Best Places to Work Winner: Diversified

Harrison, N.Y. | Founded in 1963 | 1,124 employees | Ranks 2nd among companies with more than 1,000 employees

Diversified Halloween
Diversified staff celebrating Halloween

CEO Peter Kunkel says one way to understand the culture of Diversified is to drop by the company gym at the firm's Harrison, N.Y., headquarters.

Early every day, Mr. Kunkel works out. Later in the day, Alice Hocking, the chief operating officer, does her regular workout.

Employees don't need to be shy about talking to these executives during their gym time, Mr. Kunkel said. Such conversations are not just possible, they're welcome.

“You don't get paid to sit in your office,” Mr. Kunkel said. “You see people in a different light. Call it information-sharing in a fun way.”

The gym is just one place Diversified's employees interact in a less-than-hierarchical setting. “Nobody is afraid to walk into my office to ask for help or more resources,” said Ms. Hocking.

Informality, minimal bureaucracy, workplace flexibility and easy access to top management are among the attributes that landed the company on Pensions & Investments' list of Best Places to Work in Money Management. Diversified ranked second among companies with more than 1,000 employees.

“There's no formality,” said Mr. Kunkel.

As an example, he noted the absence of executive suites at Diversified, whose headquarters takes up two floors of a four-floor building in suburban New York. His office is in the middle of Diversified's financial center, which includes staff members from finance, sales and marketing departments as well as the CFO and heads of sales and marketing. Ms. Hocking's office is in the middle of the call center.

“It's such a great feeling to be part of a team, and all of the officers of the company are very approachable and have their doors open for people to walk in at any time when help is needed,” an employee commented in the survey that helped determine which money management firms made the list.

The company encourages teamwork, ranging from coaching sessions for managers to employee suggestion days to the Quality Service Award program.

The QSA acknowledges employees' contributions with a $500 award and an article in the company newsletter, said Barbara Whitebook, vice president for human resources. The QSA often reflects efforts to improve a process and save time and money, she said.

For example, “one employee questioned how user fees for an automated work distribution system were applied and wanted to look into it,” she said. “Her analysis resulted in our ability to reduce the number of users, which saves us at least $85,000 annually.” Another employee earned a QSA by developing a new labeling and central record-keeping process that enabled more efficient access to off-site records and cut annual storage fees in half, she said.

“If you identify a need and bring it to the attention of management,” said one employee, “more often than not the response is: "Great idea. Have at it.'”

Another display of teamwork is Raving Fans, a peer-to-peer recognition program. The work of Raving Fans is published quarterly, and those recognized get tickets for their accomplishments that can be redeemed or accumulated for awards. For example one ticket is worth two movie tickets; seven tickets is worth a day off. “It promotes a collaborative environment,” Ms. Whitebook said.

Outside of the office, the teamwork is extended to Diversified's employee association, which holds a meet-and-greet every quarter for new employees at a local restaurant.

The company promotes teamwork through events such as a 5K race, wellness fairs and basketball and volleyball teams that compete with other companies.

Each year, employees may take 12 hours of company time to volunteer for company charitable events or for the charity of their choice. Diversified works with Habitat For Humanity, building or restoring a house each year in Westchester County. “This is team-building and community service,” Mr. Kunkel said.