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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

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

Test - title

THIS IS A TEST BRIEF THAT SHOULD NOT HIDE ON CLICK

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

Test title

THIS IS A TEST BRIEF THAT SHOULD HIDE ON CLICK

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

Test title - brief should hide on click

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.

This is a test article

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