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March 28, 2016 Best Places to Work in CT 2016

#1 Small/Medium Company Category: SMC Partners LLC

SMC Partners participated in an Empower Leadership Adventure Day (above top photo). After a BBQ lunch, teams worked together in a scavenger hunt and obstacle course. A group of SMC employees volunteered at the Special Olympics summer games. At the end of a month-long wellness challenge, SMC employees celebrated their success with a bowling party.

Patty Matthews is grateful to work at Hartford-based SMC Partners LLC.

“I always say I feel like I won the lottery when I joined,” said Matthews, marketing and human resources manager, who's been at SMC about 3 ½ years. “I really do think it is the best place to work. I feel so fortunate every day that I have a job like this.”

It's no wonder that SMC finished No. 1 in the Hartford Business Journal's “Best Places to Work in CT” small/medium company category after finishing No. 2 last year and No. 3 the year before that.

SMC bills itself as an information technology, business process, and human performance consulting company focused on health care, health insurance, and social services. It helps clients improve the quality of their services and grow their enterprises by designing, building and operating new administrative and care delivery capabilities and information technology applications, according to SMC's website.

Its work has included setting up insurers' claims system, helping primary care doctors use their electronic health records, working with social service groups to make their systems and processes more efficient, and setting up healthcare-related mobile applications.

For SMC employees, the positive reinforcement, teamwork, benefits, company culture, learning environment, and more, all contribute to a fulfilling environment.

Among SMC's benefits are unlimited sick time, employer-paid health plan, a $1,250 annual contribution to the employee's health savings account, four weeks' paid vacation to start, bonuses and profit-sharing, wellness challenges, flexible work hours, lunchtime yoga, company-paid registrations for out-of-office events like races in which the company participates, and mentoring and teaching programs. SMC also surveys its employees frequently for needs and suggestions and tailors programs appropriately.

Outside the office, SMC's community engagement includes donating case management software and professional services to help Community Solutions address the health and social needs in Hartford's North End; assisting nonprofit Chrysalis Center, which helps veterans, the homeless and those with substance-abuse issues, and doing food and gift drives for the center; and volunteering teachers and education content, and offering internships for students at Tech Foundry, a Springfield nonprofit helping that area's high school graduates enter the technology workforce.

SMC started in 2007 and has 43 employees. It's headed by Scott Cleary, who as co-founder, president and chief servant sets the tone for the company, Matthews said.

“We really do live our molecule,” she said referencing the company logo featuring four overlapping circles meant to represent nurtured families, fulfilled teammates, successful clients and servant leaders.

SMC owners Cleary and his wife, Jo, live that and it trickles down to everyone else, Matthews said.

The company is comprised of analysts, consultants, managers and directors on the business-process side and the technology side, she said.

Jeremy Klein, a senior technical analyst at SMC, joined the company about 1 ½ years ago as a business analyst. SMC has been a great place to work in his first job out of college and appreciates the mentoring he's received along the way.

“I found that SMC's really been supportive,” he said, citing mentors who have helped him in his new role.

“Everyone there is very supportive in asking for questions and trying to show us how to make sure that we're understanding everything that we're doing and just becoming better at what we do,” he said.

“ … SMC has been great … teaching me how to be professional and work in a professional work environment as well as growing my skills and just growing as a person as well.”

Matthews said each employee has a career counselor, which is like a formal mentoring program. Mentors meet with their counselees monthly, she said.

“They want to make sure that the employee or their counselee is happy, they're moving along their career path the way they want to,” Matthews said. And for employees who may be at client sites for long periods, it's a way to keep connected. “So we just need to make sure that we keep in touch and make sure that everybody's getting what they need to be successful.”

Steve Ruth, a director and six-year SMC staffer, said the company wants to ensure employees are fully nurtured.

He said Cleary treats people like family, which people appreciate.

Ruth also is impressed by the company's transparency, from the top down, from financial data to client prospects and more.

“We know a lot about the inner workings of really what goes on,” he said. “For some of the younger people, I think it gives a good idea of what it takes to run a business, to some extent.”

It's an openness not seen in a lot of organizations, Ruth said, but which contributes to employee loyalty and trust.

Read about the other Best Places to Work in CT 2016 winners.

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