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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: Discovery Benefits Inc.

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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: Discovery Benefits Inc.

Employees at Discovery Benefits Inc. frequently refer to themselves as empowered, but that doesn't mean they throw the term around lightly.

The Fargo, N.D.-based benefits administration and claims management firm places a high value on fostering a culture of open communication between all levels of its staff, going so far as to formalize an “open-door” policy within its employee handbook.

“At a lot of companies, you don't typically walk through the halls and see your executive team talking to people right at their desks, knowing their name and taking an interest in what they're working on,” said Kenzie O'Shaughnessy, a senior lead program manager at the company's Fargo headquarters. “You feel valued, and everyone is appreciated for what they can contribute, even if they're new, and that's helped us develop a lot of very strong individuals.”

“All the team members, from upper management on down — we have a common goal to become more efficient every day,” added Kirsten Stiening, a Fargo-based compliance analyst. “We're all empowered to look, create and share for those efficiencies, and everyone's ideas are valued equally.”

Discovery Benefits' commitment to supporting the free flow of ideas, strategies and solutions — from its entry-level staffers all the way up to its senior executives — is one of the many reasons the company has been named one of Business Insurance's Best Places to Work in Insurance for a fourth consecutive year.

“There's always a fear when it comes to new strategies about what happens if it doesn't work. But here, there's a willingness to try new things, and if it doesn't work, we can always change again,” said Rhonda Moser, a partner and integration executive at Discovery Benefits' Fargo home office. “There's no fear of failing here, as long as we're trying to do something helpful.”

In addition to its “open-door” policy when it comes to mapping out operational strategies, Discovery Benefits' employees said the company has invested a great deal of time and energy in their professional development. Employees are encouraged to enroll in the company's six-month leadership development program, job shadowing and cross-training arrangements, and an ongoing series of webinars covering topics such as improving com-munications, critical thinking and employee engagement.

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Another aspect of its workplace environment that employees said makes Discovery Benefits unique is the extent to which its Cultural Committee — comprising a rotating roster of 10 or so employees from varying departments — has helped dissolve many of the traditional social barriers of modern office life.

“So many times when I'm interviewing applicants, they're coming from a company where they only ever knew the four people that work in the cubicles around them, and they never really get outside of that,” Ms. Moser said. “That can wind up stifling their growth and prevents them from seeing other opportunities within the company. You establish a rapport with people from other teams that becomes valuable.”