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Four Baltimore-area companies among nation's best workplaces

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Four companies in the Baltimore area are among the best places to work in the nation, according to a list released Thursday.

Edward Jones, FutureCare, Northwestern Mutual and the Community College of Baltimore County made the annual National Top Workplaces for 2012, a list of the top 150 compiled by WorkplaceDynamics, a Philadelphia-based employee survey provider and consulting firm.

WorkplaceDynamics, which works with media partners, including The Baltimore Sun, to produce local top workplace lists, polled more than 1 million workers from 872 companies with 1,000 or more employees to create the national list. Rankings are based on a set of 22 questions.

"The scale of the survey means that we have a real snapshot of what is happening in corporate America," said Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics, in a statement. "Too often, companies focus on perks such as free cappuccino, rock-climbing walls, and nap rooms," but "companies that set a clear direction for the future, execute well and bring real meaning to work are the healthiest."

Edward Jones, a financial services firm with 77 Baltimore-area workers, ranked 16th in the national survey. FutureCare, a Pasadena-based operator of skilled nursing centers with more than 2,700 Maryland workers, ranked 30th. Northwestern Mutual, a financial services and insurance firm, ranked 70th, while the Community College of Baltimore County came in 101st.

In the Baltimore top workplaces list, published in December by The Sun, FutureCare, a private, family-owned company, topped the list in the large employer category. Company CEO and president Gary Attman said he believes the company has created a congenial climate that helps to produce great work. The company also offers professional training, paid for by the company, and opportunities for advancement.

"Everyone is on a first-name basis throughout the company," Attman said. "The leadership team gets out there personally on a regular basis to meet with everyone in the company. It's important to listen to what people are saying."

Attman said that in the depths of the recession, the company had created an emergency fund for employees who needed extra help and had nowhere else to turn.

"We wanted them to turn to us, and they appreciated that," he said.

Online mortgage lender Quicken Loans topped the national list, with employees noting it puts their ideas to work and is committed to efficiency, the survey showed. The Container Store came in second and Anadarko Petroleum Corp. third. Other top workplaces included FedEx, Whole Foods Market, Microsoft and Ernst & Young. Research found real estate, construction and hospitality firms among the highest-scoring and government, utilities and education employers among the lowest-scoring.

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com

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