One metric portfolio managers at Dana Investment Advisors Inc. look for in the firm's socially responsible equity strategy is how companies treat their employees and shareholders.
Employees who responded to the Pensions & Investments survey for Best Places to Work in Money Management lauded the firm's senior leaders for holding themselves to the same standards.
“The company is very generous to and supportive of all of its employees and their loved ones. They cover 100% of health-care (premiums), contribute 15% regularly to a profit-sharing pool and directly help family members,” one survey respondent wrote.
“It's like eating your own cooking,” said CEO Mark Mirsberger. “We better practice what we're seeing works for other companies.”
To further improve employees' well-being, every staff member received Jawbone wristbands last year. The fitness bands measure individuals' sleep and steps. Michael Stewart, executive vice president and chief compliance officer, said the bands serve as personal awareness/motivation tools.
“We are analytical people that are used to measuring things. It fit with that mindset,” said Mr. Stewart.
The firm does not keep track of the results, but they appear to be working.
“I have yet to see a doctor after receiving this fit band, which would have been three to six visits by now in any given year,” boasted one employee.
Aside from supportive senior management, employees also value the camaraderie among co-workers. “Everyone is mutually supportive and really enjoys working with each other,” one employee said.
“When you spend 40 to 50-plus hours (a week) with the same people you know when they are going through a stressful period. People are willing to step up and help,” said Joseph Veranth, chief investment officer and portfolio manager.
The money management industry is stressful by nature, and it is important employees recognize there is a team behind them, said Mr. Mirsberger.
“Everyone is competitive and you can put a lot of pressure even on yourself ... you can think you're bringing everyone down,” he said. “It's not your problem. It's our problem and our challenge.”
Mr. Veranth said keeping the attitude light on any given day helps to further mitigate stress. Employees will poke one another about their team loyalties, college or professional, he said. “When we get on our weekly calls with our Seattle person, it's all about the Green Bay, Seattle rivalry. Or we've got some people here from Chicago and they're still Bears fans, so we don't let them forget about that.”
Another contributor to overall employee satisfaction, and one that will have an increased focus over next 18 months, is the work environment.
Dana Investment Advisors is close to outgrowing its current space, and executives are planning a move. Ideally, the new office will have a modern layout with more open space, said Mr. Veranth.
He called the current setup “fairly conventional” and “a bit of a maze” with lots of walls.
Employees will have input on their individual workspaces just as they had in previous office renovations, Mr. Mirsberger said.
“Hopefully it will be somewhere people are proud of and feel they can do great work,” he said.