McKesson's break area offers shuffleboard, video game consoles, TVs and a snack center. (Photo by Ansel Olson)
With or without the fringe, it’s all about meaningful benefits.
That’s the common thread in the 15 businesses we’ve profiled as some of the Great Places to Work in the Richmond region. It’s a diverse sampling, ranging from a nonprofit (the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls) to two in the Fortune 500 (CarMax and health-care giant McKesson), but they all offer plentiful perks and opportunities to their people.
There’s a bevy of benefits out there, including 30 days of paid maternity leave (catering business MOSAIC), monthly onsite massage therapists (tech company Authentic), a meditation room (planned for the new offices of Dominion Payroll), and paid time off for workers to volunteer with the nonprofits (the employee-owned financial service Davenport).
“The companies included on this year's list have created strong cultures and robust approaches to attract and retain great employees.” —Richard Coughlan, associate professor of management at the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond
It’s the first time we’ve undertaken a state-of-the-workplace survey in a decade. We sent more than 400 letters to regional businesses with 50 or more employees via snail mail and emails. Both included a link to our online survey. We had help in reviewing the results from Richard Coughlan, associate professor of management at the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond, and from Christopher Reina, assistant professor in management at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Business.
With their input, we selected a dozen companies from the participants in our online survey. Three more profile subjects were selected from recommendations provided by Reina and Coughlan.
Some of the factors considered in compiling the sampling were diversity, a strong benefits package, and engaged leadership. We also tried to offer a balance of businesses in terms of size and in types of occupations. So how representative is our sampling?
“The companies included on this year’s list have created strong cultures and robust approaches to attract and retain great employees,” says Coughlan. “In that regard, they represent the broader state of the workplace across the [United States]. The competition for talent in Richmond is healthy, and firms must be willing to provide meaningful benefits in order to be successful in their search for tomorrow’s leaders.”
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there’s nothing scientific about our sampling. It’s just a snapshot of the state of the workplace in the Richmond region, with no rankings and in no particular order.
We’ve also taken a look at changes in the workplace, including a story on how millennials bring different expectations to the job, and a question-and-answer session on workplace diversity with Sam McClure of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. And just for fun, there’s also a sampling of some of the on-the-job perks available throughout the region.
A comprehensive benefits package and a family-friendly atmosphere are hallmarks of Capital One. Benefits include rooms for nursing mothers, fitness centers and flexible spending accounts. Diversity is promoted through seven associate networks that are open to all workers, including African-American, Asian, and LGBT. They provide employees ways to celebrate their shared culture and encourage. “Inclusion is embedded in my job and how we work every day here. It feels so organic and natural,” says Alicia Thompson, a manager in Enterprise Supplier Management."
Field: Financial services
In Business Since: 1994
Years in Richmond: 23
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 11,000
Accolades: “America’s Best Employers,” Forbes; “100 Best Companies to Work For,” (#88) Fortune
The health care giant has a state-of-the-art workplace in its Richmond divisional headquarters, which opened in 2015. It offers collaborative work stations; a gym with weight and cardio rooms, a cafeteria; coffee machines and break areas on each floor and walking trails on campus. McKesson also has gone green, with the facility earning WELL Building and LEED certifications. Employee wellness is a focus of its Vitality program, a 2015 recipient of The Health Project’s C. Everett Koop Award for excellence in health improvement and cost savings.
Field: Health care
In Business Since: 1833
Years in Richmond: 20
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 691
Average Salary: $29,670
Accolades: Four consecutive years a best place to work for LGBT equality, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation; 2017 military-friendly employer, militaryfriendly.com
Pre-K teacher Stephanie Kilby works with children at Bon Secours Family Center at St. Mary's Hospital. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Bon Secours Virginia Health System
Family-friendly Bon Secours offers tuition assistance, a parental leave program, wellness initiatives, flexible work arrangements, three onsite child care centers and eldercare help for employees who are caretakers for a loved one. “Bon Secours values its workforce and knows that happier, healthier employees lead to better care for our patients and their families,” says Paul Junod, director of human resources.
Field: Health care
In Business Since: 1824
Years in Richmond: 51
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 9,000
Accolades: 1999-Present Best Practice Employer (Working Mother Magazine, National Association of Female Executives, World at Work and The Families and Work Institute)
At The Faison Center, employees are eligible for up to $10,000 in grants and loans per year for relevant college coursework. After two years of work, the company forgives the loan. As many as a quarter of the company’s 200 employees take advantage of the professional development opportunity each year, says Francesca Jones, director of human resources. “We want to get motivated folks and we’ve found that the people who want to continue their education make really great staff members,” Jones says.
In Business Since: 1998
Years in Richmond: 19
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 200
The workplace is stocked with snacks. There’s a café with a barista and there’s a kegerator, too, at CapTech. “This resonates with clients,” says Emily Krause, director of marketing. “We are fun to work with and don’t take ourselves too seriously.” Matt Kowtna, a consultant, says he appreciates the “career coach” program where mentors help staff members pursue individual goals while creating a team mentality.
Field: IT management consulting
In Business Since: 1997
Years in Richmond: 20
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 325
Accolades: 2016 No. 6 best place to work nationally, Consulting magazine, fifth consecutive year on list
Diversity is celebrated at CarMax, where 48 percent of employees self-identify as minorities and about 55 percent of managers are women or minorities. Feedback is sought constantly and training offerings are extensive. The home office in Goochland County has 3 miles of trails, a softball field, a gym open around the clock, on-site health fairs, fitness facilities and on-site nurses each Tuesday. “We have a family-oriented culture based on transparency, respect, and teamwork,” says Traina Lee, director of public affairs and communications.
Field: Used vehicle sales
In Business Since: 1993
Years in Richmond: 24
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 1,400
Accolades: Best Workplaces for Millennials 2016 and Best Workplaces in Retail 2016, Fortune
Colortree provides its workers with tools of the trade including uniforms, laundry, a stipend for steel-toed boots and cellphones for salaried, exempt workers. “We are intently listening to our employees in order to build a culture where our people can be at their best for our customers,” says William Mack, vice president of human resources. Colortree supports the community through sponsorship of an annual golf tournament to benefit a college-bound Benedictine College Preparatory School graduate.
Field: Direct mail printing
In Business Since: 1988
Years in Richmond: 28
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 236
Average Starting Salary: $32,200
Accolades: 2015 DMAW (Direct Marketing Association of Washington) Partner of the Year
Admittedly, payroll is not the most exciting line of work, says Lora Mullins, Dominion Payroll’s director of human resources, so the company wants to make sure its employees look forward to coming in each day. To that end, the company will relocate to its new headquarters in Scott’s Addition this year. The new digs (below) include a gym, a meditation room and a private maternity room. Dogs are welcome, too, Mullins adds. “We try to give our employees an atmosphere that’s fun,” she says.
Field: Human resource solutions
In Business Since: 2002
Years in Richmond: 15
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 60
Accolades: Chamber RVA YP Workplace Award 2014 for best in attracting, retaining and developing young professionals; Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list, 2010-2016
Mike Holland and Laurette Torrence, managing partners at Mosaic, with Jack Russell terriers Zoe, 12 weeks old, and Hank (Photo by Jay Paul)
Mosaic Catering + Events
Education and flexibility are watchwords at Mosaic. They offer extensive training sessions and also cover all education expenses for full-time workers to enhance job-related skills. Their largest training event is the annual All Hands Meeting in which employees from all of Mosaic’s locations converge on Richmond for two days of training and bonding events that include a cooking competition. Employees may take 30 paid days of maternity leave. They also can bring in a pet or a child in a time of need and can work remotely as well. “We have to be somewhat flexible for our people to have a life,” says Ryan Traylor, director of catering.
In Business Since: 1996
Years in Richmond: 20
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 66
Average Starting Salary: $26,000
Accolades: Best Caterer 2016, Richmond magazine, Best Caterer in Richmond 2016, Bride, and Best Caterer in central Virginia 2016, Virginia Living
Luck Companies – comprised of Luck Stone, Luck Ecosystems and Luck Real Estate Ventures – considers its tagline, “Igniting human potential,” a mantra of sorts. The company has a values-based culture that permeates everything they do, says University of Richmond's Richard Coughlin. The work-life balance is respected and appreciated; they tend to promote internally; and learning and development opportunities are available at all levels. Its “feedback rich culture” ensures newbies and veterans stay atop their game, says Natalie Brisbane, a spokeswoman for the Goochland-based company. “We see it as our responsibility to help others grow,” she says.
Field: Construction, crushed stone
In Business Since: 1923
Years in Richmond: 94
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 360
Accolades: 2015 Impact Award, Chamber RVA
Virginia Credit Union
This credit union pays 100 percent of the premium for its employees’ medical and prescription insurance, life insurance and short-term disability coverage, and 75 to 99 percent toward dependent coverage for medical, dental and prescription coverage. There’s also a student-loan reduction program and a wellness program that will pay half of a gym membership (up to $325) and provides workers with an extra vacation day for completing a physical.
Field: Financial services
In business since: 1928
Years in Richmond: 89
Number of Richmond-based employees: 700
Average starting salary: $46,364
Accolades: Virginia Business’ Best Places to Work, 2013-2016; Best Credit Union, Richmond magazine Best & Worst, August 2016
Executive Director Rich Duke says this law firm lacks a corporate feel, and that’s a positive: “We have a tightly knit and collegial environment where people get to know one another,” he says. The director of human services, Ellen Purcell, who has been there for 30 years, says she enjoys the annual staff appreciation week and the way everyone rallies together in times of need. And then there are great benefits, including a free health plan option and 24-hour gym access with a linen service.
In Business Since: 1945
Years in Richmond: 73
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 120
Accolades: 2013-2016 Law Firm of the Year, The M&A Advisor
Team members at Authentic (Photo by Jay Paul)
Benefits include a $4,000 annual training stipend, weekly in-house enrichment training, flex schedules and 24-hour access to the office. A massage therapist is available monthly. Half of the workforce are women, and the company offers 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. You can also make a personal statement in your work space, courtesy of a $200 per year perk that can be used for gear including laptop covers, software, bags, chairs or headphones.
Field: Digital marketing technology
Years in Richmond: 4
In Business Since: 2013
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 55
Accolades: Healthcare Marketing Impact Awards silver recipient, 2016 Digital Campaign of the Year, presented by Modern Healthcare and Advertising Age
Virginia Home for Boys and Girls
This nonprofit pays about 80 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums for its workers, and employees get nine paid holidays. Those with one or two years on the job start the year with 144 hours of paid time off. One intangible benefit is that workers genuinely care for one another, says Jalisa Mason, a group home manager. One example: In 2015, the school provided housing to an employee and her family after a fire in their home displaced them.
In Business Since: 1846
Years in Richmond: 170
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 104
Average Starting Salary: $40,225
Davenport & Co.
Davenport invests in its employees with benefits including profit sharing, performance bonuses, gym memberships and a room for new mothers. Employees are paid for days they volunteer. “We really do feel that it is our responsibility to take care of our clients, to take care of each other and to leave our firm in better shape for the next generation,” says Ann N. Richmond, senior vice president and chief operating officer and treasurer.
Field: Financial services
In Business Since: 1863
Years in Richmond: 154
Number of Richmond-Based Employees: 247
Accolades: 2011, 2013-2016 Best Places To Work in Virginia, Best Companies Group and Virginia Business Magazine