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Managing to excel in odd economic times

September 26, 2019

These are strange times for the econony, nowhere more than in Connecticut.

The state remains far and away the nation’s richest and unemployment levels here, as in the nation, are at or near record lows. Quality of life surveys remain solid for Connecticut, especially in health and education. Even the most pessimistic business surveys show rising numbers of companies showing profits.

Winning employers in the Hearst Connecticut Top Workplaces contest of 2019 exemplify and feed the continued strength of the state and national economies. For many, especially expanding companies such as Indeed (3rd place large employers category) and Colony Grill Development (6th place midsize), the challenge is finding people.

And yet, Connecticut remains a slow-growth location and many experts fear a recession in 2020 or 2021. The state is just emerging, we hope, from a fiscal crisis that has lasted for 20 years with litttle abatement, and overall job creation has been sluggish since the Great Recession.

The common thread for successful companies navigating these waters is workplace excellence. Winning organizations, whether for-profit or nonprofit, large, midsize or small, will tell you there’s no formula for treating employees well but there is a culture. It’s about listening, respect, teamwork and offering opportunities.

At Berkshire Hathaway Home Services New England Properties (1st place large for the second consecutive year), that means flexibility and top-notch technology support at the 22 local real estate sales locations in the three-county area covered by Hearst Connecticut.

Those counties are Fairfield, New Haven and Litchfield. See page for an explanation of how the list was made.

This year’s winner in the midsize division, like Berkshire Hathaway, is a giant, publicly traded company, United Rentals Inc. With about 100 people in its Stamford global headquarters, United Rentals will tell you executives spent a lot of time listening to the people at the branch locations, including one nearby right in Stamford.

And of course, at these larger companies, opportunities for advancement must be real at all levels.

The Hearst Connecticut small-company winner, the Southfield Center for Development in Darien and Wilton, focuses on behavioral health with fewer than 40 employees — and the byword is collaboration. That means working together with a long list of area school systems and community groups. And it means employees joining forces with each other for a team approach that meets their own needs at Southfield in addition to the main goal of client services.

Southfield comes in at No. 1 as a first-time member of the Hearst Connecticut Top Workplaces list. And its executive director, Chris Bogart, finished in the No. 1 spot in our Top Leadership award, based on responses from his colleagues.

Maybe your employer isn’t on the list and belongs here. Click on www.topworkplaces.com/nominate/hearstct/ to get a head start on 2020. Or, if your workplace isn’t up to speed just yet, land a link or a hard copy of this section on youre boss’s inbox or desk.

Dan Haar is associate editor and columnist at Hearst Connecticut Media, and editor of Top Workplaces