benefit of all.

According to feedback: "We support our employees by listening, communicating and promoting organizational transparency. In return, we ask our employees for a commitment to our core values, to work together as a team and keep members in mind every day. We ask for 100 percent effort with zero excuses, to be flexible, to remember that we work to live, not live to work, and to foster a continuous desire to learn and improve."

Perks: Four weeks of paid vacation a year, plus 11 paid holidays and 16 hours of volunteer time off. Health and wellness benefits include biometric screening, health fairs, flu shots, gym discounts, corporate gardening, race entry discounts and more.

Giving back: In the past year, the company's own Elevations Foundation has provided the community more than $660,000. Within two weeks of the devastating floods in September 2013, Elevations members and communities delivered $390,000 in emergency relief funds for temporary housing. In November 2013, Elevations Foundation was able to provide $63,000 in critical aid to the Longmont Humane Society to keep it open.

The inside scoop: "Recently, an employee's 14-year-old daughter, Bria, died from a severe asthma attack," one team member shared on the ModernThink survey. "Co-workers provided shuttle, meals and lodging services for out-of-town guests to support the family and raised more than $35,000 to create a memorial to support nonprofit organizations that Bria believed in and to support Bria's 'Compassion Child' in Uganda."

by Lisa Ryckman

Where the work is

Want to jump on board at a Best Company to Work For? Many of these companies have openings in Colorado and around the country. Here are a few best bets:

Total Quality

BluSky Restoration

OnDeck

Pulte Mortgage LLC

ReadyTalk

Vi at Highlands Ranch

Encompass Home

KPMG
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Comment:Best companies to work for: senior leaders walk the talk at firms touting work-life balance.
Author:Ryckman, Lisa
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Nov 1, 2015
Words:7251
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