USAA: U.S. employees 1,000+

Serving those who have served means a lot to company’s employees
By Debra Gelbart

Helping employees thrive is as important to USAA as helping its customers. As a financial services company founded 93 years ago, USAA focuses exclusively on serving U.S. military members and their families. Many people are aware that the company provides insurance; USAA also offers banking, investment and retirement planning services.

“We change lives through exceptional member service and facilitation of financial security, and we also change the lives of our employees by offering them much more than a job,” said Canden Baker, executive director of human resources for USAA. About 3,400 employees work at the regional office in north Phoenix. “We help employees meet their own personal financial goals and help them balance their work and personal lives.”

Company benefits include flexible work schedules, 26 days every year of paid time off, health insurance immediately upon being hired, a 401K retirement plan with an 8 percent company match, onsite child care, a health clinic, private lactation rooms for nursing mothers and “energize and relax zones” throughout the campus to encourage stress reduction. “We are always looking to hire more people,” Baker said, “and we strive for at least 30 percent of our workforce to be veterans.”

The company is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workforce, explained Latasha Causey, site director for the Phoenix campus. “Strength comes from a variety of perspectives and beliefs,” she said.

Leadership development and training programs are key to helping employees grow in their profession, Causey said, adding that full-time employees, on average, are provided with 93 hours a year of on-site classroom or online training in their field. USAA also offers generous college tuition reimbursement, up to $5,250 a year toward an undergraduate degree and up to $10,000 a year for a graduate degree related to an employee’s job.

Yet working at USAA has a greater purpose. “Serving those who have served gives our employees an extra measure of devotion and commitment,” Baker said. “They’re part of a cause that’s larger than a paycheck.”


Hyatt Regency Phoenix: U.S. employees 100-999

Company has emphasized supporting associates for nearly four decades
By Debra Gelbart

Making associates feel valued and empowered has been a core principle for Hyatt Regency Phoenix ever since it opened in downtown Phoenix in 1976.

“We reward exceptional service—whether delivered to customers or other associates—with a quarterly luncheon and gifts,” said Thomas Delaney, the hotel’s general manager. The hotel emphasizes associate appreciation with a dedicated “People Brand” committee that focuses on celebrations, parties and awards for associates, Delaney said.

“Our associates know there is an open door policy all the way to my office. They can feel free to come in and talk with me or they can indicate their concern or question in writing through a ‘Talk with Tom’ box. I respond to every question or comment I receive from an associate. We want transparent communication.”

As a result of these efforts, he said, Hyatt Regency Phoenix has impressive associate retention rates. More than 10 percent of the hotel’s 300 associates have worked there for 26 years or longer. “Throughout our almost-39-year history, everyone who works here has taken tremendous pride in what we do,” Delaney said. “Our long-term associates still come to work every day with that attitude.”

All associates are encouraged to give back to the community through “Thrive,” the group that promotes hotel partnerships with local non-profits, including UMOM New Day Centers, a homeless shelter for families; St. Mary’s Food Bank; and Autism Speaks. The commitment to charity is underscored by a “wear jeans on Friday” program that allows associates to dress casually on Fridays if they put $5 toward more local charitable giving, Delaney said.

Associates can count on generous benefits, Delaney said, including tuition reimbursement up to $1,000 a year for any college course, vacation time up to four weeks depending on how long an associate has been with the company and 12 complimentary room nights a year at any Hyatt hotel in the company worldwide, along with 50 percent off food and beverage while the employee stays at the property.


Arizona Managing Partners: U.S. employees 25-99

Direct marketing company supports employees in many ways
By Debra Gelbart

Often, you’ll hear a CEO say that client satisfaction is a company’s most important asset. Arizona Managing Partners’ founder and president, Katie Castignetti, says her 35 employees are her top priority, because only if her team is happy “can we expect our clients to be happy.”

Her business, which she established at the beginning of 2012, focuses on acquiring and retaining customers through face-to-face marketing for some of the nation’s most well-known Fortune 100 corporations, including energy and telecommunications companies.
“Many of our clients are overjoyed by how positive and energetic our team members are,” Castignetti said.

To keep her employees happy, Castignetti provides generous bonuses and incentives for bringing in new customers or extending the relationship of an existing customer for the firm’s clients. “We have no caps or limits on incentives and bonuses,” she said. In addition
to cash, employees may be awarded prizes, such as custom Nike sneakers, iPads, the Apple Watch, fitness tracking systems or concert tickets.

The company also hosts weekly social events not only for the employees but for their families, too. Taco Tuesdays and Happy Hour Thursdays are regular events and the employees participate in a charity event once a month as well.

Arizona Managing Partners tailors health insurance benefits for each employee’s needs, rather than offering the same plan for everyone. “Health coverage provides peace of mind and helps employees stay healthy and happy,” she said.

The company reimburses employees taking college courses for the cost of their textbooks.
“We have different tiers of reimbursement, depending on an employee’s position and length of service,” Castignetti said.

Entry-level employees can receive bonuses that allow them to take time off when necessary. “We don’t want anyone struggling with being able to take time off when they need it,” she said.

“Our people are the reason we succeed,” Castignetti said. “My biggest goal is making sure they are able to achieve their goals.”


Discover Financial Services: Diversity

Company has long valued the power of inclusion and diversity
By Debra Gelbart

Discover Financial Services has been committed to a culturally diverse workforce since long before doing so was part of the public consciousness.

“I’ve been here 26 years and from the start, I consistently heard references to the value of diversity and inclusion,” said Steve Bayans, vice president of customer service and engagement at Discover’s Customer Care Center in north Phoenix, where 2,400 of the company’s 14,000 employees are based.

“Diversity means taking the opportunity to understand the differences that individuals bring to the workplace—the thoughts and ideas they bring based on their experiences and backgrounds,” he said. “We emphasize inclusion in our workforce, regardless of a team member’s disability, gender, sexual orientation, age or communication style. There is so much power in bringing individuals together who might think about business problems and solutions in different ways.”

Bayans said even at Discover, the concept of inclusion has expanded and evolved over time. In the past five or six years, the company has made an effort to hire more members of the LGBT community, for example. In 2012, the company incorporated workforce diversity into its strategic initiatives with the creation of 27 different Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that ensure awareness of various communities’ strengths. Five of those ERGs are located in the Phoenix region, he said, including groups led by African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, women and members of the LGBT community. “These ERGs have really allowed us to excel as a group and identify opportunities for enhanced interactions with customers and suppliers by considering their perspectives,” he said.

Collaboration is a key value within Discover Financial Services, Bayans said, and it’s demonstrated well among the ERGs. “The co-chairs of the ERGs come together to support what each ERG is doing to promote inclusion and diversity,” he said. “Valuing diversity opens the door for people with different perspectives to collaborate. And that, in turn, makes all of us stronger.”


Lovitt & Touché: Women’s Initiative

Insurance company mindful of work-life balance
By Debra Gelbart

Those fortunate enough to work for Lovitt & Touché, one of the oldest and largest independent insurance brokers in the United States, are empowered to get their work done largely on their own schedule. Due to the fact that three quarters of the company’s 185 employees are women, family-friendly policies are the rule, not the exception, said Shawn Ellis, vice president of human resources.

“We don’t worry about an employee leaving work early for a family event,” she said. “We know the work will get done. It doesn’t necessarily matter what time of day it’s completed.”

The company, established in 1911, operates from three locations—Tempe, Tucson and Las Vegas—and manages more than $400 million in total premiums.

Most employees have the option of telecommuting or flexible schedules, she said, adding that they also can count on generous paid time off. The minimum is three weeks annually of PTO but “some of our employees can take up to five weeks a year of paid time off, depending on how long they’ve been with us,” she said.

A private, comfortable lactation room is available and an independent child care center is located across the street from the Tempe office, Ellis said. “We encourage our employees to be career-driven and family-focused at the same time. We’ve found that a ’one-size-fits-all’ approach doesn’t work.”

Employees are offered low-premium health insurance. In addition to providing tuition assistance for many different college courses, Lovitt & Touché brings educational opportunities to its offices, so that employees can earn insurance-related professional designations, such as Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), onsite without having to worry about leaving the office and traveling to a classroom. The company pays for the instruction and pays the employee for time at work while receiving the instruction.

“We believe in doing what’s right for our employees,” Ellis said. “People who have joined our organization have encouraged others to work here, too, letting them know that the grass really is greener over here.”



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