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Learn more about SFBJ's 2022 Best Places to Work honorees: Medium Companies

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed workers’ expectations regarding their jobs, desired benefits and their careers. It used to be that mostly higher-level employees could expect fully paid health insurance coverage, greater paid-time-off options, even on-site meals and gym memberships. Now, workers at all levels are benefitting.

And employers are increasingly going above and beyond those perks. Aware that the flexible workplace not only works, but is expected, more employers have switched to full-time remote work. They’re also paying more attention to workers’ career growth, adding mentorship and coaching, free travel to industry conferences, higher tuition reimbursement, and an overall focus on workers’ development.

They’re also offering more group events, team-building programs, travel and other perks to build a family-like culture among employees.

Such benefits are costly, and statistics show employee mobility amid the pandemic remains high. Recruiting and retaining top talent is still a struggle. This year’s Best Places to Work honorees are committed to giving their workers tangible, even emotional, reasons not to leave. As honorees also have shown, whether defining where people do their jobs or the spirit behind the employer, work isn’t a place. For many, it’s a family.

SFBJ’s Best Places to Work honors 45 companies in three categories: small (10-49 employees); medium (50-99 employees); and large (100+ employees).

The 2022 honorees were celebrated at a Feb. 17 luncheon at Signature Grand in Davie. The event was presented by Fifth Third Bank, with corporate sponsor Quantum Workplace and associate sponsor Corporate Benefit Partners.

No. 1: Northrop & Johnson

Northrop & Johnson staff participate in a beach cleanup. The pandemic has created challenges for many industries. What got successful companies through the storm were teams focused on the horizon. Northrop & Johnson was one of those companies.

Describing his Fort Lauderdale-based yacht brokerage as innovative, growth-minded and extraordinary, President Daniel Ziriakus also adds “family and fun” to the traits that permeate the team.

Each day starts with continental breakfast, and there are healthy and fun snacks throughout the day. The company has a biannual bonus structure to show employees their work is appreciated. It celebrates milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and births.

Brokers and staff are encouraged to advance their education and enhance their skills through company-provided access to seminars, courses and other learning programs. Weekly employee development meetings are open to all, and managers are always on the hunt for seminars and development courses to help employees. As a result, the company has found success in developing team members from within; all but one department head rose from lower-level positions within the organization.

Team-building activities keep morale high and build strong relationships outside of the office. Most of all, Northrop & Johnson is a flat organization, which empowers employees to think and act on their own. Ziriakus’ door is always open for any questions.

“When you are hired at Northrop & Johnson, you become a part of NoJo Nation, a global group of team members that spans countries, nationalities, languages and more,” he said. “Having the best people helps us to welcome in new clients and continue to retain our current incredible clients.”

No. 2: Origin Construction

Origin Construction

In 20 years, Origin Construction has built and transformed over 10 million square feet of commercial real estate projects that helped shape Florida’s future. However, to co-founder John Wood, building its brand at the hands of valued employees has driven the company’s success.

What do employees find when they arrive? It starts with an open-door policy that affords access to senior management, all of whom help mentor next-generation leaders on paths of career growth and development. Employees also have opportunities to work in different divisions, which provides them a chance to expand their skill set, grow within the business and become more well-rounded professionals.

The Miami-based company continuously invests in a culture to enhance the workplace experience for all team members. Origin pays for employees to join and stay involved in industry and business groups, along with charitable and community organizations. It pays for employees to gain Occupational Safety and Health Administration certifications, and for international employees to get their work visas and labor certifications.

Among the most popular perks, when employees reach their 10-year anniversary, they are given a luxury watch and are recognized at a companywide event.

Recognition as a Best Place to Work supports Origin’s referral and recruitment efforts and reduces already-low turnover, which minimizes the time spent training new employees on a recurrent basis. Bonus compensation tied to the company’s financial performance is a win-win for the employer and its employees.

“Origin offers limitless opportunities for career growth, approaches the business as a family with an entrepreneurial spirit, while competing head-to-head with some of the largest contractors in the market,” Wood said.

No. 3: The Estate Cos.

The Estate Cos.

Executives with The Estate Cos. in South Miami know their company’s success is tied directly to its employees. To deftly manage all phases of the real estate development life cycle in-house, managers have created a work environment that is nimble, flexible and collaborative across disciplines, “thus giving our employees exposure to opportunities they may not receive in other firms,” principal Jeffrey Ardizon said. “Simply put, our success as a company is dictated by our people. Our people we engage with on a day-to-day basis, who put forth passion and effort, are the most important reason we are successful,” he said.

Asked about its most popular perks, Ardizon admitted it varies by employee. Maybe it’s the “aggressive” vacation policy, as employees are encouraged to take time off to recharge; casual Fridays, when employees can express their personality through their fashion sense; the continual recognition for their efforts; or the culture of bonding. Most would agree it’s the annual company retreat to the Rut & Strut Ranch, owned by CEO and managing principal Roberto Suris. Employees ride horses, play volleyball and roast marshmallows by a fire. That’s where “open door” takes on new meaning. “Suffice it to say, not many CEOs “open the doors to their ranch and invite employees and their family to an all-inclusive day of resort-style activities, catered meals and live music,” Ardizon said. “Many of our employees remark that galloping through the woods on horseback is as freeing and invigorating a sensation as there is.” Maybe “invigorating” defines the company workplace, as well.

February 2022. South Florida Business Journal.


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