Founder Mike Dana created a family-like atmosphere at Dana Investment Advisors Inc. more than 30 years ago, building his company on professional integrity and employee support.
CEO Mark Mirsberger said he has continued in that tradition since Mr. Dana retired a few years ago, creating a team environment and making sure the company doesn't operate under a “star system.”
“I make sure to hire excellent people from a character standpoint,” Mr. Mirsberger said. “It has enabled us to maintain that family feel.”
In Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management survey, Dana employees agreed. Respondents repeatedly said the best thing about working at Dana was the “family-oriented atmosphere” or “it is like a second family” while lauding the benefits the firm offers to its employees.
“I think the things that you would celebrate or congratulate others (for) in your family, we do in the workplace,” said Michael Stewart, chief compliance officer.
Mr. Mirsberger said the first thing Dana does every year in its budget is to cover 100% of employees' health-care premiums, while keeping deductibles low. It also provides a generous profit-sharing plan that has paid out 15% of compensation every year except 2009. Additional bonuses are given based on annual reviews.
“We always place an emphasis on doing everything we can for employees,” Mr. Mirsberger said.
As in any company, there are tiers of employees, Mr. Stewart said, but the only way for people to know whether they are walking into an executive's office is that the carpet is more worn in front of the executives' doors.
J. Joseph Veranth, chief investment officer, said Dana provides a collaborative environment. “Employees know they're involved with the success and failure in every product we develop,” Mr. Veranth said. “People are drawn to that because they want to be key people.”
“There is a culture of success shared by all employees,” echoed one employee's survey response.
Mr. Veranth said there is low turnover at Dana, with many long-time employees. However, the firm hired more people in their 30s about five to 10 years ago to bring in the next generation, with senior employees acting as mentors to them, he added.
Mr. Dana started the firm after working on Wall Street. He wanted to cultivate a family atmosphere without the bureaucratic levels that exist at larger firms, according to Mr. Mirsberger. He started bringing in treats or doughnuts for the weekly Monday morning staff meeting, a tradition that continues to this day.
In the past five years, the firm started offering job sharing, so parents can meet their family responsibility and still stay in the workforce, Mr. Stewart said.
It might be difficult to adjust to personal needs at other firms, but Dana is “exceptional” in helping employees through the “ability at the firm to foster a culture allowing people to be comfortable asking for help,” Mr. Stewart said.
Dana will often hold destination retreats, including a four-day trip to Napa Valley several years back that included strategic planning and wine tastings. It is a trip employees still talk about fondly today, Mr. Mirsberger said.
This year, the firm has initiated a charity drive every quarter where employees can wear jeans on Fridays if they participate.
“If you respect people and treat them well and fairly, you usually get that back,” Mr. Mirsberger noted. “You don't have to be a tough boss.”