Issue link: http://businessnc.epubxp.com/i/473068
B u s i n e s s n o r t h C a r o l i n a Te state's best employers understand what leadership consultant Mark Crowley means when he says, "Love your people. " Tey provide perks such as fexible hours and ftness programs, on top of traditional benefts. BEST EMPLOYERS I N N O R T H C A R O L I N A company's overall score. For companies with fewer than 25 employees, a response rate of 80% or higher was required. Naomi LeBlanc is a loan-closing man- ager at Wilmington's Live Oak Bank, which was the nation's second-most active SBA lender through the frst quarter of fscal 2015 and ranks at the top of our list for small-to- medium-sized companies. (Live Oak also ranked No. 1 on our inaugural Best Employ- ers list in 2013 but didn't participate in 2014.) While the lender ofers many perks not found in traditional banks, such as an on-site dog park and a "wear what you want" dress code, LeBlanc says the way the company treats its employees is most important. "We are all business, but it's also relaxed. You can feel comfortable talking to everyone, even top-level executives." Springer says the biggest challenge for human-resources professionals is to fgure out what makes their company's workers engaged. Some people are moti- vated because they feel strongly about the company's mission, while others enjoy the camaraderie among co-workers. Tere's no single model that works for every company. Among the benefts that companies on this year's list ofer, fexibility ranks high as one employees value most. At Live Oak, employees are allowed the option to work at home one day a week, or under spe- cial circumstances such as when they are recovering from an illness. Employees can access Salesforce, the cloud-based platform used by the bank's customers, remotely. "We're lucky because everyone is reliable and does what they have to do to get the job done," LeBlanc says. Penn National Insur- ance, based in Harrisburg, Pa., also ofers employees at its Greensboro ofce the ability to work from home, as well as fexible hours and a compressed workweek. Clinical Ink, a Winston-Salem-based research organization making its debut on the list this year, ofers unlimited sick days and the option of work- ing remotely. Many companies — including 89% of the ones on our list — integrate ftness and wellness activities in the ofce environment. Some ofer ftness centers on-site or paid memberships to gyms or the YMCA. Te beneft for companies is twofold: Keeping workers healthy lowers insurance rates and reduces sick days. Employees like it, too. Live Oak has ftness trainers and ofers yoga classes and Pilates instructors at its gym. "Te gym is full all day long," LeBlanc says. Raleigh-based Workplace Options and the Durham ofce of Weatherby Healthcare also ofer yoga classes. Martin Starnes & Associates, a Hickory-based accounting and consulting frm, purchased basketball equipment and encourages its workers to shoot hoops to relieve stress. Hire Networks' employees received Fitbit activity trackers. Te Raleigh-based stafng frm also pro- vides healthy break-room snacks. PCL Civil Constructors, No. 1 on our list of large com- panies for the second consecutive year, pays for fu shots and annual health screenings. During the economic recession, companies had to cut back on some tra- ditional benefts to trim expenses. While they were freezing bonuses and taking away 401(k) matches, companies had to get creative and "show love" with ice cream socials and other inexpensive, fun activities, Springer says. Tese events are still popular. Asheville-based FLS Energy hosts quarterly outings, including bowl- ing and tours of its solar facilities. Martin Starnes hosts monthly events such as Watermelon Wednesday and Ofce Olympics. Charlotte-based Peak 10 hosts barbecues and family fun nights. Companies that promote a fun, family- friendly environment fared well on our list. PCL Civil Constructors promotes a "work hard, play hard" mentality. Te Raleigh- based subsidiary of PCL Construction Enterprises builds bridges and highways and is 100% employee-owned. PCL sponsors annual family picnics, holiday parties and golf tournaments. Te Greensboro ofce of Malibu, Calif.-based Dun & Bradstreet Credibility hosts happy hours for new hires. During the World Cup last summer, Greensboro-based Epes Logistics brought in projectors to stream the games live and ordered pizzas for the staf. Plasticard-Lock- Tech International also hosts game days dur- ing football season, when employees wear jerseys, toss around footballs and compete for prizes at its Asheville headquarters. Traditional benefts still matter, how- ever. Proft sharing, 401(k) matching and generous allowances for paid time of are among the most popular for the companies on this year's list. More than 90% of the top companies match employee contributions to retirement-savings accounts. Dun & Bradstreet also matches employees' con- tributions to 529 college savings plans, and again matches that amount with a donation to the local school district. Many companies on the list — 71% — ofer paid time of for employees to volunteer or participate in community-service activities. Leadership consultant Mark Crowley recently wrote in Fast Company magazine that feeling genuinely supported by others in the workplace drives loyalty and engage- ment. He says it's important to have super- visors that care about employees and aren't solely concerned with their own needs. Dun & Bradstreet exemplifed this when it recently hosted a fundraiser and potluck for an employee facing a serious health issue. What's Crowley's advice to employers? "Love your people."