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<i>Business Insurance</i> recognizes 65 companies in 2012 Best Places to Work

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&lt;i&gt;Business Insurance&lt;/i&gt; recognizes 65 companies in 2012 Best Places to Work

A record 65 insurance industry companies are recognized in this year's Business Insurance Best Places to Work in Insurance program.

Best Places to Work is a joint effort of Business Insurance and the Harrisburg, Pa.-based Best Companies Group. The competition, which involves months of in-depth evaluation, is open to all publicly or privately held property/casualty insurers, group life/health insurers, retail agents and brokers, wholesale brokers/managing general agents, reinsurers, reinsurance brokers, benefits brokers and advisers, and claims managers serving the commercial insurance market with at least 25 employees in the United States.

What earns a company a place on the list of Best Places to Work in Insurance? A company has to create a work environment in which employees can thrive and enjoy doing so.

As we detail in profiles starting here, companies recognized this year offer traditional benefits such as bonuses and mentoring programs, and go the extra step to provide employees with less traditional benefits. Some recurrent themes are flexible hours and paternity leave. But these companies go beyond the expected, and offer such opportunities as biggest loser weight-loss challenges, raffles for charity and even on-site happy hours.

This is the fourth year for the Best Places to Work in Insurance program. Companies recognized this year range in size from 26 to 8,445 employees.

Best Companies Group, an independent workplace excellence research firm that manages other industry and regional programs in the United States and Canada, managed the registration process, conducted the surveys, evaluated the data and selected the firms chosen as Best Places to Work in Insurance.

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The assessment involved a two-part process. One part, responsible for 75% of a company's score, involved a confidential employee engagement and satisfaction survey, which was used to evaluate employees' workplace experience and the company's culture. The other part, which was responsible for the remaining 25%, consisted of an employer questionnaire, which collected information about each company's benefit programs, policies, practices and other general information.

Best Companies Group experts use the data to conduct an in-depth analysis of the strengths and opportunities at each company. Each company has to demonstrate a minimum standard of excellence to earn a spot on the list of Best Places to Work in Insurance. There is no automatic in: Even if a company is the only one registered in its category, it must meet the criteria. Best Companies Group's work also involves comparative analysis of the companies on the list.

Participation in the program is free, although participating companies can buy the BCG Employee Feedback Report summarizing the data collected in the employee survey process. In addition to the employee opinion, the report includes transcribed employee written comments, as well as the industry benchmarking data — which compares companies of similar size — from the participating companies.