The Capital Region’s Best Workplaces Share Keys to Ensuring Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction is important for the most successful companies. Disgruntled workers are willing to quit even well-paying jobs, as demonstrated by the so-called “great quit” by workers.

The strains of the pandemic have caused workers to reevaluate their lives and now, perhaps more than ever, some workplaces that are not aligned with what workers want may be scrambling to retain talent and fill jobs.

But what do Top Workplaces have in common other than comprehensive benefits to keep employees happy and engaged in their jobs?

Wit and lots of wit are key to success at three of the region’s best workplaces as they rally to care for workers as ‘whole people’ rather than just employee #18 in cabin #37.

The Center for Internet Security, Sunmark Credit Union, and Warren, Washington, and Albany Counties ARC (WWAARC), all located in the Capital Region, shared their methods for ensuring employee job satisfaction. All three were also named National Top Workplaces this year.

2022 Best Workplaces in the Capital Region

For more than 10 years, Times Union has partnered with Energage to rank the best places to work in the Capital Region. This year, more than 15,500 employees assessed their corporate culture — and the results are in. Discover the winners:

— Large employers: 300 or more employees
— Medium-sized employers: 100 to 299 employees
— Small employers: less than 100 employees
— Special distinctions: highlighting specific survey results

This year’s leadership awards went to Carver Laraway of Carver Cos., Sonny Bonacio of Bonacio Construction and Morgan Ruthman of The Spinney Group.

Learn about the survey methodology.

Each said employees were a top priority and transparency through strong communication was central to their work environment. They have conducted several workplace surveys on a quarterly or regular basis to gauge how employees feel, give them a chance to have their voices heard, and address areas in need of improvement.

Sunmark Human Resources managers hold one-on-one meetings with their staff every two weeks. CIS organizes monthly meetings where managers, including the CEO, report on the situation of the company.

The three companies also said feedback from these ratings and forums was then used to inform policies and implement improvements.

CIS, for example, used data from a pay analysis to obtain a pay equity certification last year and feedback from the majority of employees on another survey has forged a policy regarding the continuation of remote work. said Carolyn Comer, the company’s director of human resources.

“It’s really the team at CIS, the people and the willingness to try new things that I think drives us to be a top-notch place to work,” Comer said.

And at WWARC, executive director Dan Murray said a committee had used the results of a survey to increase the amount of unused vacation an employee bought back. Previously, they could only be compensated for around 40 hours; which has since doubled due to policy changes prompted by the evaluation.

The workplace trio also highlighted the need to foster professional development opportunities. CIS and Sunmark, for example, both offer employees workshops that teach technical, managerial, and soft skills. Sometimes these sessions involve speakers advising them on financial wellness and others on maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

But behind each of these organizations’ more formal approaches, there are others that come out of the workplace to spice things up where flexible working hours are just the start.

CIS has a series of committees that work to bring fun to work-life balance with a variety of “feed our soul” events ranging from Hispanic heritage recipe creation, yoga, painting, charcuterie, baking classes and more to bond with colleagues.

Sunmark has also partnered with a company in Canada to offer employees a variety of virtual courses aimed at helping with employee well-being. Classes, which include Zumba, meditation and other activities, are streamed live and last seven to 45 minutes, which employees can participate in during their breaks or at home.

And while some extracurriculars may take place outside of the office, others are organized internally.

Then, of course, there are the little things that add up, like recognition and awards, explained WWAARC’s Murray.

At the WWAARC offices, the team gives awards to employees who recognize their work, sometimes simply because or as a thank you for all they do.

Paul Kelly, director of human resources at Sunmark, recounted a similar experience. When workers were celebrated for Employee Appreciation Day this month, his team decided to step it up and celebrate his teams for the entire week.

Employees received food and several received prizes, including flat-screen TVs, spa days and an Apple Watch.

Kelly said it’s this kind of support and more that makes people want to work for Sunmark. Although the credit union is a business, it’s not a place where you’ll hear people talking about money, he noted.

“You hear them talking about a great culture and enjoying working with really good people who care about each other,” he said.

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