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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2014: Burnham Benefits Insurance Services Inc.

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Individuality and diversity are embraced at Burnham Benefits Insurance Services Inc., from how employees are encouraged to solve problems on the job to how the company celebrates birthdays and other milestones.

Catie Rutledge, an account executive for Irvine, California-based Burnham, said she and her colleagues are allowed to use their diverse set of strengths “to think outside the box and bounce ideas off of one another.”

Burnham's staff of nearly 60 employees is “happy and excited about their individual career path as well as the trajectory of the team,” Ms. Rutledge said. “Our clients see this and enjoy working with us because of it.”

Burnham birthdays are celebrated by allowing employees to choose festivities that match their personalities. Past office parties have included wine tastings, coffee stands and mariachi bands.

In order to better communicate with clients from numerous cultures, Burnham has recruited a diverse talent base that includes employees who speak multiple languages, including Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Russian. The company encourages employees to learn about each other's cultures through celebrations of their backgrounds or holidays, such as celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

President and CEO Kristen Allison said the company strives to provide an environment for employees that allows them to feel accepted, valued and able to build a future with Burnham.

“It's a culture of inclusiveness, acceptance (and) healthy-minded individuals,” Ms. Allison said. “I know it sounds so simple, but it gives the ability for someone to come here out of college and grow into a partner. Really, the sky is the limit.”

In addition to Burnham's commitment to diversity, the company offers a number of resources to help workers take care of their families. This includes initiatives that help workers care for aging parents, such as flexible work schedules and an eldercare assistance program that can provide such services as transportation to medical appointments, help with finding care facilities and counseling to support employees who are caring for their parents.

Ms. Allison said such policies let employees know that Burnham supports them and trusts them to keep doing good work — something she said she thinks inspires long-term loyalty and boosts morale among the company's staff.

“Everyone has their own things going on with their lives, and if we allow them the flexibility to really take care of what's important in their personal life, it really comes back to us in our professional life,” she said.