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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: Burnham Benefits Insurance Services Inc.

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Best Places to Work in Insurance 2013: Burnham Benefits Insurance Services Inc.

An open door and flexible work environment makes working at employee benefits brokerage Burnham Benefits Insurance Services Inc. special, its employees say.

“There are really no closed doors. Everyone has an equal voice. At the end of the day, the company really wants to know how everyone feels,” said Melanie Thomas, a senior vice president and partner in the company's Irvine, Calif., office.

That feeling of employee camaraderie is fueled in other ways. “When it is your birthday, you bring in something to share with a group. It might be lunch or breakfast. It is fun and special,” Ms. Thomas said.

And Burnham takes other steps to making the company a special place to work, says President Kristen Allison.

One of those steps is what Ms. Allison calls “hiring ahead of need.” For example, when several employees took maternity leave, they knew they could take the necessary time off and that their clients would continue to receive needed support from other Burnham staffers because new hires were added to take on the additional work in their absence.

“Employees know they can take three or four months off or whatever is the appropriate amount of time off,” Ms. Allison said.

Employees also know they will be given the resources they need to help clients. “Our passion is to do a great job. Employees know they can spend extra money to help clients. We want to be strategic and to do the right thing for our clients,” Ms. Allison said.

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Employees also can hold down different job functions simultaneously, giving them the ability to develop new expertise. “What people love here is that they are not slotted. We have hybrid roles, and I think that is unique. We want to give employees opportunities to go to different places in the organization,” Ms. Allison said.

Ms. Allison describes the company's home office as beautiful, noting that employees love the feeling they receive when they walk through the front door. “People are happy. They feel they are rewarded,” she said.

Employees agree. “The office environment includes floor-to-ceiling windows, significant plant life and surround-sound music providing a positive atmosphere in which to work,” an employee wrote in the Business Insurance Best Places to Work in Insurance survey.

Ms. Allison notes that stress can get in the way of employees being able to do their jobs, and the company does whatever possible to reduce it. Those efforts are appreciated by employees. “Senior management will often shut Burnham down early around holidays and at impromptu times — especially after busy times of the year — allowing employees to give some extra time off,” an employee wrote.