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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2014: Woodruff-Sawyer & Co.

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Woodruff-Sawyer & Co. is a company that cares not only about its employees but its community as well.

For its workers, the San Francisco-based broker has a mentoring program, an annual outing at a San Francisco Giants baseball game and flexible work/life scheduling.

And for its community, it has an active social action program that permits its employees to participate on company time.

Perhaps most importantly, its 341 employees simply enjoy working there. Melody Silberstein, senior vice president of human resources in San Francisco, who has been at the broker for 13 years, says, “I'm here because I love this company. It is a nice company, where you just feel good about going to work.”

“What I like most about it is the leadership, where every person regardless of title and position rolls up their sleeves and works alongside you,” said Michelle Droz, vice president in employee benefits and president of the firm's social action C.A.R.E. — Community, Action, Responsibility, Enhancement — program, in San Francisco.

“We don't tend to go out and hire big egos,” Ms. Silberstein said. “There's nothing I would ask my team to do that I wouldn't do myself.”

“From our top leadership down to the folks on the floor doing the job day in and day out, everyone's voice is equally important. Everyone is heard,” said Laura Kearney, property/casualty practice manager in Woodruff-Sawyer's Irvine, California, office.

Ms. Droz said she is particularly passionate about the broker's C.A.R.E. program, which was created about seven years ago. It is about “a lot of people who want to do hands-on community service” and then motivate others to do the same, she said.

Programs in which C.A.R.E. has been active include San Francisco's food bank, a home for families that may have been victims of abuse, and the local leukemia and lymphoma society. “We try to stay much focused on San Francisco” as a firm that has been in the city almost 95 years, Ms. Droz said.

In addition to employees looking forward to the annual Giants outing, Halloween is a big event at the company, Ms. Droz said. It's “quite crazy,” she said. “Each department competes on a Halloween theme, and everyone goes in and votes on which department wins.” Some of the entries, she said, have been “pretty over the top.”

Woodruff-Sawyer also prides itself on its work/life balance, which includes the ability for many to work extra hours and then take every other Friday off.

“Nobody's asking to see the whites of their eyes for hours on end,” Ms. Silberstein said. Employees “feel they have the flexibility to be where they need to be when they need to be there,” whether it is to go to a school play or to care for a sick parent, so long as they meet job expectations, Ms. Silberstein said.

Beyond all of this, though, is the way its employees enjoy working together. “I've never worked in an organization that is as team-focused as this one, and where you can watch teams that just really love working together,” Ms. Silberstein said.