Top large workplace Alliance Data treats all employees like leaders
Offering a clear career advancement path helps big customer care company keep workers for the long haul
Alliance Data Retail Services’ Elisha Mendoza, left, a customer care associate, and Jordan Kraus, a customer care supervisor, decorate a colleague’s desk to celebrate her birthday. The colleague was gone for the day, but they hoped to surprise her when she came to work the next day. The Westminster company took the No. 1 spot in this year’s top workplaces survey. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)
Alliance Data Retail Services employees need look no further than the Westminster office’s senior director of operations to understand why senior managers are always visible and approachable.
Cindy Zhivotovsky started working for the company 20 years ago as a frontline associate.
“I grew up with the company,” she says. “I like to use myself as an example for the success of growth and development.
“We treat all our associates from front line to senior leaders as leaders. We ask them to own and be accountable for what they do.”
The company, which runs branded credit programs to help businesses increase sales and customer loyalty, employs 738 associates at its Westminster customer care center.
Alliance Data moved up from No. 3 among large companies in 2015 to take the top spot in this year’s top workplaces survey.
Alliance Data offers flexible hours. Benefits include paid time off, tuition reimbursement, an employee stock purchase plan and 401(k) plans. It also offers Weight Watchers onsite and a smoking-cessation program.
About 165 employees work from home, which helps the company keep its commitment to work-life balance, but also helps the company continue to grow. Employees come into the office at least once a quarter to reconnect with other associates and managers.
Training for career development and advancement is ongoing, either in classroom training or from a library of courses available to all employees.
“I get the opportunity to take advantage of my growth and development. I can express my ideas and I feel comfortable doing so,” wrote one employee. “I am trusted to make my own decisions, and that made me fall in love with the company from Day One.”
But it’s the management team that many employees single out for praise. Alliance Data earned a Special Award in this year’s Top Workplaces survey for its clued-in managers. Employees said managers take the time to know their names and communicate with them.
“I’m impressed with how in tune they are with what is happening at all levels,” one employee wrote. “Our executive committee emphasizes that it’s the associates that make the difference.”
Zhivotovsky says senior leaders are out on the floor talking to associates all the time.
“We reinforce to our leaders that we are here because of our front line,” she says. “We need to be listening to feedback and taking action. We build those relationships from Day One.”
Committees made up of senior managers and frontline associates meet to review information gathered from engagement surveys and put together action plans to make improvements on such issues as work-life balance.
“Even though there are a lot of people here, they take the time to learn your name, your progress and make sure you feel acknowledged and appreciated,” an employee wrote.
The other companies in the top five large workplaces are:
No. 2: Edward Jones: Employees at Edward Jones say the financial services firm gives them the support they need to do their jobs but also the autonomy to serve their clients’ best interests.
“I can focus on serving my clients backed up by the very best support teams in the industry,” an employee wrote. “I have independence, flexibility and can come and go as I please. I am recognized and appreciated by the firm and my peers, and I totally control what my income is. The leadership team exhibits the highest level of integrity and totally support my efforts to always do the right thing for my clients.”
Edward Jones has 722 employees in 326 offices throughout Colorado. All associates are eligible to become partners and share in the firm’s revenues.
The firm offers compressed work weeks, telecommuting, job sharing and unpaid leave. Health care benefits include premium discounts if employees quit smoking or take measures to lower their blood pressure or cholesterol. Edward Jones also self-funds medical care so it can override provider decisions, order coverage or pay for expensive treatments.
No. 3: Fidelity Investments: Fidelity Investments expanded its presence in Colorado with the opening of its customer contact center in Greenwood Village in 2013.
Most of the company’s 720 employees are part of its customer contact center for its personal investing division.
Despite the pressures that come with rapid growth, employees praise the financial services and insurance company for its support of their personal as well as professional lives.
“I always feel as though everyone sincerely wants me to succeed. There is an unparalleled amount of support from both leadership and my peers. Leadership seems to truly understand that everyone has a life outside of work and they are very respectful of the work-life balance,” wrote an employee.
Among employee benefits, Fidelity Investments offers concierge services where employees can delegate tasks on their personal to-do lists, such as finding home-repair referrals, suggesting birthday gifts and planning vacations.
No. 4: USAA: USAA employees feel they are an integral part of the company’s mission to provide financial services to military personnel and their families.
“As a vet and longtime USAA member, I feel I can continue to help my military family by providing the top-notch service that I myself received while on active duty,” wrote one employee.
In 2015, USAA began a building renovation of the Colorado Springs campus, which employs about 1,650.
Benefits include flexible hours and an onsite child development center and an onsite fitness center, which will be available free to employees later this year. USAA also has an onsite cafeteria and offers a 50 percent discount on over 250 food items.
“I joined USAA because of the mission of the company. Every day we get to serve the very people who serve our country and keep us safe,” wrote one employee.
And as an added bonus: “The food in the cafeteria is amazing.”
No. 5 OppenheimerFunds: OppenheimerFunds employees give the company high marks for work-life flexibility as well as opportunities for growth. The company received a Special Award for how well it supports that flexibility.
“This allows their employees to be able to focus more knowing they have the support and flexibility to deal with issues that may arise. It can cause a lot of stress in a person when a company is not willing to work with their employees,” wrote one employee.
An OppenheimerFunds employee resource group that aims to help women achieve their professional goals hosted its first leadership conference last year. The company also held “Oppenheimer’s Got Talent” and sent 40 employees to Costa Rica as part of its work with a nonprofit organization that sends volunteers to global communities in need.
“I love my job because of the people I work with and because I feel challenged each day. My leadership team is very supportive. They tell me when I’m doing well and give helpful feedback when I can improve,” an employee wrote.