Writing business

Competing for workers takes creativity

Being considered a “better place to work” by co-workers and employees is a plus for any business, no matter what the year. In the era of the “Great Resignation” it has become something else – a higher need, especially for employers asking people to take on more work.

Four employers with 500 or more employees in southern and western Connecticut have won the 2022 Hearst Connecticut Media Top Workplaces competition label, based on employee surveys conducted by Energage. Like many large companies, they spend a lot of time these days filling out their workforce roster.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties finished in first place, as it has done many times in the 12 years of the awards show, as the real estate brokerage benefited this year from a booming real estate market and the flexibility of having many independent contractors as agents. .

Bridgewater Associates came in at No. 2 and Gaylord Specialty Healthcare at No. 3, completing the same 1-2-3 ranking we saw in the 2020 awards. ALDI, the international grocery chain, a newcomer to Top Workplaces for Hearst Connecticut, completed the category.

Berkshire Hathaway has continued to be affected by labor market disruptions over the past year, CEO Candace Adams said. The company has been able to persevere largely thanks to the quality of its agents and back-office employees.

“We’ve seen quits over the past year on the employee side — you hear about ‘the big quit’ and people changing jobs,” Adams said. “But overall we were very lucky. We have great longevity and tenure, we have great people. I believe they are the best staff we have ever had in our head office; just very talented and knowledgeable people.

In an Ernst & Young survey of worker attitudes, flexibility was the top factor for workers considering new roles, slightly ahead of compensation. While job purpose and workplace culture ranked third among respondents, for “Gen Z” workers aged 27 or younger, this was a higher priority than compensation and almost consistent with flexibility.

Adams says Berkshire Hathaway considers flexibility and compensation in the company’s efforts to recruit and retain staff and agents, some of whom join the university and others from other companies or industries.

“If they’re younger you can leave for the money, but most agents will go for the culture and where they feel they have flexibility – that there’s inclusion, that we have, diversity, understanding of needs,” Adams said. “People with kids, moms and dads, don’t miss the kids’ events,” I said. Go to a game, don’t miss a teacher conference. They all know they can go and do what they have to do, and I think it’s important for them to have that flexibility.

ALDI also touts its advantages over other retailers in compensation, flexibility and culture. The company, with US headquarters in Batavia, Illinois, is one of the fastest growing grocery chains in the world with more than 160,000 employees.

#1: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties

Employees in the region: 705

Headquarters: Wallingford

#2: Bridgewater Associates

Employees in the region: 1,200

Headquarters: Westport

#3: Gaylord Specialist Healthcare

Employees in the region: 650

Headquarters: Wallingford


ALDI was included in Energage’s National Best Workplaces ranking this year – Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. tops this list – along with several other regional rankings.

Thanks to product storage innovations that allow ALDI to outfit stores with fewer staff, the company has been able to pass the savings on to customers. The company has 17 locations in the three counties covered by the Hearst Connecticut Awards – Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield.

Glassdoor reviewers praise the company for its camaraderie, pay and benefits — including opportunities to score overtime — though some warn the days can be trying to put boxes of products on shelves for a shift work of eight hours or more. ALDI is also quick to promote, they add, giving employees plenty of chances to add management experience to their CVs.

Bridgewater Associates is led by co-CEOs Nir Bar Dea and Mark Bertolini, the latter formerly CEO of Aetna. Together, the two are this year’s recipients of Hearst Connecticut Media’s Best Leadership Award for Great Employers in Best Workplaces.

Sarah Fass, Bridgewater’s chief human resources officer, told Hearst CTInsider that the shared role reflects the company’s philosophy of encouraging staff to exchange views to help each other and that the company excels.

“Our culture is built on our employees operating in a place where they feel comfortable expressing their ideas and engaging with what is true,” said Sarah Fass, Bridgewater’s chief human resources officer. “We have a lot of people participating in these conversations, and I think the co-CEO model is consistent with the notion of openness and transparency and learning from our mistakes.”

Bridgewater founder Ray Dalio regularly posts about management and personal philosophies on his LinkedIn page which has nearly 2.5 million followers. He’s spent much of the summer writing about how people are hardwired to succeed or repeat cycles below that, and what steps they can take.

“Be bold. There is always a better way possible,” Dalio wrote in July. “Your job is to find it and have the courage to follow it. What you think is achievable simply depends on what you know at the time. Once you start your pursuit, you will learn a lot, especially if you triangulate with others; paths you have never seen before will emerge.

Paul Schott contributed to this report.

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