For many entrepreneurial companies, doing deals and making money takes precedence over employee satisfaction. A few years ago, that was certainly the case at Place Properties.

Things have changed at the student housing manager and developer. In 2003, the company put a stronger focus on people to go to the next level as it continued to grow. In response, the company concentrated on improving the work experience for its employees. The most important piece: Putting their people first, which means tuition reimbursements, more career development opportunities, employee events (including a Christmas party and picnics), community events, and employee recognition.

“The company is growing, and they encourage employees to get as involved as possible to help the company grow, which for career-minded, ambitious employees is a wonderful thing,” says Trevor C. Tollett, the Place Properties development associate who nominated his workplace for this story. “It encourages growth on a personal and corporate level, and it encourages an entrepreneurial mentality while balancing a corporate structure.”

PEOPLE FIRST: Place wants work to be fun and challenging. In addition to a strong mentorship program and a spirit of open communication, Place offers lots of little individual incentives that both provide motivation and recognition for jobs well done. Employees both in the field and the corporate office can receive awards for their work, including rewards for service that get as high as a $250 gift certificate when an associate hits five years.

There are lots of social events as well. Place does happy hours, a catered luncheon, pumpkin carving contests, a tailgate party where employees wear college T-shirts and sweatshirts, a flip-flop Friday breakfast (which also features Chick-fil-A biscuits, an annual dessert contest, and a lot of community outreach efforts, including breast cancer walks and 5-K runs.

“We want to be a fun place to work where people can be empowered to make decisions and add value every day,” says Edward J. Wolff, chief administrative officer for the company. “Our mantra is to create the opportunity for every employee to be the best they can be. It's ultimately serving our employees to better serve our customers.”

Place Properties

  • Headquarters: Atlanta
  • Employees: 407
  • Turnover Rate: 27.7%