These “cool companies” have implemented strategies that attract and retain young employees in a fun, supportive work environment, and they set an example for all businesses.
Mad * Pow, Portsmouth
Mad * Pow is “a design agency focused on improving the experiences people have with technology, companies, and each other” and has national clients like Google, ESPN, and Monster. In their application they referred to the atmosphere in their office as “fun and funky” describing flex time for powder (ski) days, surf lunches, charity work days, design contests, an annual lobster fest, and an annual pumpkin carving contest. They have standing desks, hammocks, comfy couches, education assistance, flex-time, “Summer Fridays” when the office closes at 3p, and employees are given FIVE paid days off per year to volunteer.
SilverTech is “a digital marketing agency that helps brands tell their stories in unique and meaningful ways.” They place significant emphasis on the relationships of members of the SilverTech team, treating each other as family, including trust, respect, helping each other succeed and grow their careers, but also, as they said, “while having an absurd amount of fun.” They have a casual dress code, book club, a variety of games throughout the office (arcade games, ping pong, foosball, a pool table, and more), team BBQs, spontaneous jam sessions, flexible scheduling, a “Culture Club” responsible for planning employee outings and events, a paid day off for your birthday, and as one employee said, “So many people at SilverTech are knowledgeable and passionate about their respective fields, and that passion is infectious.”
The Birchtree Center, Newington
The Birchtree Center is a nonprofit “that exists to promote independence, engaging relationships, and productive lives for children and youth with autism at home, at school, and in the community.” This year the Birchtree Center has had eight interns from NH; three high school students, three college students, one recent college graduate and one graduate student who serve as peer mentors to their students and assist with programming giving them hands-on experience and the opportunity to explore future careers in the autism field. They have a “good job” box where anyone can place notes about fellow employees that are read aloud at monthly all-staff meetings, they offer flexible scheduling, gym discounts, one paid day off annually to volunteer, will writing services, weekly in-house “bootcamp” classes, five weeks of paid vacation, and fully employer paid health and dental benefits.
When you are in business to provide the latest and greatest in communications, whether that be phone, Internet or TV, it makes sense to employ people adopting and desiring the most current trends. But Comcast doesn’t just hire people for what the company can get out of the deal. The company goes out of its way to make sure its young professional workforce feels valued. They include young professionals in decision making, spend a small fortune on training, offer four-day workweeks and telecommuting for some positions, and seek out employee feedback. They also pack a lot of punch with incentives and rewards from extra vacation days to prizes like iPads and TVs. The regional senior vice president says his employees are empowered.
The International Association of Privacy Professionals says they are smart, fun and get things done. The company, which is in the field of information privacy and data protection, has been in business for 12 years and boasts almost 50 employees. Of those, 61 percent are under 40. The president says he doesn’t draw lines between the personal and professional, and he makes sure that the work gets accomplished with smiles and a “nice” attitude.
Vital Design, Portsmouth
When it comes to investing in young professionals, it’s hard to beat Vital Design on vitality. Field trips to the beach and group workouts are just two of the perks at this Portsmouth creative agency. While all 14 employees are under 40, this company wasn’t always known for being cool. In fact, it used to be quite traditional. But the founders say they had an “a-hah” moment when a long-time employee left, citing the culture as a problem. They examined their set of rules and started incorporating flexibility along with barbecues and lawn games, and say the change has been successful.
H.E. Bergeron, North Conway
When it comes to investing in young professionals, it’s hard to beat H.E Bergeron Engineers in North Conway. Over the years, the company has funded the MBA degrees of five employees. It is also in the midst of a succession plan to transfer ownership of the company to three employees—all of them young professionals—with one more owner being added next year. In 2006, HEB created an Employee Stock Ownership Plan and transferred 30 percent of stock to employees. Employees also receive bonuses. Outside the office, the firm supports the community, granting employees two days of paid community service.
Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that gives iPads as Christmas gifts, breaks out play-doh during strategy sessions and provides camping chairs for holding meetings outside on nice days? For PixelMEDIA, a Web development company in Portsmouth, it’s all part of a work atmosphere designed to spark creativity and make people happy to come to the office. PixelMEDIA has flexible start times and a casual dress code; provides an X-Box, ping pong and guitars in the employee lounge; and financially supports employee participation in walks, runs and other athletic events for charity. On snow days, the company buys pizza for all employees who come to work. But it’s not all fun and games at PixelMEDIA. Staying up on the latest technology is critical for a company in the social media and technology field. In 2010, PixelMEDIA spent $40,000 on training and conferences and all employees have access to online software training. They also have a tiered bonus system based on meeting company goals.
St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua creates a workplace that balances fun with accountability and recognition. Young professionals at St. Joe’s are supported and encouraged from day one. A mentoring program pairs new employees with those with more experience. And employees looking to get a higher degree can receive up to $1,500 tuition reimbursement. The hospital pays over $300,000 a year for continuing education and workshops. The hospital also provides employees with opportunities to connect in healthy and fun ways, including partnering with iUGO, Nashua’s YP organization, on two kickball tournaments and one dodge ball tournament each year. The hospital claims that combination of fun and professional development appeals to young professionals, which make up 29 percent of the hospital’s 733 full-time employees.
BAE Systems, Nashua
Realizing that the average age of employees in the defense aerospace industry was 51, BAE Systems in Nashua launched a concerted effort to attract younger professionals. Part of the effort is an extensive summer intern program that helped the company find talent easier and helped to show students that BAE is a serious employer. In 2010, 36 percent of new hires were a direct result of that program. In order to retain those younger employees, BAE offers flexible work schedules, a leadership program and opportunities for career advancement and time off from one’s regular job to develop ideas in the company’s Innovation Center. BAE has made developing the next generation of engineers and workers its top priority.
Some of the methods this Manchester firm uses to attract young professionals include flexible schedules, tuition reimbursement and full company paid health care. They have a lounge complete with arcade games, ping-pong and darts, a company Segway and they host regular fun outings. Dyn even hosts a “Geek Week” every year, where employees can express their inner geek with hopes of being crowned the “Biggest Geek” at week’s end.