Bank and hospice rank among best companies to work for in Colorado

Alpine Bank employees enjoy not only the paid vacations and federal holidays, stock ownership plan and health and dental insurance. They also enjoy less tangible benefits — the casual dress days, the family events and the way they’re encouraged to voice their opinions about operations.

At Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado, the employees who care for patients in turn receive care themselves in the form of benefits, flexibility and appreciation.

The bank and hospice organization tout the end result of such efforts, including loyalty and longevity. There’s also the recognition that comes from being ranked among the best companies to work for in Colorado.

Alpine Bank ranks second and Hospice & Palliative Care sixth among large companies with 250 employees or more in the latest listing of such companies.

The annual program is a collaborative effort of the Colorado State Council of the Society of Human Resource Management, ColoradoBiz magazine and, an online employment advertising service.

To participate in the program, companies pay to undergo anonymous employee surveys conducted by Modern Think, a workplace consulting firm.

Headquartered in Glenwood Springs, Alpine Bank employs a total of 520 people at 37 locations across Western Colorado.

While the No. 2 ranking in 2011 listing of best companies to work for in Colorado is its highest, Alpine bank has ranked among the top 10 for the past four years.

Sonya Foster, vice president of marketing, said the bank takes the ongoing happiness of its employees very seriously. “You are only as good as your people,” Foster said. “You’ve got to invest in them and you’ve got to care.”

To that end, Foster said Alpine Bank offers a lengthy list of benefits, starting with paid time off for vacations and 10 federal holidays; comprehensive medical, dental and vision coverage; and a stock ownership plan in which employees are fully vested after six years.

Employees receive additional financial incentives to the forms of bonuses for the overall performance of the bank, referrals for new hires and suggested improvements or changes that are implemented.

In addition to vacations and holidays, employees also receive paid time off to volunteer in schools or for other charitable organizations. In 2010, the bank paid for 14,000 hours of employee volunteer time, Foster said.

In addition to other health benefits, Alpine Bank offers a wellness program, assistance to quit smoking or lose weight, paid annual physical examinations and blood analysis and an employee assistance program with anonymous counseling.

Alpine Bank offers flexibility through varying workweeks, telecommuting and job sharing, Foster said.

Still other benefits offer everything from assistance to first-time homebuyers to interest-free loans for home computers to discounts on cellular telephones and sunglasses, Foster said.

The bank shows its appreciation to employees in other ways, too, Foster said, including a recognition program for longevity, family picnics and Christmas parties she described as “legendary.” Casual dress is allowed on Fridays and Saturdays as well as part of occasional fund-raisers.

Foster said the extensive benefits aren’t considered overhead, but rather an investment in happier employees who are more productive, deliver better customer service and remain with the bank.

Employees further contribute to the bank by serving on internal committees and are encouraged to voice their opinions about customer service and departmental operations, Foster said.

Hospice & Palliative Care employs a total of 286 people at facilities in Grand Junction as well as Delta, Montrose and Plateau Valley.

Christy Whitney, president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit organization, attributed the high ranking of Hospice on the 2011 listing to an organizational culture that emphasizes a mission of caring. “We believe that all great organizations motivate people through a passionate mission, autonomy to do the job and making sure people are educated to do the job in an expert way,” Whitney said.

“We also believe that in order to care for others, staff must feel cared about individually,” she added. “And we endeavor to do that — in policies, benefits, fairness and appreciation.”

Hospice & Palliative Care offers compressed workweeks, telecommuting and job sharing as well as mentoring and special events.

In addition to their other duties, employees play an important role at Hospice in serving on committees that address everything from health and safety to quality and wellness, Whitney said.

Such efforts not only make Hospice & Palliative Care a good place to work, but also help in recruiting new employees, she said. “Our goal is to have people work at Hospice who are aligned with our mission and standards. We believe that ‘good people beget good people’ and are grateful for the role our reputation plays in recruitment.”