To find out, Newsday had the consulting and research firm Energage anonymously poll more than 24,000 employees at 116 LI employers, on everything from pay and benefits to leadership and culture.
What stood out as a hallmark of a top workplace?An engaging workplace culture.
Engaging cultures keep workers motivated – they lead to stronger retention, higher productivity and better performance. Overall, of the 24,000-plus respondents:
72% said their company enables them to work at their full potential and
71% feel genuinely appreciated by their company but
47% find their pay fair for the work they do and
31% said their benefits package is acceptable.
After analyzing all the results of the 116 companies that participated in the survey, Newsday and Energage have selected 74 as top Long Island workplaces and we are proud to spotlight the winners in each category, along with a look at what their employees had to say, islandwide trends, and much more.
500+ Long Island workers
TOP LARGE EMPLOYER BETHPAGE FEDERAL CREDIT UNION
Employee input brings clubs, puppies to credit union
Bethpage's "Bright Ideas" employee suggestion portal produced an idea that led to a visit by multiple animal shelters at the company's headquarters, where every dog there was adopted by staffers, and 674 pounds of pet food was collected and donated.
When David Lay, a digital products support specialist at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, had a proposal that he thought would help Long Island's homeless dogs find a place to live, he sent the pitch to the credit union's "Bright Ideas" portal.
The portal is where Bethpage's 700 employees send in thoughts read by top executives.
His idea led to a visit by multiple animal shelters at headquarters in June, where every dog there was fostered or adopted by staffers and members, and 674 pounds of pet food was collected and donated to Island Harvest.
Lay said the portal shows the company listens to its employees, which drives engagement. Engagement with the workplace was a key reason why its rank-and-file workers, in an anonymous survey, ranked Bethpage the top workplace on Long Island with at least 500 employees.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for animals because they don’t have a voice,” Lay said. “So I sent a note, pitching the idea of having a food drive for animals, and helping dogs in shelters. It's great they go through the ideas.”
Lay said he motivated to come up with a pet-friendly version of Bethpage Federal Credit Union's popular turkey drive it has held each November for a decade. Next month it hopes to collect more than 2,000 turkeys at its headquarters on South Oyster Bay Road. The Bethpage-based company will also bring in $5,000 and another 9,000 pounds of nonperishable food, all of which will be donated through Island Harvest to help 2,300 families have a Thanksgiving meal. The credit union will publicize the drive in newspapers, websites, and television and radio stations.
All employees, including top executives, participate in the turkey drive, the pet adoption event and other company events, said Wayne Grosse, chief executive at Bethpage.
“We try to set an example by listening and by being accessible, and that trickles down throughout the company," Grosse said. “I try to visit a branch each month, and sometimes I just sit there and talk to customers, because they have no idea who I am. And I like that they have no idea.”
The company’s high marks in engagement come from fostering clubs that bring together employees who otherwise wouldn’t know each other. The groups range from bowling, softball and basketball clubs — the basketball team won its league, and the trophy sits in the middle of the Bethpage office — to reading and running clubs. The running club takes a trip to Washington, D.C., annually to participate in the Cherry Blossom 10K.
The company’s benefits, and overall work environment, also rank high in why survey takers were bullish on working at Bethpage. The company’s employees repeatedly noted Bethpage’s ability to manage work-life balance.
“Depending on the job, we want people to work from home, and we don’t feel enough people take advantage of it,” Grosse said. “There was a day where my assistant was rapidly responding to emails all day, and I went over to talk to her, but her office was dark. I didn’t realize she was working from home. She was every bit as productive, maybe more so.”
The work-life balance focus rolls down to the branches too, said Maria Zahn, the branch manager for Bethpage in West Babylon.
“People have sick kids or parents, and when they do we don’t put pressure on them, we don’t ask questions,” Zahn said. “At a lot of places, calling in sick fills you with dread.”
Work-life balance benefits don’t always connect with employees, said Comila Shahani-Denning, professor of psychology at Hofstra University.
“It always depends on your employee pool, and that’s why it’s important to go to your employees and see what they value,” she said. “You want to be strategic about what you’re offering, or it’s not going to be effective.
Bethpage conducts two employee opinion surveys annually, and collects feedback through other surveys as well, said Melissa Feeney, vice president of human resources and learning at Bethpage.
The credit union’s benefits include a 401(k) plan in which an employee’s first 3 percent contribution earns a 200 percent match, and the next four percent gets a 100 percent match from Bethpage.
“The money adds up fast," said Linda Armyn, a senior vice president of corporate affairs at Bethpage. "You’re vested after one year, so it keeps people interested, as do the other benefits, and the engagement.”
“We have so many young people paying off college tuition or trying to start a family,” she added.
Bethpage also offers tuition, gym and weight-loss program reimbursement, as well as a free vacation day per year added on to whatever accrued time an employee has earned. The company's policies “help attract employees and help retain employees,” Armyn said.
Forty-five staffers — about 9 percent of the workforce — are celebrating five years with the company, despite its recent growth in size. Another 28 complete their 10th year in 2018. Bethpage is the largest credit union based on Long Island with $8 billion in assets and 35 branches. It's grown its assets in each of the last five years. It had $5.4 billion in assets in 2013 and $6.9 billion in 2016.
Organic growth has spurred most of Bethpage's asset increase, and the credit union also has made acquisitions in recent years.
Bethpage Federal Credit Union acquired Northwell Health's credit union last year. The Northwell credit union had 17,000 members and $100 million in assets.
Bethpage in March 2016 also took over Montauk Credit Union, a one-branch institution based in Manhattan. Montauk was a big lender to taxi-medallion owners.
- David Reich-Hale
TOP LARGE EMPLOYER SIGNATURE PREMIER PROPERTIES
Real estate agency is 'a happy place'
The brokerage allows staff and agents alike to work flexible hours to care for children or ailing family members, and the offices close early before holidays and on Sunday afternoons in the summer.
Real estate broker Donna Spinoso-Gelb remembers seeing a sudden flurry of for-sale signs bearing the name of Signature Premier Properties in 2011.
“I said, ‘Wow, they must be doing something right, I see all these signs popping up,’” Spinoso-Gelb recalled. She soon joined what was then a small company with about 70 agents.
“It’s a happy place,” said Spinoso-Gelb, an associate broker and director of creative development at Signature Premier, which now has a workforce of more than 900 people, including agents, brokers and staff members. “I like being motivated, I like being challenged, and that’s what we have here. Our culture is really special.”
The East Northport-based brokerage’s emphasis on work-life balance, its support and training for agents and its collaborative culture secured it the No. 2 spot on the list of Long Island’s Top Workplaces among companies with 500 or more employees. The brokerage also won an award from Exton, Pennsylvania research firm Energage for its employees’ strong agreement with the statement “I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life.”
In a response to the survey, one employee wrote that the brokerage supports “balance of family time, work and play. They are all about family first — rare and so appreciated.”
The brokerage allows staff and agents alike to work flexible hours to care for children or ailing family members, and the offices close early before holidays and on Sunday afternoons in the summer, Spinoso-Gelb said. "There's a lot of camaraderie, so if I'm going on vacation, I can say to someone, 'Can you handle my book of business?' and I know that it's going to be handled properly," said Spinoso-Gelb, who has two sons, ages 22 and 19. "I've never felt there was any conflict with my home life interfering with my work life."
Signature Premier holds annual three-day trips to Montauk, as well as trips to the Caribbean every two years. For those trips, top-selling agents can attend for free, but everyone is welcome to buy in, Spinoso-Gelb said.
The brokerage also offers family fun days, bring-your-child-to-work days, fishing trips and other gatherings where those based at its 17 offices can come together and get to know each other better, Spinoso-Gelb said. It maintains a monthly calendar of training sessions where agents can hone their technological skills or learn to write a compelling bio. The brokerage also sponsors weekly walks and annual drives to collect coats, food and toys and supports veterans’ groups and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, among other charities.
The emphasis on helping others extends to day-to-day life at the brokerage, Spinoso-Gelb said. If someone at one office is especially skilled at market analysis or technology, that person will help people in other offices, she said. “That’s really what makes it work so well, we’re not competing, we’re really a team,” she said.
The brokerage has kept its “mom and pop mentality” even as it has grown, said Kathy Kirby-Viard, co-owner of the brokerage along with business partner Peter Morris, who founded it in 2007. It has thrived by emphasizing teamwork, community service and learning, she said.
“It’s really important for people to feel like they’re part of something larger than themselves,” Kirby-Viard said. “By educating and training our agents, we position them to be the best we can be.”
- Maura McDermott
TOP LARGE EMPLOYER Suffolk Transportation SERVICE INC.
Suffolk bus company workers say everyone feels like family
Suffolk Transportation pays about $20 to $26 an hour and offers health benefits, matching retirement plan contributions and other perks, including annual barbecues, gifts and holiday bonuses.
Snow was coming down hard on the afternoon of March 12, and Olga Quezada had two more preschool children to deliver safely to their homes.
At the height of a nor’easter, Suffolk Transportation Service Inc. driver Quezada was steering her school bus north on Route 112 in Farmingville when it became stuck in the snow. She radioed for help, but with cars all around her also immobilized, she knew it wouldn’t come quickly.
So it was a relief when she saw a motorist pull over and hop out, wearing Suffolk Transportation’s familiar baby-blue uniform shirt. “Are you okay? How can I help?” Quezada, 50, recalled colleague Susan Gilmore asking.
That’s just how people are at the 63-year-old bus company, Quezada said.
“I love it because it’s family, you’re never feeling alone,” said Quezada, who has three grown sons and a grandson.
Sentiments like that earned Suffolk Transportation the No. 3 spot on the list of Long Island's Top Workplaces among companies with 500 or more employees.
Quezada and her assistant, Sonia Campos, 47, played children’s songs on a CD player and used their phones to call the children’s homes, reassuring parents everyone was fine, despite storm delays that turned the trip into a more than 4 1/2-hour ordeal. “I put on music, and they were happy,” Quezada recalled. Gilmore, who had been on her way home, spared an hour and a half to help them.
“It’s a great place to work – people are very friendly, people care,” said Teresa O’Halloran, executive director of human resources, risk management and safety/training for the Bay Shore-based company, which has 2,500 workers in eight locations and operates buses for 29 districts and agencies serving schoolchildren and people with special needs, as well as Suffolk County mass transit buses. “Forty percent of our employees came as referrals from the existing workforce. That bodes well, people saying ‘it’s a great company, come work here.’ ”
Suffolk Transportation pays about $20 to $26 an hour and offers health benefits, matching retirement plan contributions and other perks, including annual barbecues, gifts and holiday bonuses, O’Halloran said.
The company’s president, John J. Corrado, took over from his father, John A. Corrado, who purchased it in 1970.
Suffolk Transportation's “culture of caring and mutual respect for our employees...is an affirmation of the unyielding commitment to excellence which was handed down to me by my grandparents who started in this industry as bus drivers in 1922," said Corrado, 54.
The company earned an award from Exton, Pennsylvania, research firm Energage for its employees’ strong agreement with the statement “I get the formal training I want for my career.”
Driver Diana Krygier, 46, said that training helped keep her and her students safe in a crisis.
One day Krygier had just picked up some ninth-graders in Brentwood when she saw a man inching a little too close to the bus. She started to close the doors, but the man lunged in and refused to leave.
“All I felt was, ‘These are my children and they need to be safe, that’s my job,’” she recalled.
She radioed to tell the dispatcher to call 911, honked her horn to get the attention of nearby parents and ordered the students to leave the bus by the emergency doors, moments before the man charged down the aisle.
Krygier and a boy who insisted on staying with her kept the situation under control until police arrived and took the man into custody. Krygier said the company’s periodic training sessions helped her stay calm and act quickly to protect her charges.
Being a school bus driver “really isn’t just driving from point A to point B,” said Krygier, a mother of four. “It’s about forming a relationship, that you’re not a friend, you are the adult, you’re somebody they’re supposed to respect.”
The company’s culture helps too, she said.
“The majority of the supervisors have been bus drivers before, so they know what it’s like to be out there on the road,” she said. “They want us to know that they appreciate what we do and how hard we work.”
- Maura McDermott
Catholic Health Services of Long Island “I admire working among staff that are so sensitive to my religious needs and those of their patients.”
CA Technologies “We’re working on cool stuff and I feel like I can fulfill my potential.”
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory “I get to learn new science all the time.”
Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Inc. (behavioral health) “I enjoy helping others who can’t always help themselves.”
Marchon Eyewear Inc. “I love my job because there’s a lot of thinking.”
Riverhead Building Supply Corp. “Anything I learn here I can use outside of work in my personal life.”
Stony Brook Southampton Hospital “There is nothing better than saving a life, very rewarding.”
William Floyd School District “Students and teachers become not only lifelong learners but lifelong friends.”
|Rank||Employer||Founded||Ownership||Sector||Headquarters||HQ state||LI locations||LI employees|
|1||Bethpage Federal Credit Union||1941||Cooperative/Mutual||Credit unions||Bethpage||NY||35||688|
|2||Signature Premier Properties||2007||Private||Real estate||East Northport||NY||17||771|
|3||Suffolk Transportation Service / Suffolk Bus Corp.||1953||Private||Transportation||Bay Shore||NY||8||2,577|
|4||Riverhead Building Supply Corp.||1948||Private||Building supply||Calverton||NY||14||537|
|5||Family Service League||1926||Non-profit||Social services||Huntington||NY||21||752|
|6||CA Technologies||1976||Public||Software||New York||NY||1||1,032|
|7||William Floyd School District||1833||Public||Education||Mastic Beach||NY||1||1,364|
|8||Catholic Health Services of Long Island||1997||Non-profit||Health||Rockville Centre||NY||13||15,000|
|9||Stony Brook Southampton Hospital||1909||Non-profit||Health||Southampton||NY||1||1,163|
|10||Zebra Technologies Corp.||1969||Public||Technology||Lincolnshire||IL||2||913|
|11||Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory||1890||Non-profit||Research||Cold Spring Harbor||NY||4||1,100|
|12||Zwanger-Pesiri Radiology Group LLP||1953||Private||Radiology imaging||Lindenhurst||NY||23||1,226|
|13||NYU Winthrop Hospital||1896||Non-profit||Health||Mineola||NY||80||7,409|
|15||Family Residences and Essential Enterprises Inc.||1977||Non-profit||Behavioral health||Old Bethpage||NY||195||1,677|
150-499 Long Island workers
TOP MIDSIZE EMPLOYER COUNTRY LIFE
Employees feel their voices count at vitamin maker
The company's culture and strong leadership have contributed to a low turnover rate, with the average employee age being 47 and the average tenure being seven years.
From top managers to entry-level workers, Country Life welcomes all of its employees' voices, several said.
Those kinds of sentiments led the Hauppauge-based seller of vitamins, health supplements and body-care products to be ranked first among mid-sized employers in Newsday's 2018 Top Workplaces, a position determined by anonymous employee surveys. The surveys were conducted by Exton, Pennsylvania, research firm Energage.
“This is like a family company. It’s a good place to grow … You can learn anything that you want,” said Angelica Hidalgo, a quality assurance inspector who has been at Country Life for a little more than a year.
Managers listen to her ideas and encourage employees to learn all aspects of the production process, she said.
Founded in 1971, the private company makes 550 products, including Country Life vitamins, BioChem whey protein powder and Desert Essence natural personal-care products, such as shampoo, toothpaste and lip balm.
Its products are sold in Whole Foods, The Vitamin Shoppe, Kroger, Trader Joe's and other stores.
Last year's sales were $75 million.
Country Life has 235 employees, including 190 on Long Island, most of whom are at the 93,159-square-foot corporate office, headquarters and manufacturing facility on Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, said Kim Latini, Country Life’s human resources manager. Fewer than 20 are at a 43,315-square-foot distribution center on Corporate Drive.
The rest of the employees are national sales team members in Texas, Florida and other states who are based in their homes, Latini said.
Since 2006, Country Life has been owned by Kikkoman Corp., the Japanese company that makes soy sauce.
Harvard University graduate Wendy Lucas, who became Country Life’s president in July 2017, is the first woman to lead a Kikkoman company.
The parent company moved deliberately to not disturb Country Life’s culture when it promoted its president from within instead of bringing someone in from the outside, Latini said.
Lucas was general manager and chief sales and marketing officer for about three years before taking the helm of Country Life. Prior to that she was a general manager for Desert Essence.
“I think it’s a great company to work for. We believe in integrity. We believe in treating everyone equally,” Lucas said.
One of Country Life’s biggest assets can also be a challenge: Its workforce is diverse in age and backgrounds, so making sure everyone’s voice is heard can be daunting, she said.
“But I also think that’s what makes us a great company,” she said.
In 2008 women accounted for about 20 percent of Country Life’s leadership positions. Now they account for 50 percent.
In response to a Top Workplaces survey question on what workers liked most about their jobs, Country Life employees commented on the benefits, collaborative atmosphere and flexible scheduling, among other things. Some of the responses:
- “Team work. Good team. ... (I) feel really good working with everybody. The time is perfect for me 5-9.”
- “Everyone is friendly and I feel engaged."
- “The benefits that the company offers are pretty good."
Country Life’s benefits package includes health, dental and vision insurance; company-paid life insurance equivalent to one year of salary; 100-percent-paid long-term disability; a 401(k) with a company match of 25 percent for up to 6 percent of an employee's salary; and 10 vacation days, five paid leave days for sick and personal time, and two floating holidays for the first year of employment, Latini said.
“What I always tell people during the interview process is that the company, although it was family-owned at one time, it’s held on to the good things about working for a smaller, family-owned company,” she said.
The company’s culture and strong leadership also have contributed to a low turnover rate, Latini said. The average employee age is 47, and the average tenure is seven years, she said.
Packaging associate Rood Papillon, 65, of Brooklyn, is Country Life’s longest-employed worker — 32 years.
“And I like it because it’s a safe environment, safe place to work. The officers are respectful to all employees,” Papillon said.
He cited as an example Sherif Amin, director of production and engineering, who suggested that workers use positive communication methods as a way to prevent employee conflicts.
- Tory N. Parrish
TOP MIDSIZE EMPLOYER POSILLICO INC.
Construction firm focuses on employee development
The private company holds a companywide meeting twice a year to discuss financials, upcoming initiatives, goals and hurdles.
For Farmingdale-based heavy construction firm Posillico Inc., a focus on employee development and a little outside help have enabled the company to grow over the last 14 years.
The family business, formally J.D. Posillico Inc., was started in 1946 as a small trucking contractor. Soon after its founding, the firm moved into light construction work, began landing larger projects and eventually opened its own asphalt plant in the late '60s.
The company, which now has 175 salaried employees and around $300 million in annual revenue, works on some of the tristate area’s largest and most complex infrastructure contracts, repairing roads, bridges and tunnels, and doing environmental remediation.
A survey of Posillico’s employees, conducted for Newsday by Energage, an Exton, Pennsylvania, research firm, ranked the company at the No. 2 spot among midsize employers in Long Island's Top Workplaces.
Joseph K. Posillico, chief executive and president of Posillico, and a member of the third generation of the family to run the company , said when he joined the firm after six years at Exxon, it was doing well but had a very hands-on management style.
“It was just a family business with basically one person running almost everything and somewhat micromanaging, but effective,” Posillico said.
After the death of his uncle, Joseph D. Posillico, Jr., Posillico became president of the firm in 2004 and brought in outside consultants to plan the firm's future and add more structure to the business. The company delegated many of the chief executive's responsibilities.
The company found that managers and supervisors felt more empowered to take responsibility and be more involved in the company’s future, Posillico said. Ultimately, it’s been good for business.
“Myself and my partners are open about the fact that the more we can focus on the big-picture items, the better,” he said.
Thomas Farina, a project manager who splits his time between the office and the field, said that taking ownership of decisions is freeing.
“There’s definitely the freedom to make your own judgement calls,” said Farina, who has been with the company for 11 years. “At the end of the day, I’m the one responsible for what happens.”
The private company holds a companywide meeting twice a year to discuss financials, upcoming initiatives, goals and hurdles.
“I think all the employees appreciate that,” Farina said. "It’s important to morale.”
Posillico has instituted an array of employee development programs, such as education reimbursement and a nine-month mentor program, which seeks to identify promising employees, expose them to all facets of the business and foster relationships between them and upper management.
One past participant is Michael LaRose, a project superintendent.
“Having that support of everybody here guides you to the direction that you see fit for yourself,” said LaRose, who started working at Posillico as an intern in 2011 and landed a full-time position the following year. “There’s more than enough room for improvement and room for growth in the company,”
Other initiatives include its annual project of the year award, company picnics, a charitable-giving employee-match program, and a “buddy” program, which pairs new hires with more tenured employees to help with transitioning to life at the firm.
Despite the company’s growth — the company has doubled in size from about 85 employees in 2010 — many on the workplace survey wrote that the company retains a caring, family business atmosphere that values and relies on employee contribution.
“They value your ideas and they value their employees,” said Janine D’Eredita, an accounts receivable administrator who started at the company two-and-a-half years ago. “No matter what you do, they listen to what you say.”
For D’Eredita, who worked for a smaller aerospace company for 15 years prior to her time at Posillico, the decision to apply was the right choice.
“I wish 20 years ago I would have started working here,” she said.
- Victor Ocasio
TOP MIDSIZE EMPLOYER BNB BANK
Bank balances growth and a small-business culture
BNB, which has nearly 500 full- and part-time employees and 38 branches, is embracing technological changes and managing concerns over security all while holding onto a corporate culture that keeps talented employees in its ranks.
Bridgehampton-based BNB Bank, a 108-year-old financial institution, seeks to strike a balance between growth and a small-business corporate culture.
BNB, which has nearly 500 full- and part-time employees and 38 branches, is embracing technological changes in the ways customers prefer to bank and managing increasing concerns over security all while holding onto a corporate culture that keeps talented employees in its ranks.
A survey of its employees, conducted for Newsday by Exton, Pennsylvania, research firm Energage, ranked BNB at the No. 3 spot among midsize employers in Long Island's Top Workplaces.
Kevin O’Connor, chief executive and president of parent company Bridge Bancorp, said when he joined the firm as president in 2007 at the start of the nation's economic crisis, the financial world was falling apart. Many employees of competitors were worried about their futures, he said.
“We had a lot of banks in trouble, and a lot of bankers were frustrated and scared about where their career was going to go,” said O’Connor, who previously worked at North Fork Bank before its sale to Capital One in 2006. “We were sort of the spot where they could join. So we took what was a dozen branches and $600 million to [nearly] 40 branches today and $4.5 billion in size by basically bringing in talented bankers.”
Many BNB employees responding to the workplace survey said there were growth opportunities within the company and BNB focuses on recognizing talent.
For Vaughn Henry, a recently promoted credit manager at the firm, BNB’s insistence on promoting from within was the selling point that brought him from his prior banking job.
“Where I was previously I guess the advancement came to a standstill,” said Henry, who’s worked in banking for 15 years. “I wanted to advance my career further, and I saw BNB as an opportunity . . . but I didn’t know that the company would align its corporate goals with my personal goals.”
The company has placed a focus on keeping employees at the firm by offering a job shadowing program, an internal job fair, and in-house training for those looking to beef up their skill set, company officials said.
“The employees that we have — we’ve made a big effort to bring them in," O'Connor said. "Once they ’re here and they’ve done a nice job for you, you want to figure a way to keep them here.”
The company works to identify employees with aspirations for advancement starting at the branch level.
Joe Orlando, branch manager of BNB's Wading River location, started his banking career at age 17 as a teller for North Fork and subsequently Capital One. Orlando eventually became a customer service representative for a branch before his position was eliminated as the bank cut staff. He applied — at the suggestion of former colleagues — to work at BNB.
"The culture here was very different," said Orlando, who started working for BNB in 2011 as a customer service representative. He said he quickly was given the "impression that this company actually cares about its employees."
After a year on the job, Orlando was promoted to assistant branch manager, and two years later he was promoted to branch manager on Shelter Island.
While BNB’s growth has been mostly organic, the company has completed three acquisitions over the last decade. It was the company’s $140 million purchase of Community National Bank in 2015 that brought Eileen O'Brien into BNB’s ranks.
“Anytime you’re acquired you’re a little nervous,” said O'Brien, a senior-level banker with more than 30 years’ experience and who has been through four acquisitions in her career. "It’s the nature of banking.“
Immediately after starting at BNB, O'Brien said, she was struck by the firm's warm and welcoming atmosphere, and the "very hands-off management style."
"They’ve got confidence in their employees," she said. "When you give someone autonomy you make them feel valued."
- Victor Ocasio
AgeWell New York “I like to help other people, especially the elderly … so they can stay healthy and enjoy their life in the community.”
H2M Architects + Engineers “I learn new things and am in a position where I can pass that knowledge along and my coworkers truly appreciate that.”
IPRO “I am doing something with real impact on the health care outcomes of people.”
Life’s WORC “I love my job because it allows me to be part of an environment that supports people with disabilities.”
MSC Industrial Direct Co. “This company is committed to integrity and doing business the right way, not the easy way.”
Options for Community Living Inc. “My job helps support the well-being of individuals who are in need. On a personal level, that makes me feel really good.”
Lessing’s Inc. “The menu changes daily, and it really makes you go above and beyond in researching for new dishes and ingredients – some I never have even worked with.”
|Rank||Employer||Founded||Ownership||Sector||Headquarters||HQ state||LI locations||LI employees|
|1||Country Life LLC||1971||Private||Supplements||Hauppauge||NY||2||185|
|4||Piping Rock Health Products||2011||Private||Supplements||Bohemia||NY||9||412|
|5||H2M architects + engineers||1933||Private||Design||Melville||NY||2||294|
|6||Spellman High Voltage Electronics Corp.||1947||Private||Manufacturing||Hauppauge||NY||1||327|
|7||First National Bank of Long Island||1927||Public||Banks||Glen Head||NY||41||340|
|8||IPRO||1984||Non-profit||Quality improvement||Lake Success||NY||1||211|
|9||Options for Community Living Inc.||1982||Non-profit||Human Services||Smithtown||NY||3||193|
|10||Cook Maran & Associates||1950||Private||Insurance||Melville||NY||4||171|
|11||AgeWell New York||2012||Private||Health insurance||Lake Success||NY||1||363|
|12||Lessing’s||1890||Parent company||Restaurants||Great River||NY||30||300|
|13||Marcum LLP||1951||Partnership||Accounting||New York||NY||1||175|
|14||Life’s WORC||1971||Non-profit||Residential and day services||Garden City||NY||30||411|
|15||Malverne Union Free School District||1914||Public||Education||Malverne||NY||1||400|
|16||MSC Indsutrial Supply Co.||1941||Public||Distributing||Melville||NY||1||384|
50 – 149 Long Island workers
TOP SMALL EMPLOYER TLC FAMILY OF CAMPS & INNS
Glen Cove summer camp company is like Disney World for workers
While full-time employees surveyed noted a variety of factors that they felt made the organization an engaging place to work, all, even returning temporary workers agreed it is the company's leadership and values that make it a Top Workplace.
One employee left a career in finance to join the company, another pleaded with his parents just to work there "one more summer," and another says she can't picture working elsewhere and "not being a part of the family" anymore.
So where do these people work? No, not Disney World.
Far from it, but according to employees of Glen Cove-based TLC Family of Camps & Inns, it's "probably as enjoyable."
The summer camp company founded in 1992 by Jay Jacobs, who is also Nassau County's Democratic chairman, earned the No. 1 spot in the Top Long Island Workplaces' small-business category.
And while full-time employees surveyed noted a variety of factors that they felt made the organization an engaging place to work, all, even returning temporary workers, agreed it is the company's leadership and values that make it a Top Workplace. The company employs 50 full-time employees throughout the year, and those were eligible to be polled by Energage in the Top Workplaces survey. During the summer, the company hires about 1,200 additional temporary workers to staff its six summer camps.
Jason Mercado, 38, is the camp director at North Shore Day Camp in Glen Cove. He started working with the company in 2008 and oversees about 180 employees, five of whom work full time.
"I worked in finance for four years, but I just wasn't happy and wanted a change," he said.
"A friend told me about opportunities at TLC Camps, but at first I hesitated because I was already in my late 20s and was looking for something that at the time I thought could be more promising than a 'summertime camp counselor.’ ”
But Mercado said he had participated in wrestling clinics when he was in college and knew he'd "like working with kids," and he wanted to make a positive impact so he "just went for it."
For five years Mercado worked at Timber Lake Camp in upstate Shandaken, where Jacobs himself went when he was a kid and the first camp he acquired when he started the company. Mercado was mentored there by Jacobs and his wife, Mindy, whom he calls an "integral part" of the business. At Timber Lake, Mercado started by supervising a group of third-grade boys, then was promoted to assistant director. He later became part of the staff at North Shore.
"This is definitely a people-first job," he said. "The children and the people that we work with are what make me excited to come to work every day. We have a saying at camp, 'We live 10 for 2,' meaning that 10 months out of the year, we're working towards those two summer months."
And though Mercado said the revolving-door nature of the camp industry poses recruitment and retainment challenges, the job is "always worth it."
Founder Jacobs said that's the point.
"The main principle I follow as the leader of this company is to create an environment that I myself like to work in," said Jacobs, who with his wife works as a director at Timber Lake in the summer. "I strive to give my employees respect, recognition and compensation, so that they feel that they're as much owner of the company as I am."
Part-time camp counselors weren't included in the survey, but they also expressed a strong connection to the company.
Charles Pedersen, 21, thinks working at North Shore Day Camp as a lifeguard is "so worth it" that to his parents' dismay, he's going for his fifth year.
He graduated from college this year, and he said his parents expected him to "get a real job."
"I said no, no, no, I'm going to graduate school, just to prolong my time working here," he said. Pedersen said the biggest challenge in working at the camp is "not the children. It's making sure that you get along with the other adults that you work in such close quarters with for the 39-day season that I feel is so important."
Chief operating officer Dave Skolnik, 35, who has worked for the TLC Family of Camps & Inns for 14 years, said his employment has been a good mesh of his three passions: inspiring children, boosting customer relations and conducting business.
And though he earned a degree in applied economics and management from Cornell University, Skolnik, who is also assistant director at Hampton Day Camp in East Hampton, said, "In a perfect world, this is exactly where I would've ended up."
Once a Timber Lake camper, Skolnik started working at the company straight out of college.
"What I most appreciate about working here is that Jay puts his money where his mouth is," he said.
"For example, throughout the year he pays for several professional development seminars that both full-time and part-time employees can attend. He's hired high-profile speakers, some who worked at companies like Disney and others who were respected child behavior experts, to visit us and lead interactive team-building workshops."
Even so, Skolnik said no business comes without its share of hurdles.
"So many running parts need to be in sync, planning, staff development, communication," Skolnik said.
"You kind of turn on the lights and camp starts, there's no soft opening, so that can be stressful. The show just starts, and everybody needs to be ready to go."
- Daysi Calavia-Robertson
TOP SMALL EMPLOYER SUPPLYHOUSE.COM
Melville company checks on employees' happiness every quarter
Employees at SupplyHouse.com can bring their dogs to work and the company stocks the lunchroom with free food. There's also a yoga room for employees to unwind and even a nap room with beanbag chairs.
The happiness of the employees of Melville-based SupplyHouse.com is taken so seriously that managers inquire about it in their reports' quarterly reviews. “Please rate your happiness at work” is the first item on quarterly “check-ins."
Among small Long Island employers ranked as Top Workplaces by Energage, an Exton, Pennsylvania, firm that researches employee engagement, SupplyHouse.com ranked second based on workers' anonymous responses to a survey.
The company sells plumbing supplies — valves, thermostats, central air conditioners, PVC fittings, boilers and much more — to contractors, homeowners, local entities like government agencies, universities and schools via its website.
The private firm was founded in 2004 by Joshua Meyerowitz, who has an MBA from New York University and is the third generation of his family to enter the plumbing business. The company employs 115 on Long Island and has warehouses in New Jersey, Ohio and Nevada.
Employees' happiness yields dividends, Meyerowitz, 40, said.
“It translates into a successful business where orders don’t slip through the cracks, where people say they are going to do something, and they do it,” Meyerowitz said.
A glance at the company's website gives a sense that the company is unusual; besides images of the company's products, it also has photos of workers on the job or at "giving back" charity events. Clicking on a "Meet the Team" link opens photos and short bios of more than 130 of the company's workers, and not just top executives.
The company’s Long Island employees work in an open-floor-plan office with a millennial feel. Employees can bring their dogs to work. The company stocks the lunchroom every day with fresh fruit and free snacks. There’s a free hot breakfast on Wednesdays, pizza on Fridays, a nap room with beanbag chairs and a yoga room where employees can spread mats and unwind.
Chief operating officer Fernando Cunha, 35, said the company hires more on values like humbleness, honesty and kindness than skills.
“We have passed on people who are highly skilled because the other person was a better cultural fit,” he said.
Jo-Ann Alperin, 56, who couldn’t find a special-education teaching job when she jumped back into the market after 20 years off, didn’t think SupplyHouse would hire her because her skills weren’t a great fit. But five years ago she joined as a receptionist.
“They hire more on personality and values rather than the actual job," she said.
The company hires a lot of recent college grads, and the median age is about 29, Meyerowitz said.
Product-support employee Christine Boehm, 23, graduated last year from Fredonia University with a degree in music theater. Management asked her to conduct acting classes to help with phone etiquette and product videos, she said: “They have a great eye for seeing the best in people.”
- Carrie Mason-Draffen
TOP SMALL EMPLOYER APPLIANCE WORLD
Retailer empowers workers for good customer service
To help ensure team building, the company organizes monthly birthday lunches and a monthly event such as bowling, and the employees break bread together four days a week at lunches cooked in one of the store's nine demo kitchens.
Empowered employees provide great customer service.
That’s the guiding philosophy at Appliance World, a Huntington-based retailer of refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, barbecue grills and other products.
Trusting employees to make decisions allows them to correct problems quickly, such as dealing with a customer upset over a late delivery or unpleasant experience.
"Give the guy back his delivery cost," said Kevin Nathan, 60, who founded the 26-year-old company. "Maybe invite him to an extra cooking" demonstration, which the company offers to customers who buy convection ovens. Employees "can do whatever they want to do within reason. The quicker they do it the better."
Appliance World has more than 50 employees, showrooms in Huntington and Oyster Bay, and a warehouse in Hauppauge. The company ranked third among small employers (with 50 to 149 workers) in a survey of Long Island employees by Energage, an Exton, Pennsylvania, research firm that conducts surveys on organizational health. Energage surveys workers at participating employers and determines which are top workplaces based on employee engagement with the company.
Employees interviewed for this story said Nathan created a company culture of empowerment, respect and team building.
Deanna Meringola, 23, an administrative assistant who also works in customer service, said she feels empowered to resolve problems on her own. When a customer called to say something was wrong with a grill he bought, she made the decision to send the delivery truck back out.
Kevin “trusts us all, and you almost feel hand-picked,” said Meringola, who has worked at the company for two years.
Sales consultant Katie Berbenich, 27, who has worked at Appliance World for nearly four years, said Nathan constantly seeks ideas from employees.
"He wants us to have a voice in the company,” Berbenich said.
Nathan’s four sons who work in the business don’t feel they get any special treatment, except for having more demanded of them. Their father required them to learn the business from the ground up — as in sweeping the warehouse, said Mike Nathan, 32, the Huntington store’s manager.
“Nothing was handed to me,” Nathan said.
To help ensure team building, the company’s events coordinator, Victoria Rezny, 26, organizes monthly birthday lunches and a monthly event such as bowling. And the employees break bread together four days a week at lunches that staffer and chef Max Nartowicz cooks in one of the store’s 11 demo kitchens.
Rezny said when she heard that Appliance World was in contention as a Top Workplace on Long Island she thought, “We could potentially win that.”
- Carrie Mason-Draffen
American Portfolios Financial Services Inc. “I am constantly engaged to bring my expertise to the table and challenged to better my development.”
Blue Ocean Wealth Solutions “I feel great about helping people with their financial needs.”
Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman LLP “The culture of the firm allows every employee, regardless of their position, to feel like what they are doing is an integral part of the overall success of the firm.”
Contemporary Computer Services Inc. “I get to use and learn the latest in technology with lots of people who are just as passionate about it as I am.”
East/West Industries Inc. “What we do saves people’s lives. I love supporting the military and developing new products.”
Esquire Bank “I learn new things every day and feel the chance to grow … enjoy the culture of the bank compared to other big banks.”
Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP “I am surrounded by very talented people all striving to meet the client’s needs and goals.”
Intelligent Product Solutions “My job allows me to collaborate with great people to solve complex problems.”
|Rank||Employer||Founded||Ownership||Sector||Headquarters||HQ state||LI locations||LI employees|
|1||TLC Family of Camps & Inns||1992||Parent company||Summer camps||Glen Cove||NY||1||50|
|4||American Portfolios Financial Services Inc.||2001||Private||Broker||Holbrook||NY||1||92|
|5||Piece Management||1995||Private||Contracting||New Hyde Park||NY||2||58|
|6||American Advisors Group||2004||Private||Mortgages||Orange||CA||1||74|
|7||United Northern Mortgage Bankers Limited||1979||Private||Mortgages||Levittown||NY||1||130|
|8||KidsFirst Evaluation and Advocacy Center||1997||Private||Education||Deer Park||NY||2||54|
|9||P.W. Grosser Consulting||1990||Private||Engineering||Bohemia||NY||1||60|
|10||RES Co.||2000||Private||Long-term care||Bohemia||NY||1||51|
|11||Mercy Haven Inc.||1985||Non-profit||Social services||Islip Terrace||NY||5||66|
|12||East/West Industries Inc||1968||Private||Aerospace||Ronkonkoma||NY||1||78|
|13||United States Luggage Co. LLC.||1940||Private||Distributor||Hauppauge||NY||1||61|
|14||Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers Corp.||2010||Private||Mortgages||Westbury||NY||2||119|
|15||SUNation Solar Systems||2003||Private||Utilities||Ronkonkoma||NY||1||128|
|16||Sachem Public Library||1916||Government||Education||Holbrook||NY||1||119|
|17||Louis K McLean Associates Engineers & Surveyors PC||1950||Private||Engineering||Brookhaven||NY||2||71|
|19||Ruttura and Sons Construction Co. Inc.||1918||Private||Contractors||West Babylon||NY||1||57|
|20||AEG Management LLC Nassau Coliseum||2017||Private||Entertainment||Uniondale||NY||1||52|
|21||Intelligent Product Solutions||2008||Public||Engineering||Hauppauge||NY||1||55|
|23||Patchogue Medford Library||1900||Government||Education||Patchogue||NY||2||85|
|24||Above All Store Fronts Inc.||1993||Private||Construction||Hauppauge||NY||1||117|
|25||Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP||1976||Partnership||Law||Uniondale||NY||1||103|
|26||Blue Ocean Wealth Solutions||1851||Cooperative/Mutual||Insurance||East Hills||NY||1||133|
|27||NY Physical Therapy & Wellness||2001||Partnership||Therapy||Melville||NY||9||83|
|28||Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman LLP||1965||Partnership||Law||East Meadow||NY||2||149|
|29||Contemporary Computer Services Inc||1974||Private||Technology||Bohemia||NY||1||75|
|30||Transervice Logistics Inc.||1969||Private||Transportation||Lake Success||NY||5||55|
|31||Dukal Corp.||1991||Private||Medical products||Ronkonkoma||NY||1||54|
|33||Cost Containment Group||2006||Private||Health care||Syosset||NY||1||59|
|34||Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP||1993||Private||Law||Islandia||NY||1||124|
|35||The Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk||1967||Non-profit||Nonprofit||Patchogue||NY||11||145|
|36||Twomey Latham Shea Kelley Dubin and Quartararo LLP||1973||Partnership||Law||Riverhead||NY||5||65|
|38||Citrin Cooperman||1979||Partnership||CPAs||New York||NY||1||53|
|39||VHB Engineering, Surveying & Landscape Architecture PC||1979||Private||Engineering||Watertown||MA||1||58|
|40||National Consumer Panel||2010||Partnership||Data analysis||Syosset||NY||1||70|
|41||Frankel Loughran Starr & Vallone LLP||1995||Partnership||Tax consulting||Garden City||NY||1||77|
|42||ABI Document Support Services||1981||Private||Record retrieval||Loma Linda||CA||1||55|
Newsday's first Top Workplaces survey relies on employees' ratings of how engaged they are with their jobs and their employer's business and mission.
Newsday's first Top Workplaces survey relies on employees' ratings of how engaged they are with their jobs and their employer's business and mission.
Newsday partnered with Exton, Pennsylvania-based Energage, an employee research and culture technology firm, to determine Long Island’s 2018 Top Workplaces based solely on anonymous employee survey feedback. A total of 74 employers scored well enough to earn the Top Workplaces recognition.
Starting in February, Newsday welcomed anyone to nominate companies as Top Workplaces. In all, 1,276 employers in the region were invited to take the employee survey. Any employer was eligible as long as it had at least 50 employees on Long Island. Employers could be public, private, nonprofit or governmental.
There is no cost to enter the Top Workplaces program. “Becoming a Top Workplace isn’t something organizations can buy,” said Doug Claffey, CEO of Energage. “It’s an achievement organizations have to work for.”
In all, 116 organizations agreed to take the survey. Combined, they employ 57,222 people on Long Island. Of those employees who received questionnaires, 24,069 responded on paper or online.
The Long Island employees' anonymous responses were compared with Energage's national database of surveys of 7,000 companies and 2.5 million employees in 50 different markets each year.
The employee survey gathers responses on 24 factors covering seven areas, including organizational health factors that measure how well employees are working together toward a common cause:
•Alignment — where the company is headed, its values, cooperation
•Effectiveness — doing things well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas
•Connection — employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful
•My Manager — cares about concerns, helps employees learn and grow
In addition, the survey asks employees about other factors:
•Employee engagement — motivation, retention and referral
•Leader — confidence in company leadership
•The Basics — pay, benefits, flexibility, training, expectations
Statements relating to “Connection” and “Alignment” are consistently judged most important to employees, while statements about pay and benefits rate least important for workplace satisfaction.
Responders rank the statements on a 7-point scale ranging from "Strongly Disagree" to "Strongly Agree." Each statement has been tested to ensure it has a high correlation with how employees feel about their workplace, which is calculated by correlating the statement responses to employee engagement.
Smaller employers tend to score higher than midsize employers, and midsize employers tend to score higher than large employers. Employers are ranked among groups of similar size to most accurately compare results. Within those size groupings, companies are ranked, and those that score high enough are recognized as Top Workplaces. Energage also determines special award winners based on standout scores on specific areas of the survey.
Why aren’t some companies on the list? They may have chosen not to participate or did not score high enough based on the survey results. To ensure organizations are accurately administering the survey, Energage runs statistical tests to look for questionable results. Sometimes it disqualifies employers based on those tests.
To participate in the 2019 program go to newsday.com/nominateworkplace.
- Bob Helbig, Energage
Confidence in company leadership was strongly correlated with surveys where employees were engaged with their work. And some of the other factors of engagement -- such as effectiveness of company management, and feelings of connection to the workplace -- are strongly influenced by company leaders.
Leadership is about what workers can achieve, not what the boss can accomplish.
“Leadership is creating environments that influence others to achieve group goals,” said Dan Ritchie, regional director of performance consulting at Dale Carnegie Training of Long Island in Hauppauge.
“Leadership is about getting the best out of people,” said Erik Gershwind, president and chief executive of MSC Industrial Supply Co., a supplier of industrial tools and supplies, one of Long Island’s largest public companies and one of Long Island’s Top Workplaces in a survey of local employees. “It is about getting people to do things they never thought possible.”
The survey, done by Exton, Pennsylvania, research firm Energage, compared the responses of workers at 116 participating companies and selected 74 as Top Workplaces, where employee engagement is high.
The survey shows leadership is key to Long Island workers in evaluating their own companies. Confidence in the company leadership was strongly correlated with surveys where employees were engaged with their work. And some of the other factors of engagement — such as effectiveness of company management, and feelings of connection to the workplace — are strongly influenced by company leaders.
Speaking broadly, few employees in the United States believe the heads of their companies demonstrate effective leadership skills, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report released last year. It found that just 22 percent of employees “strongly agree” their organization’s leadership has a clear direction for the company; 15 percent “strongly agree” the leadership of the company makes them enthusiastic about the future and 13 percent of the employees “strongly agree” the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with rest of the organization.
The stakes for strong corporate leadership are high because of the changing workplace. Baby Boomer retirements are creating the need for many replacements, and executives have to find ways to attract and maintain the more restless millennials, those roughly 18 to 36 year old, who are the largest age group in the workplace.
“There is an aging workforce, and [there is] the need to create a new generation of leaders that organizations can hold onto and grow talents more strategically than in the past,” said Pat Malone, executive director of corporate and professional education at Stony Brook University.
Effective leaders share certain characteristics, Ritchie said. They are self-directed and have a vision for the company, have good communication and people skills and clear performance objectives, and believe in accountability, especially for themselves.
Michael Vittorio, president and chief executive of First of Long Island Corp., the parent of First National Bank of Long Island and one of Long Island’s Top Workplaces, said it is important for a company not only to have a vision but to inspire employees to share in it.
Along those lines, the bank hosts town hall meetings twice a year off premises to speak with employees about the company’s goals and challenges and to get feedback.
“You want to inspire people to take on the vision that you’re trying to create,” Vittorio said, “and to have them do it because they want to based on the culture you created, not because you are the boss and you tell them to.”
Inspiring employees to buy into the vision entails effective communication skills.
“Don’t live in an ivy tower,” Vittorio said. “Walk among your employees; get out and visit.”
He and senior management meet small groups of employees “all the time” over breakfast and coffee. And on Saturdays during a cool-down after a run, he checks in with five branch managers by phone to see what is on their minds. It takes him about 10 weeks to make the rounds of all 52 branches.
“You are hearing firsthand the challenges,” he said. “That communicates that you care.”
Showing employees that you care is paramount, said John Callahan, 56, president of another Top Workplace, Riverhead Building Supply. Callahan started at the company shelving hardware.
”We value our people, we really do,” he said. “We recognize that our people are in front of our customers every day. I am supportive. I try to make them as successful as they can be.”
He said the company also communicates an appreciation for its employees by attempting to fill positions from within the company first.
“We believe in promoting from within,” he said. “I am evidence of that.”
Vittorio, who began his career at First National Bank as a teller, said his humble beginning at the company helps him to identify with the challenges some of his employees may be facing, including economic ones.
“I think it is different when you work your way up from an entry-level position and you have an understanding of what people are going through,” he said.
As a result, some employees who earn under a certain amount of money are reimbursed their health insurance deductible, he said.
He also said his bank is the only one on Long Island that still offers both a 401(k) and an active defined-benefit pension, which a company pays to retirees based on years of service.
“That is part of our culture and part of our approach to our employees where we are truly trying to take care of our employees.”
To make sure that knowledge of Riverhead Building Supply’s performance objectives runs throughout the company, Callahan and his staff share them with employees, beginning with their orientation.
“Be honest,” he said they are told. “Take care of our customers and each other, and enjoy what you do.”
Accountability is a crucial ingredient for earning the respect and confidence of employees, Vittorio said.
“If you want to be a good leader, you have to lead by example, “ he said. “And probably the most important attribute of a leader is you have to be sincere. There has to be a strong sense of integrity.”
Mentoring, both executives said, helped shaped their leadership styles.
Callahan said an early mentor of his “challenged me at every step of the way and made me see that this could be more than just a job,” he said. “It was a career about helping people.”
He said the brothers who own Riverhead Building Supply, Edgar and Russell Goodale, also have been great mentors.
“They led by example,” he said. “They worked harder than anybody else.”
- Carrie Mason-Draffen
Barely half of Long Island respondents had a positive view of whether their pay is "fair" for the work they do compared to almost two-thirds nationwide who think they're fairly compensated.
Think your paycheck is too small and company meetings are too long?
You’re not alone.
Long Island workers are less satisfied by what’s in their paychecks and less tolerant of meetings than workers nationwide, according to a new survey of more than 24,000 workers in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Barely half of Long Island respondents (51.3 percent) had a positive view of whether their pay is “fair” for the work they do compared to almost two-thirds (63.3 percent) nationwide who think they’re fairly compensated.
The survey revealed a similar — but less pronounced — gap concerning job benefits.
About 52 percent of Long Island workers said they have a “good benefits package” compared to others in their industry. That’s more than 7 percentage points lower than workers surveyed nationwide.
Newsday’s Top Workplaces partner, Energage, based in Exton, Pennsylvania, surveyed 116 Long Island companies with 24,069 respondents. Nationwide, 6,566 companies were surveyed since mid-July 2017, with about 1.3 million respondents.
Surveys were conducted in markets where Energage partnered with media outlets and did not employ sampling techniques designed to approximate the responses from all the workers in a particular market.
David Prottas, a professor of management at Adelphi University, said it is understandable that Long Islanders might chafe at their pay and benefits.
“Long Island is a very high-cost-living location,” he said, and that can engender negative attitudes from workers.
“Somehow I should be getting more or I should be living better, and therefore I have a problem with how much I’m getting paid,” he said of workers’ feelings.
Prottas said workers in other high-cost areas, such as parts of California, may have the same reaction.
At the same time, he said, Long Island employers may face a quandary as they grapple with rivals in lower-cost regions.
“I can’t compete if I have to pay my workers” at the level required to equal the standard of living workers have in lower-cost regions, he said.
Long Island workers also voiced more frustration than the national averages about company meetings and openness to different points of view and new ideas.
While 58.4 percent of Long Island workers who responded to the poll said company meetings “make good use of my time,” that was 5 percentage points lower than the national average.
Janet Lenaghan, vice dean of Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business and a professor of management, said meetings that extend an employee’s workday can have a cost, such as additional wages for a baby-sitter or elder-care provider who is asked to stay on duty. And that holds true especially in a high-cost region like Long Island.
“Time is a commodity,” she said. “When you’re fighting for every moment . . . . it can create another cost factor.”
Nassau and Suffolk counties had 2016 median household incomes of $105,870 and $92,933, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That was far higher than the nationwide median household income of $59,039.
At the same time, Long Island regularly ranks among the regions with the highest cost of living in the nation. For instance, the average annual 2016 property tax bill in Nassau County was $11,232, while Suffolk came in at $9,333, according to real estate information company Attom Data Solutions.
The nationwide analysis by Attom of 84 million homes in 586 counties with a population of at least 100,000 and at least 10,000 single family homes found the average annual property tax bill was $3,296.
The survey found 7.2 percent more Long Islanders disagreed with the statement “This company encourages different points of view” than employees nationwide, while 7 percent more workers on Long Island than the national average took issue with the idea that their company encourages new ideas.
- Ken Schachter
From 2012 to 2016, engagement at small companies grew by 5 percentage points, while engagement at other companies barely budged or even diminished despite larger companies in general having sizable HR teams and hefty budgets, a Gallup report found.
Large companies with sizable HR teams and hefty budgets would seem to have the upper hand when it comes to employee engagement, but that’s not necessarily the case.
A Gallup report released last year found that from 2012 to 2016, engagement at small companies grew by 5 percentage points, while engagement at other companies barely budged or even diminished.
In many cases, smaller companies with fewer layers of management and fewer employees have an opportunity to reach their workers on a more direct, intimate level, giving them a potential advantage.
“Very small companies often have high individual ownership for the outcomes of the business, [while] large organizations need multiple teams and managers to operate in sync and communicate,” says Jim Harter, chief scientist of workplace management and well-being at Washington-based Gallup, an analytics and advice firm.
Still, many larger organizations Gallup has worked with have achieved high engagement levels, and while a company’s size can be a factor, the most important factor is the quality of management at all levels of the organization, he says.
Overall, companies seem to be doing a better job at engagement than in the past, likely reflective of improvements in the quality of management for some organizations, Harter says.
The percentage of "engaged" workers in the United States — those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace — is now 34 percent, tying its highest level since Gallup began reporting the national figure in 2000.
The percentage who are "actively disengaged" — workers who have miserable work experiences — is 13 percent, its lowest level. That's “likely due, in part, to a labor market with more choice, where employees don’t need to settle for poor work environments with bad bosses,” says Harter.
To be sure, leadership plays a key role in engaging employees.
“Each employee has their own unique engagement recipe,” says David Lee, founder and principal at HumanNature@Work, a Saco, Maine-based leadership and employee engagement firm. “If you want to cook up a high engagement workplace…you need to know each employee’s ‘recipe’ items.”
Employers should have the “help me, help you, help us" conversation with employees, to see what they can do together “to make this the best work experience possible and allow you to do the best work to help us be the best company,” Lee says.
Too often, firms, especially larger ones, rely on “goodies, gimmicks and gala events” as the answer to improving engagement, he says. “They’re not applying the right solution to the issue. The solution comes out of the conversation.”
Employees need to feel that they’re valued and heard.
With that in mind, Ronkonkoma-based East/West Industries Inc., which designs and manufactures aircraft seats and crew life-support systems, gathers all its employees at least once a month for a meeting to provide updates on the firm’s progress and allow them to voice any questions or concerns, president Teresa Ferraro says. The company, with about 80 employees, was one of Long Island's Top Workplaces in a survey of employee engagement by Exton, Pennsylvania, research firm Energage.
Each month, each manager at the firm can recognize three workers for outstanding performance by placing their names in a drawing. At the meeting a winner is picked and presented with a gift card, and the manager tells the group why they were recognized.
The firm also encourages employee enrichment by offering online and in-house classroom training in different areas, says Ferraro.
Having a sense of growth and development can boost engagement, say experts.
At P.W. Grosser Consulting Inc., a Bohemia-based environmental engineering firm that was also one of Long Island's Top Workplaces in the Energage survey, "lunch and learn" programs in technical areas are offered at least monthly on-site, says HR director Patricia Sileo.
“It helps employees understand different aspects of the company and their colleagues’ jobs,” she says.
The company, with about 60 employees on Long Island, also offers flexible scheduling, mainly for office positions, Sileo says.
Flexible scheduling is a low-cost tool that can reap significant benefits.
“You spend more time at work than you do with your families,” says Randi Busse, president of Workforce Development Group, a North Massapequa-based customer service training and employee engagement firm.
So if employees feel their family needs are being met, they can then focus and be more engaged at work, she says.
It also humanizes the employer.
“There’s a sense of caring,” says Tammy Cunha, a project manager at P.W. Grosser, who says she appreciates the firm’s flexibility. During the summer, when her son goes to camp, the bus picks him up from the office and drops him off there when camp ends.
She also appreciates open communication at the company.
The firm has an open-door policy that allows employees to approach top leadership, including founder and CEO Paul W. Grosser, without an appointment, says Sileo.
And while efforts like these are encouraging, “there’s a lot of room for improvement [at firms overall],” says Busse.
Small businesses can definitely have an advantage when it comes to engagement, but “whether they take advantage of that advantage is another story,” she says.
- Jamie Herzlich
A letter from
Long Islanders are passionate about the place they call home, the place they have chosen to live and build a family — and they are passionate about the place they have chosen to work.
Almost one year ago Newsday partnered with Energage, an employee research and culture technology firm, to determine Long Island’s 2018 Top Workplaces. This recognition, open to all employers on Long Island (public, private, nonprofit or governmental) with at least 50 employees, is solely based on anonymous employee survey feedback. The survey takes a deep dive into employee engagement, measuring whether employees feel aligned with their company’s mission and leadership.
Some of the companies are well known, many are not. You’ll hear words like appreciated, empowered and valued. You’ll get a better understanding of how employees relate to their work and how management motivates them to work toward their highest potential.
At Newsday we’re committed to telling the story of Long Island — and all of these workplaces are a very big part of that story. They have built impressive, award-winning organizations and are leading the way for the entire business community.
From all of us at Newsday, congratulations to the inaugural 2018 Top Long Island Workplaces winners.
Is your workplace
culture where it
needs to be?
Energage CEO Doug Claffey shares his insights on what makes most top workplaces outperform their competitors.
Top Workplaces outperform average organizations on many levels, but one key distinction stands out: Leaders of Top Workplaces see the competitive advantage of creating a workplace culture where employees are highly engaged. And they make culture a strategic priority, day in and day out.
Every organization has a culture. Some are intentional, some accidental. Companies that claim culture is a priority but don’t back it up are just fooling themselves. Failing to focus on culture is how leaders lose their jobs and how companies cease to exist.
In fact, culture is the only remaining sustainable competitive advantage. Great business strategies can be copied, but culture cannot. When an organization’s culture fails, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes public and costly.
Nationwide, less than a third of employees are truly engaged at work. But it’s a different story at Top Workplaces. Of the 47,000 organizations Energage has surveyed in more than a decade, Top Workplaces achieve almost double the engagement rate. At companies that score in the top 10 percent on our surveys, more than 85 percent of the workers expressed strong engagement with their work.
Energage considers employees engaged if they are motivated about their work, want to stay with the organization and would refer others to join them.
Of the 116 companies surveyed on Long Island this year for the Top Workplaces program, 20 had engagement rates of 75 percent or higher.
Recognition and bragging rights aside, employee engagement translates into stronger retention, higher productivity and better performance. Employee engagement is the outcome of a healthy workplace culture. In today’s business environment, culture distinguishes the world’s most valuable companies. It’s where value is created or destroyed.
Leaders at Top Workplaces are intentional about defining and forging a unique culture that directly supports specific business goals. Not that all cultures are the same. Even among Top Workplaces, some thrive on high energy and fun, while others benefit from quiet intensity. So ask yourself:
•What defines your workplace culture?
•How do you know?
•Are you happy with it?
•Is it helping or hindering your business objectives?
Whenever I ask leaders these questions, the answers spur terrific discussions. The challenge is understanding how to measure culture and how to change it. The most tangible measure of culture is employee engagement. Great workplace cultures flourish when a team of talented people share an organization’s values and embrace its objectives. We look at these key factors in engagement:
•As an employee, do you feel you are giving your best?
•Do you want to stay?
•Would you recommend the organization to others?
Strong cultures become self-sustaining: They attract like-minded people who will thrive in that environment. That’s why Top Workplaces can be picky about who they bring onboard, whereas other organizations have to pay more money to keep people.
Creating a great workplace culture requires raising the level of trust and connection among employees so they commit to do their best every day. Top Workplaces do this, and they do it consistently well. So when leaders at aspiring organizations ask me how they, too, can capture this advantage, my answer is this: Get intentional about workplace culture.
Doug Claffey is the CEO of Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2.5 million employees at more than 6,000 organizations in 2017. Energage is the research partner for Top Workplaces.
TOP WORKPLACES EVENT