Brandywine staff posing with donations collected for a food drive.

Best places to work: BRANDYWINE GLOBAL INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT

Philadelphia | 195 employees | 4th among organizations with 100 to 499 employees

Brandywine Global Investment Management LLC takes many approaches “to create cohesion and cooperation,” said Adam Spector, a managing director and director of marketing, sales and client services.

There are “lunch-and-learn” sessions, in which senior executives discuss areas of expertise. “We want our people to understand how we work,” Mr. Spector said. “In money management, your competitive advantage leaves the building every night.”

There are quarterly lunches, where employees gather to celebrate anything from Valentine's Day to the opening of the football season. In addition to fostering camaraderie, Mr. Spector said, it's a good excuse to eat two local delicacies — cheesesteaks and soft pretzels.

And there is the “mud run,” an obstacle course event “to encourage interaction” among employees, Mr. Spector said.

The common theme is they are managed by a volunteer group of employees, using an annual budget from Brandywine, explained Jennifer Mollman, director of global human resources. That committee supervises a “jeans days” every other Friday in which jeans-clad employees must make a charitable contribution, which the company matches. The charities are selected by employees.

Brandywine is run like a partnership, even though it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Legg Mason (LM). “We strive for consensus,” said Mr. Spector, a 16-year veteran and one of nine managing directors on the executive board. “We encourage debate.”

The management style is highlighted by some employees responding to Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management survey.” It's a flat organization in which management is approachable,” one employee wrote. “The size of the company allows for everyone's voice to be heard,” another wrote.

Mr. Spector and Ms. Mollman said one of the best recruiting tools is referrals from existing employees. Ms. Mollman noted employees who make a successful referral get a $3,000 bonus.

And Brandywine takes extra steps to keep employees. For example, when it moved its headquarters to Philadelphia from Wilmington, Del., in 2006, executives realized it could be a hardship for the 25% to 30% of employees who had lived in, or south of, the Wilmington area.

“For some, it was going to be a tough commute, so we made a nine-year financial commitment to them,” he explained. Brandywine pays the commuting costs and additional expenses related to the headquarters relocation. It also covers the differences in taxes for these employees.

Making it easier to get to work is enhanced by the firm's willingness to let employees get the work done to fit special circumstances — from allowing flexible hours to agreeing to redesign a group's workspace because the employees said the new design would make them more productive.

“Working from home doesn't require forms in triplicate or approval from human resources,” Mr. Spector said. “It's a discussion between the employee and the manager.”