The glass doors and open floor plan at the midtown New York headquarters of ClearBridge Investments LLC contribute significantly to the firm's open environment. But the openness at ClearBridge goes beyond its architecture.
Terrence J. Murphy, CEO of ClearBridge, said the firm's investment teams are spread out across one floor so if portfolio managers need to talk to one another, they can walk over to the other desk and talk in person.
Mr. Murphy believes that face-to-face interaction not only fosters a collegial atmosphere and helps co-workers to get to know one another better, but also is a more effective and productive way to conduct business.
“We encourage people to walk around the office and talk with each other,” said Mr. Murphy. “We really want (our employees) to have these informal conversations in the hallway.”
Mr. Murphy likes the walk-and-talk system so much that late last year and in October, the three-time Best Places to Work winner organized walking challenges, giving employees pedometers to count their strides around the office. Winners received gift cards.
In the Best Places to Work in Money Management survey, many ClearBridge employees cited the people as one of the main reasons they enjoy working at the firm.
“My team is very supportive of each other and comes together when needed,” wrote one employee. “The overall attitude at ClearBridge is very positive from top to bottom.”
Another pointed out that ClearBridge provides a “relaxed working atmosphere, which actually fosters hard work.”
As part of fostering the open and collegial atmosphere, the Legg Mason affiliate hosts “lunch-and-learn” sessions, where sandwiches or pizza are served and team leaders take turns educating the rest of the company about their departments. This year, the sessions also featured outside speakers such as a nutritionist and a financial planner.
Mr. Murphy also conducts quarterly business reviews that update employees on the company's business and investment results, new business and marketing efforts. “The reviews keep employees in the loop about how the company is doing and help provide insight into how everyone is contributing to the company's success,” said William Schmitt, a managing director and head of human resources.
ClearBridge also offers its employees a fitness club reimbursement program and reimburses employees for expenses incurred in seeking to become chartered financial analysts.
Charity programs include donating gifts and clothing to more than 500 families via the Children's Aid Society, volunteering in the American Heart Association Wall Street Run & Heart Walk and participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.