Best places to work: CLEARBRIDGE INVESTMENTS

New York | 176 employees | 1st among organizations with 100 to 499 employees | Two-time winner

Terrence Murphy, CEO of ClearBridge Investments LLC, thinks the greatest investments at a money management company are the ones made in employees.

“There are so many things that are important to people, but are not that expensive. It's a good ... investment in the long term,” said Mr. Murphy, who walks the floors of the glass-walled offices twice a day. “If you aren't challenging them and recognizing them as part of the constituents, and if you're not investing in those folks, it's going to have a negative effect.”

That belief in investing in employees is not just lip service. ClearBridge — which had $80.2 billion in assets under management as of Sept. 30 — is a second-time winner. But after ranking second last year among companies with 100 to 999 employees, management took the employee survey feedback and made an effort to improve in certain areas, such as its employee performance review process.

Benefits remain a big bonus for employees: ClearBridge offers tuition and fitness reimbursements, long-term compensation models and gift cards for work anniversaries. The company also hosts quarterly “lunch-and-learn” sessions, where team leaders take turns educating the rest of the company about their departments over sub sandwiches or pizza.

However, even with all the perks (and a prime office location in the New York Times building,) ClearBridge employees overwhelmingly cited their colleagues and the workplace environment as the top reasons it's a great place to work. One employee's top three reasons were: “the people, the people and the people.”

“It's a culture where we truly believe in hiring people that are both smart and passionate,” said Scott Glasser, co-chief investment officer. “There are a lot of smart people on Wall Street, but when you can combine that with passion, that's the type of employee we seek out.”

Part of the reason employees feel so comfortable is that many of them have been with the company for a long time: the average portfolio manager has 19 years of tenure at the firm, while client service staff has an average 12 years. The company itself has more than 45 years of history under different parents, most recently coming under Legg Mason (LM) Inc. (LM) in 2005.

Nonetheless, new employees are given a warm welcome to the ClearBridge family: Russell Mahland, chief marketing officer, said that when he first started more than a year ago, people expected him to have ideas and were excited and eager to hear them.

“When you join a group that's been together for so long, it's nice to hear,” Mr. Mahland said. “It made me feel a part of the team.”

Outside of work and team projects, extracurricular activities also help forge a bond between colleagues. An internal cheer squad, known as the “ClearBridge Brigade”, organizes events such as jeans day Friday fundraisers, ice cream socials, bowling nights, bake-offs, wine tastings and a spring softball league.

“There are lots of social activities, but what makes them a success is that the everyday work environment is very positive, so they consequently want to spend time together,” Mr. Mahland said.