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Careful assessment discovers best places


The 33 companies recognized as Business Insurance's 2009 Best Places to Work in Insurance earned that distinction based on in-depth assessment of workplace benefits, policies and practices, and evaluation of employees' engagement and satisfaction.

The effort that resulted in this first-ever Best Places to Work in Insurance was a joint project of Business Insurance and the Harrisburg, Pa.-based Best Companies Group, and was open to all publicly or privately held insurers, agents and brokers with at least 25 employees working in the United States and serving the commercial lines market.

All 33 of the companies recognized this year are on the list because they demonstrated a level of excellence distinguishing them as among an elite group of employers who've created high-quality workplaces that encourage employees to thrive in a work environment they can love.

Business Insurance engaged in this project in conjunction with Best Companies Group, an independent workplace excellence research firm that manages 35 other regional and industry programs in the United States and Canada that managed registration, conducted the surveys, evaluated the data and ultimately selected the firms that made the cut.

The assessment was a two-part process. Part one—responsible for 75% of a company's score—involved a confidential 76-question Employee Engagement & Satisfaction Survey, used to evaluate employees' workplace experience and the company culture. The second part—responsible for 25% of a company's score—was an employer questionnaire that collected information about companies' benefits, policies, practices and other information.

Using the two sets of data, BCG experts conducted an in-depth analysis of the strengths and opportunities at each company.

To make the Best Places to Work in Insurance list, each company had to demonstrate “a minimum standard of excellence,” said Peter B. Burke, BCG's president. “We do have our eyes set on an overall level of satisfaction that we want to see,” he said. “We're not ranking the best of the worst.”

Once BCG determined the companies that achieved that standard, the next step was a comparative analysis to determine how those companies ranked against one another.

For purposes of this year's evaluation, companies in the insurer and agents/brokers categories were divided into three subsets: small companies with 25 to 249 employees, medium-size employers with 250 to 999 employees, and large companies with 1,000 employees or more.

As part of the program, BCG provides participating companies a participation report detailing employees' workplace experience in eight categories: leadership and planning, corporate culture and communications, role satisfaction, work environment, relationship with supervisor, training and development, pay and benefits, and overall engagement.

Participating companies also can purchase an Employee Feedback Report from Best Companies Group. That report includes an employee demographic report, employee comments, and benchmarking data across other companies participating in the Best Places to Work in Insurance.

“The big thing is the benchmark,” Mr. Burke said. “Those companies, especially the ones that didn't make the list, can compare their results to the companies that did make the list and see what they need to do better.”

To be notified when information is available about the 2010 Best Places to Work in Insurance program, go to