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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2014: Philadelphia Insurance Cos.

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It's as simple as walking the walk, says Philadelphia Insurance Cos. President and CEO Robert L. O'Leary on why his company was selected as one of Business Insurance's Best Places to Work in Insurance for 2014.

“We don't just talk the talk,” he said. “We try to do what's right for everybody, and they respond in a positive manner. It's that simple.”

Philadelphia Insurance Cos., known in the industry as PHLY, provides insurance coverage to more than 100 niche business markets out of 48 offices nationwide. Headquartered in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, it has 1,590 employees split up between the main office and satellite locations.

In recent years, catering to employees' needs and desires has meant more flexible work schedules that include part-time and semi-retired opportunities, building an on-site fitness club at the headquarters location, where about 50% of the staff works, health club reimbursements for off-site employees and a robust menu of community-involvement opportunities.

For Bill Procopio, a corporate communications manager based in Bala Cynwyd, that translates into a company that promotes wellness in body and spirit. “One of things that attracted me to PHLY is the culture, the community involvement and social responsibility, community outreach, and volunteering,” he said. “We are the insurer for a lot of nonprofits, so for us it's natural to be a part of giving back.”

Philadelphia Insurance partners with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to sponsor a variety of athletic events, where in many cases employees partner with challenged athletes to compete as a team.

Employees also volunteer for community nonprofits such as Special Olympics and Ronald McDonald House; a team of 20 employees participated in the 2014 Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House Plane Pull and raised $3,382 for the charity.

In celebration of Earth Day, employees joined The Nature Conservancy for a full day of volunteering at the Chrome Barrens Preserve in Oxford, Pennsylvania. Also in 2014, a group of 22 employees volunteered at Cradles to Crayons, an organization that helps underprivileged children, by helping package a week's worth of clothing for 75 children.

To keep the momentum, the insurer provides its employees paid time off to volunteer.

Another plus is the company's focus on wellness, Mr. Procopio said. The firm subsidizes gym memberships and provides times for lunchtime workouts. Teambuilding events include softball games, 5K races, triathlons and golf outings, and Weight Watchers and smoking cessation programs are available to all employees.

Flexible work options are also a major benefit. Jason Copus, underwriting supervisor in the Leawood, Kansas, office, said most of the nine people on his team work from home most of the time, and many of them work a compressed work week of four longer work days and three days off a week. “It makes working here more attractive,” he said.

Laura Boylan, associate vice president for human resources, said the company will continue to find better ways to improve workplace culture. “Our employees have a really strong voice and influence on the work environment here,” she said.