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March 20, 2015 Best Places To Work In CT 2015

Cooperative Systems values every employee

The Summer 2014 Company Outing & Picnic let Cooperative Systems employees hang out together with their families.

At Windsor-based Cooperative Systems, all employees have a say in how the business operates.

“We're a technology company, and we're an ever-changing company in terms of what we do and how we do it because technology changes so frequently,” said Scott Spatz, vice president of sales and administration at Cooperative Systems, which provides IT support and cloud-computing services, business technology/strategy and design, and data backup. “Everyone has input into how we can best do what we do, better than our competition.”

President Bob DeLisa started the company with a partner in 1993, whom he has since split with. The company employs about 20 staff members. DeLisa learned his leadership style from his father, also named Bob DeLisa, who wrote the book, “The Unforgettable Boss: The Seven Fundamentals of Managing and Motivating.”

“I'm very into employee development – making the employee feel like this is not just a place to come to work – this is a place for me to get my career going,” DeLisa said. “That's a big part of my satisfaction. I'm proud when people go off to a career doing a job maybe even more technical than we do.”

Cooperative Systems recently implemented a new performance incentive program.

“We want to pay our staff for excellent performance and when the company is doing well in terms of from a financial perspective,” Spatz said. “The staff have the ability to share in that, both from an individual performance as well as the team they're on and the overall company performance.”

The company also offers a $2,000 stipend for employees for specific professional development.

Cooperative Systems allows employees flexibility when it comes to work-life balance. That means working from home on occasion if there are childcare or other issues.

In order to foster better communication among employees, Collaborative Systems also uses a special internal communications tool.

“Everyone has a different style of communication, (and) a different way of communicating with others,” Spatz said. “This is a tool we can all use to effectively work together and communicate together. We use that tool at every staff event to promote teamwork and the communications aspect of the company.”

The firm redesigned its office to create centers for engineers, sales, and help-desk employees, with a common table for collaboration.

New employees are given extensive training and are exposed to all aspects of the company. Jessica Dean, customer care coordinator, started working at Cooperative Systems in April and appreciated the flexibility and transparency.

“It's flexible, especially for me because I have kids,” Dean said. “I can work from home if I need to and not have to use any vacation days.”

Dean said the transition into her new job went smoothly.

“There's good communication,” she said. “Everyone's accessible and very receptive.”

The company regularly organizes outside-of-work outings, and employees are offered a company membership to a local golf club.

“We're very conscious of trying to have fun as a company and allowing staff to form relationships outside of the work environment,” Spatz said.

In addition, there are company-sponsored volunteering events, such as with Special Olympics. “We want to be doing more civic things, and giving back as a company,” Spatz said. DeLisa said he's delegated big responsibilities to key employees. It's preferable to micromanaging, as he learned from his father.

“You mentor them in the beginning – they crawl, walk, and then run,” he said. “When they're ready to run, you should work your way out of it.”

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