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February 17, 2017 Best Places to Work in Connecticut 2017

#1 Small/Medium Company Category: VLink

VLink employees work hard but they also like to have some fun. In their South Windsor office, employees have a chance to blow off some steam playing pool and pingpong. (Top photo) They also like to have fun celebrating birthdays.

VLink's commitment to its employees and the community is written directly into the company's mission statement, which is why the South Windsor-based IT firm has as good a reputation with its workers as it does with clients.

VLink's emphasis is placed on making a positive social and economic impact on the lives of employees, their families and the general community.

To that end, the company reaches out to several community factions, from the Red Cross to veteran's services, from pro-bono work to breast cancer awareness. Simply put, VLink employees are encouraged to lend a hand anywhere there is a need.

“Based on the work we do, we have a lot of skillsets that can be helpful. We have sharp people — attorneys, immigration specialists, technical people,” says Sharad Patney, CEO of VLink. “So we encourage our employees to identify nonprofits where they can apply those skills to volunteer, which they are allowed to do during regular work hours.”

Company leadership is also proud of VLink's investments in improving employees' knowledge and skillsets. VLink Academy was developed exactly for that purpose.

“VLink Academy training programs offer industry certifications, like project management, six sigma, and others. Employees can apply, then representative managers make the decision,” says Patney, who says fostering expertise in the workforce also generates elevated trust from clients and increased business development. “As a company, it's important for us to tell customers we know different areas. We gain more respect as a company.”

Patney adds that VLink Academy awarded 25 certifications last month, and is looking at 20 for this month, demonstrating the draw of the program.

“We have 200 employees around the country, and another 150 in India. They know the challenges our clients face — the pain our customers deal with every day,” says Patney. “As tech people, we encourage innovation to solve business industry problems.”

VLink staffers are motivated to come up with ideas they can run by senior leadership. If, after initial brainstorming, the idea seems viable, executives will green light the project, with the initial presenter taking ownership of it.

Accomplishments are also recognized within the company. At VLink's yearly company party, years of service awards are given to those who have been on staff for three years or longer.

In addition to professional support and recognition, VLink offers employees benefits such as paternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child, the inclusion of immediate family members at corporate events, and free or discounted tickets to local family entertainment or sporting events.

Understanding that their employees need flexibility to juggle busy lives, VLink gives staffers all the room they need.

“When it comes to work-life balance, we don't have a specific policy in place. We just let our employees make their own schedule,” says Patney. “They can have whatever flexibility they want, and we find that when given the responsibility to make their own decisions, it works well.”

The social life of a VLink employee is an enviable one as well, with opportunities to blow off steam via golf or hiking outings, nine-ball pool tournaments in the company game room, or team bowling events. Pingpong matches are a regular occurrence, and happy hours allow employees to kick back and socialize. To accommodate a diverse workforce, VLink recognizes various multi-cultural holidays in addition to American holidays.

Above all, VLink is known for attracting top talent. Their goal is to build and keep a staff that can provide high-value consultants, quality account management, client responsiveness, and an overall ease of doing business.

Read about the other Best Places to Work in CT 2017 winners.

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