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Charles Schwab Investment Management

Charles Schwab Investment Management employees celebrate their fundraising success prior to the 2016 San Francisco Heart Walk.

Working hard and playing hard plus a collaborative environment gives workers tools they need to flourish

Fifth place, managers with 100 to 499 employees

At Charles Schwab Investment Management Inc., the firm's culture is its “secret sauce,” says Marie Chandoha, president and CEO.

“Employees want to be in an environment where they can learn and grow, where they can work hard, but also have fun in the work environment,” she said. “We really try to focus on creating that great culture for our employees. “

The San Francisco-based firm, a subsidiary of Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., is a first-time winner of Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management award. It stresses a collaborative environment where even senior leaders have an open-door policy. And quarterly town hall meetings let employees, some 285, keep track of company developments and voice their opinions.

“It's important for employees to understand where we're heading,” said Ms. Chandoha. “I call that our North Star so we're all rolling in the same direction.”

Employees are also encouraged to express appreciation for each other through “high-five” Post-Its shaped like hands left on co-workers' computers or desks, she said.

Both the San Francisco and Denver offices, the two largest in the firm, have “fun committees.” Ms. Chandoha says the Denver office organizes an annual barbeque cooking competition. For the Olympics in 2014, San Francisco employees got a chance to learn how to curl at an Oakland curling center.

Ms. Chandoha says many workers also participate in volunteer activities. San Francisco employees recently raised money to get 100 backpacks filled with school supplies for disadvantaged children.

Employees filling out the BPTW survey gave glowing reviews. “You can tell that senior leadership takes in interest in you not just as an employee but as a person with interests outside of work,” one employee said.

“I enjoy how well employees are treated and recognized within the organization, saying "thank you' and "well done' goes a long way."'

This article originally appeared in the December 12, 2016 print issue as, "Charles Schwab Investment Management".