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Proud of Where You Work? Nominations Open For The Courant’s Top Workplaces Competition


Clarus Commerce CEO Tom Caporaso comments the open and transparent culture we have at Clarus Commerce as The Hartford Courant starts accepting nominations for its annual Top Workplaces survey

(As originally published on The Hartford Courant on February 12th, 2018.)

You can wake up on a weekday without a shudder. The days that span Sunday to Saturday are not just bearable, but enjoyable. You are proud to tell people where you work.

If these things are true — if you believe you work in a place that is ethical, bold, rewarding or well-managed — The Courant is accepting nominations for its annual Top Workplaces survey until March 16. Any workplace — for-profit, nonprofit, public or private — is eligible, as long as it is located in Hartford, Middlesex, New London, Tolland or Windham counties and has 50 or more employees.

Last year’s winners included companies as large as Stanley Black & Decker, and as small as 68-person Emergency Resource Management; they included universities, casinos, charities and supermarkets. Ultimately, it was some combination of management style, work-life balance, amenities and an openness to new ideas that elevated last year’s top-60 workplaces from among the hundreds of nominees.

Emergency Resource Management, a Portland-based agency that supplies Connecticut ambulances with EMTs and paramedics, scored the second-highest ranking in the small business category. Employees of the small outfit seemed to find meaning in their work — of the 863 nominated workplaces, Emergency Resource Management scored the highest on a survey question that asked employees if they felt “part of something meaningful.”

“It’s not like we have free hot dogs every Friday to make people feel nice,” said Robert Ziegler, the company’s principal owner. “This is a low-paying job; people work long hours and work multiple jobs. I think a lot of the meaning for our employees comes from the care we provide and the feedback we get from patients and their families.”

This year, as in years past, The Courant is partnering with Energage, a research firm that has conducted Top Workplaces surveys for scores of major metropolitan newspapers. The confidential questionnaires gauge the material nature of a job — benefits, amenities, time off — along with less tangible qualities. Last year’s survey asked whether employees felt their workplace acted ethically, was open to their ideas and communicated well, among other questions.

Employees of Reliance Health, a Norwich nonprofit mental health provider, responded most favorably to a question that asked if their workplace was “headed in the right direction.”

“Treat people like they’re trustworthy, hardworking, creative, and you know, a funny thing happens — turns out they are,” said David Burnett, Reliance Health’s CEO and its first employee, dating back to 1978. “We don’t get into the ‘We, they,’ stuff here — the, ‘I’m a chief executive, they’re the employees.’ We don’t get on different pages.”

Clarus Commerce, a Rocky Hill company that manages loyalty programs for online retailers, was recognized for listening to its employees’ ideas.

“We encourage people to speak up when they see something or have a new way of thinking about a problem,” said Tom Caporaso, Clarus’ CEO. “We’ll get it up on a white board and give it a shot.” Caporaso, who manages about 90 employees, said Clarus’ wide-open workspace speaks to the company’s horizontal ethos.

“We’re very open and transparent — our workplace is open, and no one’s in an office,” he said.

Once nominated, a workplace can choose to be surveyed; last year, 16,073 employees at 93 Hartford-area companies, organizations and agencies filled out questionnaires. Energage’s surveys are short — 24 questions — and confidential.

Only the top-60 workplaces will be recognized by The Courant in September, but all companies that participate will receive useful feedback from their employees.

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