The CEO's presentation was low-tech - no snazzy touch-screen, no slide deck, not even a sales pitch. It consisted of Milano standing, congratulating patients for their perseverance and progress, and sitting down. The simple message lined up exactly with the biotech's most basic philosophy. "We're absolutely patient-focused," said Kristina Broadbelt, assistant director of public relations and advocacy.
All of ViroPharma's 200-and-growing employees - from top execs to scientists to support staff - stay the course by participating in disease education, community activities, patient advocacy and "lunch and learns," regular midday opportunities to meet patients to eat, talk and get to know each other. Imagine that.
What employees said: "Great company doing the right things for patients. Excellent products. Patient focused."
"There is expansion and growth in new therapeutic areas thus bringing unmet assistance to our patients (first and foremost) [and] also to ourselves by providing personal and professional growth."
"I am proud that ViroPharma strives to enhance others' lives."
Meaningfulness: My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful.
YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School
Teachers, it's often said, have the world's most important jobs. Of course, important doesn't mean easy or gratifying. After all, you teach a kid, the kid leaves, and you're left wondering what's become of him or her.
Things are different at 20-year-old YouthBuild Charter. There, teachers' rewards aren't just abundant, they're also nearly immediate. Every 12 months, YouthBuild's staff shepherds a new group of 210 high-school dropouts, ages 18 to 21, through a rigorous program of academic, vocational, and community learning. The experience culminates in professional certifications and diplomas for 75 percent of students, and a renewed sense of purpose all around.
"Every year, you see the students walk at graduation, students that came in a year ago and now are very different people," said communications associate Kristin Forbriger. Again, such gratification doesn't come easily, but it does come fairly quickly, which, in turn gives workers the never-ending opportunities to improve the school itself.
What employees said: "The most rewarding part of my job is helping kids in disenfranchised communities to dream and achieve."
"I love helping students that society has given up on."
"At YouthBuild, students feel a part of something. Oh yes. We do make a change in their lives."
Opportunities: I am happy with my career opportunities at this company.
You'd think it'd be enough just being able to work for the Eagles. "How many times have I heard the words dream job?" asked senior vice president of communications Rob Zeiger, who ditched the corporate world to work for the Birds 10 months ago.
But the relatively small organization (fewer than 200 work in the NovaCare Center) doesn't stop at fulfilling just one of its employees' fantasies. The Eagles want their people to dream big, think big and grow beyond their original job descriptions.
In fact, 52 of the organization's current full-timers - including the current directors of event operations and media relations - got their starts as Eagles interns. "We're very progressive and forward-thinking," said human resources director Kristie Pappal, "just by nature of people wanting to be involved in different projects or different groups, people have that opportunity."
Added Zeiger, "If you're the sort who likes to participate, boy, do we have a job for you."
What employees said: "I feel like this [organization] is a true meritocracy. ... If I continue to prove myself, I will be rewarded with upward advancement both in salary and job responsibilities."
"Upper management challenges employees not just to look at best practices, but also to be the best at what we do. This philosophy breeds an environment with endless career opportunities."
"I have the room to implement my ideas and have them put into practice."
Clued-in senior management: Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company.
Wise money management. You'd think it'd be common among financial companies. But if the last few years are any indication, it's not.
This smallish, 43-year-old Wyncote firm is a notable exception. Founded and run by a family that believes in careful financial planning, operating without debt, and keeping employees informed and happy, Lincoln didn't lay off a single worker as the recession came and went.
"We're just smart in what we spend," said human resources generalist Kristin Maas. When the firm recently acquired Ohio-based Capital Analysts Incorporated, a unit of Western & Southern, it paid by check. The modernized old Bell Atlantic warehouse the business calls home is owned, not leased.
Higher-ups here understand what employees want: Open communications, macro-managing, solid benefits, generous profit sharing, and plenty of celebrations of the day-to-day, from doughnuts on Mardi Gras to Rita's water ice on the first day of spring. "That's why employees like it here. That's why employees stay here forever," said Mass, "We employ a lot of very good people - and it starts at the top."
What employees said: "Management is flexible, willing to listen, and driven to make Lincoln the best company possible for investors and employees."
"I am very impressed with the senior managers' energy, commitment to the company, and dedication to the people who comprise the workforce."
Work/life flexibility: I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life.
Treatment Research Institute
The 61 employees of this Old City-based nonprofit do some serious work. In their groundbreaking research on addiction, TRI's staffers work with families, advise adolescents, go to drug court, and write reports that affect lives.
So the institute's flexible policies on working from home and switching up schedules are integral to not just the well-being of its staff, but also of the people who benefit from their work. That many employees live within walking distance of work, and participate in the office's bowling and kickball teams? Just icing on the work/life cake.
What employees said: "I really enjoy that I can leave my work at the office and have a great work/life balance."
"My manager is flexible when I have personal obligations."
"They treat us really well (benefits package, time off, flexible time, work parties ...)."
Training: I get the formal training I want for my career.
CPR classes. First Aid training. Workshops on safety techniques, effective interventions, leadership development and management. Hands-on, over-and-above coursework is a part of the day-to-day of the nearly 900 employees of SPIN, a 40-year-old nonprofit that serves locals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism.
CEO Kathy Brown-McHale called training her organization's "core responsibility." She said many of her employees begin their jobs with high school diplomas and use SPIN's resources to earn college degrees while still working full-time. The idea? A good education always benefits SPIN's clients.
She said, "People that come to us for services and support are always changing, so we need to keep up with them, in order to do that we need to be continually learning, growing and teaching."
What employees said: "CPR, first aid, PD training - I know with the training I've learned here, I will save someone."
"I've been able to take college courses using tuition reimbursement."
"We have an awesome training department. Our annual trainings and management workshops are very helpful."