Fermilab named one of the Chicago area’s best places to work

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For the second year in a row, the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory has earned a spot on the list of best places to work in the Chicago area.

The Michigan-based National Association for Business Resources announced the 2007 winners of the “101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” at an August banquet in Oak Brook.

“Being named a ‘Best and Brightest’ company is a powerful recruitment tool in the drive to attract and retain exceptional employees,” said Jennifer Kluge, NABR president. “These are companies that work with imagination and conviction to create organizational value and business results through their policies and best practices in human resource management. We are honored to recognize their efforts.”

The honor came as little surprise to Kay Van Vreede, Fermilab head of Workforce Development and Resources.

“The laboratory offers our employees good benefits, an onsite daycare, a new-jobs database for relocated spouses, a daily electronic newsletter and onsite research seminars. These programs are ones that some companies are just starting to look at,” Van Vreede said. “We offer a family atmosphere where we care about the welfare of our employees.”

For a fee, the laboratory also offers onsite programs such as a fitness center, housing for visiting scientists and arts and lecture series. The public also can attend many of the arts and recreation programs.

Fermilab has 1,950 employees. It was the first DOE laboratory in the nation to offer onsite daycare. Recent programs added to further improve the laboratory’s goal of reaching a healthy work-life balance include child care for school holidays, a room for nursing mothers and the ability to donate vacation time to sick co-workers needing more time off.

“It is very important to me that we continue to look at improving services as well as to offer new ones,” Van Vreede said.

Simply having a wealth of benefits wasn’t enough to win Fermilab a place on the best list. The NABR randomly surveyed 10 percent of Fermilab staff and requested Van Vreede answer 35 pages of questions on the laboratory’s policies and practices. An independent research firm evaluated the more than 500 nominated companies on nine categories: communication among employers and employees, actions to improve the local community, compensation and benefits, diversity, employee development, the level to which employees feel meaningfully connected to their jobs, retention, recruitment and work-life balance.

Fermilab first won the award in 2006 after being nominated by the Valley Industrial Association. This year the nominator’s name was not released to the laboratory.

“People love working at Fermilab. There is enormous pride in working for an organization with an international reputation. We offer extensive conventional benefits as well as many not found at other organizations,” Van Vreede said.

Making the laboratory a better place to work translates into better job candidates and a turn-over rate hovering around 3 percent, Van Vreede added. That keeps training costs down and results in high productivity levels. A recent internal laboratory survey found most employees said they were proud of where they work.

“People are proud to work here and I think that translates into dedication,” Van Vreede said. “The lab is a community. It is not just a place where people work, but where they can bring their families, they can socialize. The lab can be included in every facet of your life, not just one.”

A complete list of winners is available here.

About Fermilab
Fermilab is a Department of Energy Office of Science national laboratory operated under contract by the Fermi Research Alliance, LLC. The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the nation and helps ensure U.S. world leadership across a broad range of scientific disciplines.

About NABR
The National Association for Business Resources advocates and represents small and medium-sized businesses throughout the United States. For more information about NABR and its offerings, please visit www.nationalbiz.org or call 1-866-321-1822.