Each year Kentucky companies of all sizes complete the application process to compete to be one of the one hundred to make the Best Places to Work in Kentucky list. Winners from across the state are selected in three categories: small companies of 15-49 employees, medium companies of 150-499 employees and large companies consisting of more than 500 employees.
Those who win a place on the list are notified in January, but their ranking is not revealed until the annual celebration dinner held in April. The anticipation and excitement are electrifying, as employees wait to hear what their rank is. Only three can be named number one for each of the three categories.
What does it take to be included in the winner’s circle and declared a Best Place to Work in Kentucky? What do the first place winners have in common? A focus on building a high-trust work environment that values employees and engages them to drive better business outcomes. But there is more! Let’s hear it firsthand from this year’s champions.
Client Centric. Partnership. Volunteerism. Personal. Flexible
#1 Small Company Category - Ward, Hocker & Thornton PLLC
Louisville and Lexington based law firm Ward, Hocker & Thornton PLLC is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2019 and its first time being named number one on the Best Places to Work in Kentucky list. They are a regional civil litigation firm concentrating in insurance defense. Their 33 attorneys and 25 support staff understand the unique challenges their clients face and work to find the most cost-effective and timely solutions possible. Their touch extends to all 120 Kentucky counties and beyond—including Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee.
Administrative & Marketing Manager Allison Saxton believes the unique work environment at Ward, Hocker & Thornton PLLC has led them to success. “Law firms are not traditionally thought of as a great place to work because of the nature of the work. It can be stressful and demanding. Therefore, we believe the office environment can’t be that. We want our culture to support the employees while at work and in their family life as well. We are open door and everyone is accessible to everyone. Our partners are invested in the lives and families of each employee.”
The firm utilizes a top-notch compensation and benefits package to attract employees in tandem with out-of-the-box offerings. “Our culture helps us to retain them once they are in the door,” Saxton stated. Some of the unique employee benefits offered include participation in the Milk Stork Program for nursing moms and partnering with their 401k provider to bring a financial planner in house for one on one meetings, which spouses can also attend. Generous family leave is also offered which includes parental leave. Saxton added, “We give our employees the gift of time and encourage them to use it for themselves. An extra day of PTO they can use at their discretion – a‘treat yourself day.”
Ward, Hocker & Thornton has ranked on the top 100 list for six years, but this was their first year as number one in their division. “We were thrilled to win first place!” Saxton gushed. She went on to explain how valuable the employee feedback has been to them over their six years of placing on the list and their involvement with Best Places to Work Kentucky. “Each year we look at the metrics and survey responses closely.” From the survey they have improved areas such as team communication. Based off employee feedback on the survey, they now hold more team meetings and communicate more frequently to keep employees informed about the daily activities and status of the firm.
What are Ward, Hocker & Thornton PLLC employees saying?
“Employees are treated as people and not producers.”
“It allows me to grow individually and professionally by supporting me in the office and in the community.”
“I feel like I am working for good people and thus a good organization. We have a great benefits package and competitive compensation. I feel I am at a place where I can grow my career and better myself, making this more than just a job. I have great opportunities here.”
“Everyone is on a first-name basis, and all know that management has an open-door policy. This more casual approach is nice in a professional services office and, when coupled with competitive pay, a strong benefit package, and a history of 35 years of financial success, I believe most employees feel fairly secure and well-compensated.”
#1 Medium Company Category- L&N Federal Credit Union
Established in 1954 to serve the L&N railroad workers in Louisville, this first place champion is celebrating their 65th year of operation. L&N is a consecutively highly ranked Best Places to Work winner, moving from third place in 2018 to first place this year in the medium company category. They were named the firstplace winner in 2017 as well and have been ranked in the top ten four years running.
L&N has a great history and heritage. Their founding members started with a vision and a mission, and those guiding principles are still in place today. Over time, the credit union converted to a multi-group charter and expanded to serve various businesses throughout Kentucky, Southern Indiana and Tennessee. In 2004, the credit union changed to a community charter serving the Louisville Metro area, Southeast Kentucky, Northern Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Set up as a financial cooperative; credit unions profits are given back to individuals by way of better interest rates, lower fees, convenience services and resource programs. L&N Federal Credit Union has been known for providing exceptional products and services for its members. With assets over $1.3 billion dollars and an array of products and services, L&N can offer everything necessary for someone’s personal or business financial needs, including flexible mortgage and consumer loans, free online and mobile banking, free checking, business accounts and more. The L&N family is dedicated to serving over 90,000 members across our great Commonwealth. L&N has 19 branches and 270 team members located in Louisville, Southeast and Northern Kentucky and Southern Indiana. Their projected growth for the future is bright and they continue to expand their branch network to serve their members.
Vice-President of Human Resources Peggy O’Bryan explains why L&N has achieved over a half century of success. “We offer the best products and services to our members and create a family atmosphere for our employees. Our mission is to build permanent relationships, supported by our core values which are to bring people together and to enrich their quality of life.” This mission extends to our members and team members. Some of the most valued perks of employment at L&N include a high premium placed on work-life balance, a fantastic 401(k) Plan and employee celebration days that are held throughout the year. During team member celebration days, team members are treated to fun activities such as the Executive team deep frying turkeys for the team and giveaway prizes.
Each year, the Leadership Team reviews the employee survey results and looks for opportunities for improvement. O’Bryan states the information received on the employee survey also serves “as validation that we are on the right track.” She goes on to say; “We are always listening to our team and continually improve to reach our mission of building permanent relationships.” Team Members at L&N have additional opportunities to have their voices heard by way of an active employee suggestion system and annual internal department surveys.
With Kentucky unemployment at just 4%, L&N relies on their name and reputation within the communities they serve to recruit top talent along with offering a competitive salary and benefits package. Part of their recruitment strategy is to utilize a thorough interview process to find the right match for open positions. “We focus on the interview experience and a rapid but thorough process to make sure our applicant has a good experience when they apply for a job at L&N,” O’Bryan explained. Mapping the right person to the right job is critical to their success. Team members are also encouraged to take advantage of the credit union’s “promote from within” policy and to build a career at L&N. When someone joins the L&N team they typically stay for a long time. As an example, the Executive team has 250 years of combined experience, with many members of the team having worked their way up through the credit union.
What are L&N Federal Credit Union employees saying? “I feel fortunate working for a company that values their employees’ opinions.”
“Our mission statement of building permanent relationships is our overarching theme for our external culture and our internal culture.”
“I always feel appreciated.”
“The credit union respects the rest of my life, and we have a great work-life balance.”
“We support many charitable organizations. I love that through my work I can make a difference in my community.”
Family Excellence. Member focused. Welcoming. Family. Engaging
#1 Large Company Category- Edward Jones
Edward Jones has enjoyed 14 years of being ranked on the Best Places to Work in Kentucky list. This is their sixth time winning the coveted first place spot in the large company category. They were previously champions in 2006, 2008, 2015, 2016 and 2017. With 476 employees in Kentucky, Edward Jones associates enjoy flexible, family-friendly workplaces and gratifying work helping clients in the communities where they live and work. Their mission? To help serious, long-term individual investors achieve their financial goals by understanding their needs and implementing tailored solutions.
Senior Public Relations Specialist Alex Reed offers additional insight into the background of the organization and their secret to success in Kentucky. “We cater to individual investors exclusively, offering conservative long-term investing we believe will help clients reach their goals. We typically do business from offices with one financial advisor and one branch office administrator to offer convenient services based in communities where our clients live and work. We do business face-to-face because we believe we serve and understand clients better that way.”
The word “partnership” defines 33-year veteran Edward Jones Financial Advisor Carmack Kersey’s experience with the organization. “We work together; we help each other to create success. That brings out the best in everyone. We work to understand what is most important to our clients. Then we use an established process to build a personalized strategy to help them achieve their goals. We partner with them every step of the way to help keep them on track. This is very rewarding work and one of the reasons I am at Edward Jones.”
Edward Jones offers financial advisors the opportunity for upward mobility and to run their own branch in their neighborhood. They consistently receive recognition for being a flexible employer by offering a variety of work arrangements—from associates who work at home to financial advisors who are able to modify their schedules to meet their needs and the needs of their clients. Edward Jones Managing Partner Jim Weddle said “We are best able to meet the needs of our clients when we can also meet the worklife challenges of our associates.”
One of the most valued benefits of working at Edward Jones is the emphasis on community involvement and giving back. Each year Edward Jones proudly serves as a national presenting sponsor of the Alzheimer’s Association. They aligned with them to raise awareness, advance care, support and research efforts and share resources with those who are affected. Employees participate in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s across the country. They also are encouraged to be involved in their local neighborhoods. “When Edward Jones says we’re an active part of the communities we serve, we really mean it.”
They are also constantly growing and actively recruit new talent that show an aptitude for being client focused to join their team. Once hired, they partner with a mentor. “Mentoring is one of the most treasured traditions here at Edward Jones,” Explains Kersey. “We don’t compete with one another; we mentor so all can succeed.”
What are Edward Jones employees saying?
“I came for the opportunity and stayed for the culture.”
“I love the freedom that Edward Jones provides to build a successful business without sacrificing quality time with my family. At Edward Jones, they not only show you the path to achieve success, but they come alongside you to help and support you each step of the way.”
“Edward Jones provides the autonomy and the resources to deeply serve my clients and grow my business. The culture of “making it about others” is truly special and incredibly unique.”
Client Centric. Partnership. Volunteerism. Personal. Flexible
Best Places to Work in Kentucky is comprised of a survey and awards program dedicated to recognizing the Commonwealth’s best employers and providing employers with valuable employee feedback. Companies from across Kentucky enter the twopart survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in Kentucky. Twenty-five percent of the total evaluation is a review of the nominee’s employment practices, policies, philosophy and demographics. The remaining seventy-five percent of the evaluation consists of an employee experience survey. Best Companies Group manages the overall registration and survey process for Kentucky and analyzes the data to determine the final rankings.
A full list of the 2019 Best Places to Work winners can be found at bestplacestoworkky.com.