AEW employees rallied to raise nearly $50,000 for The One Fund Boston following the Boston marathon bombings.

Best places to work: AEW CAPITAL MANAGEMENT

Boston | About 250 employees | 4th (tie) among alternatives managers | Two-time winner

Talented. Intelligent. Motivated.

Those are just a few of the words used by employees at AEW Capital Management to describe their co-workers.

For the second year in a row, real estate manager AEW was ranked by Pensions & Investments as one of the Best Places to Work in Money Management. And employees overwhelmingly cited “people” as the best thing about the organization.

“It's a firm full of smart people that do a good job, but they enjoy doing it so the environment is fun spirited,” said one employee. Another noted “I enjoy working with my co-workers and clients. I love what I do, and the company allows me to have a good balance between family and work.”

CEO Jeff Furber said it starts with the firm's four core values: think as one firm; embrace change; be proud of yourself and AEW; and work hard and have fun.

“We hire the right people, put them in the right place, and delegate the authority. Our folks take it from there: They know what they need to do, they're accountable and they really take pride in their work,” he said.

Employees agree. One said, “We do an excellent job for our clients and don't look for a gold medal; we are a fiduciary and we know what that means.”

Steve Corkin, managing director and head of investor relations, said the company tries to hire not just the best and brightest, but also those with outside interests they can share with their co-workers. “We've created an environment that makes people want to work,” he said. “One of the ways we've done that is to create a culture of cooperation, communication and information sharing.”

AEW holds two firmwide meetings a year. “We do our best to make them light and fun, and there usually are a lot of laughs,” Mr. Furber said. The meetings celebrate successes, “but we also share failures, and we think that's important.”

Mr. Corkin said senior management is involved in every aspect of the business,

An employee noted that “the flat operating structure allows for easy access to senior management who take the time to get to know employees personally and support their professional development,” while another said “senior management always seems concerned that things are going well in both (work and personal) aspects of your life.”

It's not all work though. Earlier this year, the company's Halloween party was a reality TV-themed contest. The winning team did a “Dancing With the Stars” routine. Said one employee: “We work hard and we have fun. We're all amazing dancers!”

Employees also laud AEW's benefits, which include subsidized parking and reimbursements for public transit and taxis. But the most celebrated seems to be the company gym and the cafeteria, Ciao.

“When people are eating together and working out together, it creates an environment where they become less like co-workers. People create bonds and become friends, and that's important,” Mr. Furber said.

Messrs. Furber and Corkin debated the question of the most popular item on Ciao's menu, narrowing it down to either the ginger soy glazed salmon or the meatball sub.

Another valued benefit was AEW's charitable contributions program, where employees can pick causes close to their heart and the company matches contributions.

Never was the program more important than earlier this year, when employees rallied to raise nearly $50,000 for The One Fund Boston following the Boston marathon bombings.

No AEW employees or family members were injured during the April 15 bombings, but Mr. Furber said, “One of our buildings was a crime scene, and we couldn't get into it for over a week.

“It really hit close to home.”