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Yellow Scene’s Top Companies to Work For

Published on: October 14th, 2011

Working 9 to 5 is so 1980. Full health coverage is an extinct species of benefit that went the way of the phone booth. Well, that’s what we thought. YS went searching for companies that break the modern mold, and these eight prove there are no limits to the perks, benefits and respect a company can give its employees.

Insight Designs

Beth Krodel and Nico Toutenhoofd were in search of the holy grail: the 40-hour work week.

The two former journalists—Krodel was a reporter and Toutenhoofd a photographer—were sick of salaried jobs at newspapers, where they’d work 50, 60, 70 hours a week for the same amount of pay. So in 1999, they opened their own web development and design firm. Now, Insight Designs works with Crocs, eTown and other major players. And all 13 of its employees work a 40-hour work week (or close to it).

“One reason my business partner (Toutenhoofd) and I went into business was that we wanted to create a company that allowed us to have work-life balance,” Krodel says. “…People don’t work 50 hours a week here. Or 45 hours a week. There are exceptions. …But we strive not to have anyone work more than 40 hours.”

One of the company’s guiding principles is to offer a work-life balance to all employees, which translates into flexible scheduling. Ellie Childs works four nine-hour days and works a half-day on Fridays. Carlos Real comes into work early a couple of days a week, so he can leave earlier to coach soccer.

“I’ve been here 7 years,” Childs says. “I can’t even remember the last time I worked more than 40 hours a week. And if you do that, the next week you can come in later.”

All Insight employees are paid hourly as well, so if they do work over time, they are compensated.

On top of flexibility, employees receive a $40-per-month health club membership reimbursement and tuition reimbursement up to $500 per semester up to three semesters a year for classes and ongoing education.

Employees can receive two bonuses a year. The end-of-the-year bonus is based on total company performance. The other is based on achieving what the company calls AABs: above and beyonds, which are annual goals that require staffers to work outside of their day to day. That may mean taking classes or setting up events or writing blogs for the website. They earn a $1,000 bonus for every AAB they achieve, up to five a year.

The office vibe is also conducive to productivity: It’s quiet and laid back with great views of the Flatirons and the smell of waffle cones wafting through the air (Ben & Jerry’s is just steps away from its Pearl Street location).

“What do I like best? It’s the whole thing. It’s the good feeling you get when you walk in,” Real says. “…My weekends are so busy, so when I come into work on Mondays, it feels like a relaxing thing.”

That’s the goal, Krodel says.

“It’s important for people to like what they do and like where they work,” she says. “Working 40 hours a week, vacation time and health club reimbursements make people happier. When you have happy, healthy staff, you will have healthy outcomes. It’s in the best interest for us as bosses.”

The bottom line: 100 percent medical, two to five weeks vacation time plus 10 sick days that they will buy back if you don’t use them, health club reimbursement, annual retreat and parties, 40-hour work week, $500 per/semester tuition reimbursement, wholesale/pro deals, flex time. Number of employees: 13.

This company is now hiring! Check out Insight Designs’ website to see its opening for a PHP programmer.

Natural Habitat Adventures

The coolest thing about working for Natural Habitat Adventures, the Boulder-based nature travel company, is not necessarily the dog-friendly office, the stellar benefits, the on-site gym or the paid-time off for new moms and dads.

It has to be the travel perks.

“It’s more than a job,” says general manager Rick Guthke. “It’s a life pursuit.”

Field employees are often tasked with taking adventure-seekers and nature-lovers to the far reaches of the globe, coming face to face with gorillas in the mist or polar bears perched in the frozen tundra. The company also offers numerous travel incentives for employees, including a two-week site inspection each year (“With a handsome travel budget that covers nearly all expenses,” Guthke says).

The company is a leader in the nature travel and ecotourism industry and has focused on connecting people with the planet’s venerated natural spots. The office environment is “casual but hardworking” Guthke says. It’s dog friendly and there is no dress code. It’s a light-hearted space where the dedicated staff stay diligent. It also includes a state-of the-art health center on site that employees can use any time for free, including yoga and Pilates classes. The fitness center has a professional trainer on hand for small group training sessions.

Natural Habitat Adventures has a subsidized organic cafeteria and provides company ski passes, which employees can sign up for and use at anytime—“even on heavy snow days during the week if their work is covered.”

And the company owns a boat at Boulder Reservoir for the company-organized Summerfest; Winterfest entails taking a chartered bus up to the mountains for all-day skiing, with dinner out and bar-hopping on the drive home.

The bottom line: great benefits, three weeks vacation plus two-week, all-expenses-paid site inspection, in-house gym, organic cafeteria, ski passes, Summerfest and Winterfest, 120-hours a year of professional development. Number of employees: About 36. Check out Natural Habitat’s website!

Training Peaks

Imagine a world without hunger, where nobody misses a workout, dog walk or goes without gear.

At Training Peaks not only do employees have access to organic, fresh produce, a stocked kitchen and freezer, a full gym with showers, endurance training software, flexible scheduling and bike storage, the company also tosses them $600 a year for “health tools” of their choice.

“The company believes in investing in its people,” said communications manager Tia Mattson. “If we have the right talent pool and the right culture, then we have a long-term employee.”

To keep them healthy long-term, Training Peaks pays medical premiums and funds a $2,400 health savings account for each employee annually. And, of course, allows dog therapy in-office.

Training Peaks pays coaches, hosts visits by world-class athletes and helps employees obtain coaching certifications, attend conferences and expand their professional education. Then they launch a monthly software update and gorge on barbecue (which could be why they keep the dress code so casual and the work-out load heavy).

The bottom line: 100 percent medical, company funded HSA contribution at $2,400 per employee, 401k, flex time, generous PTO (three weeks), free organic food and group exercise all day with a side of work…for people who workout and eat well all day. Number of employees: 29

This company is now hiring! Check out Training Peaks’ website!

Imulus

When the three founders of Imulus, a web-development agency based in Boulder, started their company, they did not want to create a business that was susceptible to the economy. So, over the last nine years, they’ve built a “war chest of funds for a rainy day,” says co-founder and client services director George Morris. That has allowed Imulus to pick and choose the projects it wants and the clients it likes. And that trickles down to the employees, who then have the opportunity to work on fun, interesting, diverse projects.

“Basically, they don’t have to work on projects that suck,” Morris says with a chuckle. “If we were cash strapped, we would go after projects that are not ideal. So then, the team wouldn’t be enthusiastic. Our guys are doing a quality job, and they don’t have to sacrifice their standards.”

Of course, the work is just one perk here. Employees are treated as adults at Imulus. They are given respect as soon as they walk in the door, and they are offered support to make sure they succeed at the company.

“We want an environment that encourages your best work. We want to have a workplace where employees feel challenged,” Morris said. “We are a team. If we do things together as a team, we are not a bunch of individuals trying to get a job done.”

That means Xbox in the conference room, beer in the fridge, free Netflix and fencing uniforms and swords for the occasional duel (we are not joking). The company provides breakfast on Mondays and lunch on Fridays and often takes staffers out for a little fun: to  batting cages or even go-cart racing.

“We once used a printer as a piñata and played the music from Office Space in the background,” Morris said. “Recently, we took the whole office out to Dacono and rode go-carts around. We like to break up the routine.”

The bottom line: 100 percent medical paid, one month of vacation time plus two weeks of sick leave, Eco Pass, great leadership, free Netflix and beer, workshops and conferences on a regular basis, breakfast on Mondays and lunch every Fridays. Number of employees: 13

This company is now hiring! Check out Imulus’ website to see its opening for a front-end web developer.

Edward Jones

Just because a company is a ginormous national brand does not mean it’s inaccessible. Edward Jones has garnered props for being a killer employer from numerous organizations and publications over the years, and it’s because the company puts a strong focus on resources and autonomy.

“What it comes down to is that I own my own office. I have independence but have the support of a major firm,” says Bill DeWandeler, financial adviser at his Boulder office

The company is also employee-owned—and not publicly traded. There are just two employees in DeWandeler’s office, so it feels like a “mom and pop” shop, not a faceless megacorp.

“It doesn’t feel like a corporation,” he says. “The real value comes for the client. It’s not a call center. They call and they talk to one of us.”

The bottom line: Full medical with optional dental and vision plans, 401k, profit sharing and quarterly bonuses, community involvement and volunteerism, comprehensive web-based training program, flexible scheduling hours. Number of employees: 39,000 nationally. Check out Edward Jones’ website!

Trada

Sprawled out in the office-less expanse of the old Daily Camera building, Trada encourages collaboration, honesty and, most importantly, employees who take what Trada dishes out.

Trada knows micromanaging went out in the ’90s, and treats its employees like adults in scheduling, vacation and finding that perfect work/life balance by not limiting time off or guilting employees who take it.

“(Days off) shouldn’t be something where they’re nickel and dimed on the amount of time they can take off,” said Elaine Ellis, social media and marketing manager.

Employees pay $1 a month for a membership to One Boulder Fitness, can buy into the company’s equity program and enjoy full health and dental coverage for themselves and their dependents. They participate team build at events such as the Pike’s Peak marathon and on company sports teams. Dogs come to work, and sometimes work happens at home.

“It’s very counterproductive to have an employees work hard and not give them flexibility when they need it,” she said. “Not having a micromanaging culture requires hiring people that take pride in their work.

The bottom line: Butts in seats matter far less than butts that get work done. This company encourages employees to take advantage of every available benefit. Number of employees: 85.

This company is now hiring! Check out its website!

New Hope Natural Media

Administrative stressors can kill, but whether it’s medical costs, adoption fees or traffic ticket defense, New Hope Natural Media employees need worry not. This company’s got them covered.

New Hope’s list of standard benefits, of which most companies offer less than a handful, is disgustingly long and puts just about every company in the history of man to shame. Toss in a dog-friendly workspace, an on-site yoga instructor, discounts at Sprouts and One Boulder Fitness and flexible schedules that knock retention through the roof, and it’s obvious why New Hope is a winner.

“When people leave here…they always come back,” said human resources manager Donna Layton. “…The word is out. They want to work here because they know it’s such a friendly, inviting atmosphere. …Who we are is the passion that lives inside the walls here.”

Employees train in their fields, chow down at bi-monthly company breakfasts with motivational speakers and relax together on company time at the Lazy Dog every now and then.

The bottom line: Three medical plans, domestic partner coverage, vision, dental, life insurance, flex spending for health and dependent care and health savings account, Eco Pass, discounts at fitness centers, on cell phone service, when buying a new car and at the grocery store. Number of employees: 133.

This company is now hiring! Check out its website!

Namaste Solar

When more than half of a company’s employees share in its ownership, the culture changes. Fun committees form, secret pranks pop up and initiative takes a front seat.

But for Namaste Solar, initiative and innovation can’t begin to describe the company’s doggy playground, new-family support system (think friends who pay the diaper service and cook dinner for a month) or the company’s adeptness at conflict resolution.

“As co-owners, we’re empowered to come up with creative fixes, some are money-making or business oriented, and some are just pure joy,” said Heather Leanne Nangle, director of marketing, communications and social responsibility. “That ability to have the freedom to do that kind of stuff is what keeps us all really engaged and involved.”

Ever want to tell the boss now just isn’t a good time? This company’s patented Frank, Open and Honest communication plan allows just that.

When conflicts can’t be resolved without a third party, the Harmony Committee steps in and saves the day and the relationship.

“It’s a vibrant culture with a lot of unique, strong personalities,” she said. “We say we only hire rock stars. We try to hire people who are very self-motivated, happy individuals.”

So the company pushes hard for balance everywhere, with a full, on-site fitness center, family and company events and an innovation lab to keep everyone involved and feeling valued.

The bottom line: This sunshine-filled company cares about its family. Co-owners get: health, dental, life, accidental death and dismemberment, short-term medical leave, long-term disability insurance, 30 days PTO. Number of employees: 67

This company is now hiring! Check out its website!

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  1. […] ran downstairs not knowing what to expect. He handed me a copy of this month’s Yellow Scene Magazine with the cover “8 Best Places to Work.” I flipped inside and saw that Insight Designs […]

    • With all due respect, New Hope has great benefits and yes dogs are allowed to join their owners at work, however, it has dramatically changed over the years. It used to be wonderful and yes, there were “re-treads” that came back after leaving. When it was truly “New Hope” it was amazing. Since Penton took over it went downhill and as of late, dreadfully so. The ones that return now are likely desperate for work. New Hope used to care about its customers, however, its all about the bottom line now. Countless employees have been laid off, or their positions have been “restructured”. Over 200 employees in the past 3 years have been laid off, seriously? But hey, they are hiring!

  2. […] Yellow Scene Magazine – Yellow Scene's Top Companies to Work For […]

  3. 201 as of yesterday! Almost everyone who works at New Hope (also called “No Hope”) is looking for another job. Better cross the other “top companies” off their lists. Looks like Yellow Scene just had a space to fill for a friend.

  4. Hourly pay is, in my opinion a much better as an incentive for overall company productivity. It motivates workers to put their best effort into their job and get rewarded for going beyond the statuesque instead of ignored. I work for a web development company and definitely think I deserve compensation for putting in more time than other workers. 😉

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