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The No. 1 midsize place to work in IT: Ultimate Software

Beth Stackpole | June 13, 2017
This company’s “people-first” culture offers IT employees challenging assignments and family-friendly policies.

“It’s more than just paying for stuff—it’s taking care of your people and doing the right thing,” explains Rogers. “‘People first’ is much more than a tag line; it defines our culture.” 

Duygu (DJ) Yapar, 37, was so enamored by what she heard from friends who worked at Ultimate that she made a concerted effort to come on board. After two years of interviews for various positions, Yapar finally joined Ultimate in June 2016 as a business analyst, and so far, the work experience has met, maybe even exceeded her expectations, she says. 

Most impressive, according to Yapar, is a commitment to fostering work/life balance at Ultimate, which ranked No. 2 among all 100 Best Places for career development, and placed No. 2 as well for employee retention. While Yapar has been encouraged by management to pursue leadership training as a way of furthering her career, she’s also been able to take advantage of such perks as two paid service days to pursue her volunteering interests as well as the annual reimbursement for her kids’ swimming lessons and camps.

 

Open-door IT management

Eamonn Caufield, 55, grasped the significance of the Ultimate Software culture the minute he walked through the doors 11 years ago for a role as the director of software delivery.

In his previous experience, IT executive teams operated at arm’s length from staffers, prioritizing a highly regimented corporate atmosphere over individual focus, Caufield says. That wasn’t the case at Ultimate, where IT execs share office space with staffers, are highly accessible and shun red tape and office politics—a management style Caufield happily embraced as he rose up the management ranks. 

Now, as vice president of information services in charge of Ultimate’s 257-person internal-facing IT team, Caufield is committed to an open-door policy and radical transparency, devoting plenty of one-on-one time to every new hire and conducting quarterly reviews and more frequent all-hands meetings. 

“I don’t care if you’re cleaning toilets or managing a team, I get to know who everyone is,” says Caufield, who’s been in his latest post for four years. “I don’t want to be that guy who doesn’t know the people on the team.”

Caufield also places a heavy emphasis on hiring line managers committed to building collaborative teams, and he promotes team-building exercises like awards programs and social events. 

One such example is the IS Olympics, a set of games held regularly during lunch time to promote camaraderie, along with monthly off-site team-building events, including a recent corporate run where Ultimate sponsored 600 runners—the largest participating team. 

On the awards front, the company hosts the Ulti Spirit program, which mimics the Boy Scouts by doling out badges for professional and personal successes, along with the Ulti Bucks peer-recognition effort, which gives everyone in IT $50 a month to award to peers for outstanding work. “I’m a strong believer in a leader who is a great cheerleader for the team,” Caufield says. “I consider it a big part of my job to troll for successes and wins and publicize them internally.”

 

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