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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: Philadelphia Insurance Cos.

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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: Philadelphia Insurance Cos.

At Bala Cynwyd, Pa.-based Philadelphia Insurance Cos., the commitment to a high-quality workplace is part of what Robert D. O'Leary, the company's president and CEO, sees as a simple formula for success.

“We had a consultant come in last year,” Mr. O'Leary said. “He said the secret to being a good company is very easy. You want to be a company that everyone wants to do business with, and you want to be a company everybody wants to work for.”

Philadelphia Insurance Cos. — or PHLY — provides insurance coverage to more than 100 niche business markets. It has more than 1,500 employees in 45 offices across the United States. In 2008, PHLY became a member of the Tokio Marine Group.

Open communication is an important element of the PHLY workplace. “I ask people all the time what do we need to do better,” Mr. O'Leary said. “I get some great ideas because they're doing the jobs every day; I'm not.”

PHLY has an open-door policy under which anyone at any level of the company can request a meeting with any member of senior management.

The company holds regular companywide and department-level town hall meetings so senior management can update employees on PHLY results and other aspects of the business. Each of those meetings ends with a question-and-answer session where employees can ask questions of the senior management.

There's also a CEO suggestion box displayed prominently on the company's intranet site. “We answer every one of those suggestions,” Mr. O'Leary said. “If we can't do something, we explain to them why we can't do it.”

There's another element of communications that's extremely important at PHLY, according to Mr. O'Leary: “I think saying thank you to your employees is extremely important.”

Mr. O'Leary, who became president and CEO in February, said PHLY also seeks to create an atmosphere of trust in the workplace. “When I first came in here, I said anyone who's doing any kind of project that's designed to show somebody doing something wrong, we're going to eliminate that,” he said. “We trust our employees.”

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Laura Boylan, PHLY's assistant vice president for human resources, said the company's goal of “continuous improvement” across all aspects of the insurer's business includes the quality of the workplace. The company values feedback from employee engagement surveys, and programs like Best Places to Work in Insurance “are hugely important to us,” she said. “We probe deeper and do focus groups with our employees around the results.”

PHLY looks for opportunities to provide programs and benefits that are valued by employees, Ms. Boylan said. Among those programs and benefits are various employee training and development efforts, health and wellness incentives, a company book club, and a GREENPHLY initiative to help improve the local environment.

“We have a huge push toward community service,” Ms. Boylan said, and the company provides all employees a paid day each year to participate in some sort of community service activity.

“I think we treat our employees very holistically,” Ms. Boylan said. “It's not just about the job they do for the company, but how do we give back to the employees.”