It's not just the daily yoga classes, the bimonthly after-work Milestone Mingles, the periodic Happy Hour for No Reason or the giant purple exercise balls employees might choose to sit on in the place of an office chair that have employees at L&B Realty Advisors LLP raving about their workplace. It's the way they feel connected and supported.
“The people here are amazing, and you couldn't find a better group to work with anywhere,” one employee wrote in response to Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management survey. “They really take care of all the employees and it makes it a great place to work. I am really proud of what I do for the company and every little thing plays a part in the big picture.”
Keeping employees feeling connected benefits L&B's business, too, noted G. Andrews Smith, managing partner and CEO. “Surprises and communication failures cost us money,” Mr. Smith said.
L&B management wants employees to feel connected and to know “others have your back.”
L&B executives also work hard to provide an environment for people to ask questions and raise concerns. For example, portfolio managers meet monthly for an hour to discuss issues with their portfolios. “In effect, the portfolio management team becomes an extension of the management committee,” which flattens the firm's management structure, Mr. Smith said.
“I am the CEO, and I would like to know that anyone on the management team and in the five-member management committee could take over if I get hit by a car, and I think it is the case here,” Mr. Smith said. “That wouldn't be the case if there's a bubble (around management). Bubbles can be popped.”
This was not always the case at L&B, he said.
Until 2005, the 50-year-old real estate firm was owned by a large offshore insurance company. The firm spun out in a management buyout. About a year after the management buyout, L&B distributed ownership to 15 key investment professionals.
“It was not sold, but given,” Mr. Smith stressed.
L&B management has the option to distribute additional ownership to those investment professionals or distribute ownership to additional partners, he said.
As part of the culture of staying connected, the firm sponsors a variety of events, said Holly Schneider, head of human resources.
It has had ice cream socials, hired snow-cone trucks and taken employees and their families to see the Texas Rangers baseball team play. It also hosts an annual holiday party. This year, the firm will host the event at Dave & Buster's “to eat and play video games together,” she said.
“There are also quarterly milestone meetings to go over the firm report card,” Ms. Schneider said. She said every year, Mr. Smith and other members of L&B's top management come up with goals; everyone attends the report card meetings to check on the progress.
“It's a lot of fun, and it's nice to check some things off the list,” Ms. Schneider said. “We eat a meal and celebrate our victories.”
In their survey responses, some employees mentioned the quarterly meetings. One said, “The management makes it a happy place to work with lots of "extra" fringe benefits. The quarterly meeting keep everyone `in the know' of current and long-range goals.”
And the strategy is working. In response to a question about one thing employees would improve about working at L&B, an employee stated, “I honestly don't know anything that would make my job better; I love it just the way it is.”