November 11, 2013
2013 Top Workplaces

General Excellence: Hanover Insurance Group, Worcester

PHOTO/Matt VOLPINI
Brenda Morris, at left with microphone in left hand, leads an on-site fitness class at The Hanover.

VIEW: 2013 Top Workplaces General Excellence Winner - The Hanover Insurance Group

The Hanover Insurance Group knows the value people can bring to a business, which is why the Worcester-based property and casualty insurer has ramped up its workforce investments over the past 10 years.

" 'Great people make great companies' is our mantra," said Maribeth Bearfield, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. "We are so proud to be regarded as a place where the best people can work."

Hanover has 5,000 global employees, with 4,200 in its 30 U.S. locations and about 800 in London (after its 2011 acquisition of Chaucer Holdings), she said. Its two largest facilities are in Howell, Mich., and its Worcester headquarters, which total 1,850 employees.

At each site, three main priorities come into play, she said: Innovative products, so it's really a place where the best people want to work; being a world-class work environment, so employees see it as an opportunity and take advantage of working there; and a robust employee benefits program, so workers can provide long-term financial security for themselves and their families, Bearfield said.

Some of those employee benefits include flexible work schedules, tuition assistance, company outings and onsite farmers' markets, dry cleaning and banking.

Four years ago, The Hanover, at 440 Lincoln St. in Worcester, added an on-site medical clinic, fully staffed with a licensed registered nurse and a licensed nurse practitioner, Bearfield said. Employees can be seen for various ailments throughout the day. "If you hurt your ankle in a softball game over the weekend you can get it checked out" instead of leaving work for a doctor visit, said Michael Buckley, vice president of corporate communications.

Prescriptions can be written, lab orders handled, and free flu shots administered at the clinic, Bearfield said.

"The clinics can do whatever any other doctor's office can do," said Peter Dupell, The Hanover's assistant vice president of benefits. "With medical reform, it helps us stand out. No co-pay and no appointments necessary. You'll get in."

Along with the clinics come supporting amenities such as wellness coaching, smoking cessation programs and risk assessment. "Even our cafeteria works through the clinic," said Bearfield. Employees are not only offered healthy menu options, but are rewarded for making smart meal choices, she said, with online shopping, trips and merchandise among the prizes.

Part of this two-year-old rewards program is also rolled into use of the on-site fitness center, she said. But there is a $20 charge per month to join, and Bearfield said that's by design. "Our theory is that if you pay for it you'll use it," he said. Employee health plans also offer reimbursements for other centers, which still earn reward points. Hanover health plans have reimbursements for other centers, and employees earn reward points for joining those as well.

The Hanover teams up with a wide range of groups to improve communities it calls home. Last year, for example, the company contributed $1.4 million to United Way, mainly from employee contributions, with 83 percent employee involvement.

In Worcester, for instance, The Hanover is a major supporter of the Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, a college readiness program in the Worcester Public Schools. The program helps primarily first-generation college students realize their potential, said Bearfield, teaching skills such as note taking and the Socratic method of learning.

These community links and others also serve a professional development role, Bearfield said, providing opportunities for skill advancement. Employees are encouraged to serve on nonprofit boards in their communities and are exposed to networking and teambuilding, such as when employees pitch in to build a playground, she said. "Maybe it's someone who needs help in public speaking — they could be in a position where they do more of that," she said.

Bearfield said the company has never had to search for volunteers for charitable endeavors. "We hire people who think beyond themselves; it's part of our culture," she said.

HONORABLE MENTION

Fallon Community Health Plan, Worcester

FCHP, which took this year's honors for Education, Training & Career Development, also scored high in Innovative Benefit Programs.

Reliant Medical Group, Worcester

Last year's General Excellence winner and an "honorable mention" this year for Innovative Benefit Programs, Reliant also honors top performers with quarterly and annual awards.

Read more

Work And Workers: As Not Seen On TV

Employee Health & Wellness: Chitika

Innovative Benefit Programs: The Training Associates, Westborough

Employee Rewards & Recognition: World Energy Solutions, Worcester

Education, Training & Career Development: Fallon Community Health Plan

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