14 Great Places to Work
What Oklahoma companies are doing to attract and retain employees in today's competitive work environment
by Dayna Avery, Rhonda Cavis and Gretchen Mullen
(Published in the Oklahoma Business Monthly)

The Employee Puzzle
Positioning the right people in the jobs that are right for them
By Bob Bloss

(Published in Rough Notes Magazine, September 2001)

14 Great Places to Work
What Oklahoma companies are doing to attract and retain employees in today's competitive work environment
by Dayna Avery, Rhonda Cavis and Gretchen Mullen

In today's labor environment, employees are looking for more than a comprehensive benefits package. Employees are searching for companies that go the extra mile, showing appreciation and understanding. Employees want a company they can trust.

At the same time, business owners and managers are seeking creative solutions to attract and retain employees. The cost of replacing a good worker can be damaging to a company's bottom line.

We surveyed several Oklahoma companies to find out what they are doing to go beyond the norm in making their companies great places to work. We found a wide variety of techniques, from the office setting to reward systems to issues relating to corporate culture. These companies have set an example for others as to how to attract and keep the best of the best.

Chandler, Frates & Reitz

Chandler, Frates & Reitz (CFR) was formed by brothers Leonard and Paul Reitz in 1935 as the insurance arm of one of the most active real estate development firms in Tulsa. In 1976, Jack Allen, Jr., the current owner joined the firm. When Leonard Reitz retired in 1986, Allen purchased the firm and retained it's name. As CEO, Allen had a corporate vision for his company.

Allen decided he wanted to create a corporate culture that would inspire employees to achieve maximum potential, both professionally and individually. The atmosphere would be full of fun, excitement and energy- a place where new ideas would flourish. "We ask our people to spend 40 hours or more each week away from their families and other interests," says Allen. "It seems only logical to enhance this experience with a corporate culture that give people a good feeling about belonging."

By 1986, CFR had 12 employees and $6 million in written premium. Asking what it would take to be 10 times that size, the company decided to simply start acting like it was already at those levels of production. If anything, by visualizing and doing so, the employees couldn't help but work more effectively and efficiently.

As part of creating its environment, CFR offers a variety of unique company benefits including an on-site gym and fitness facility, summer hours that include every other Friday afternoon off, monthly bonuses based on revenue growth and development and educational opportunities. In addition, a Fan Dancer of the Month is chosen by co-workers, and the company recognizes his or her contributions with a gold medal, flowers delivered each week for the month and either a gift of $50 or a half day off during that month.

"It just makes sense to offer extra benefits to attract and retain great employees," says Allen, who believes the company's competitive advantage is the talent it attracts and retains. Today, CFR is one of the leading independent agencies in the southwest, with approximately 70 employees and producers and writing approximately $100 million of property, casualty and group health insurance premium.