Great Places to Work: Verizon Communications, Inc.

Verizon believes in fostering its assets—from the technologies it produces to the people who develop and apply those technologies.

Verizon Communications Inc.
Principal NJ locations: Basking Ridge and Newark
NJ employees: 18,000
Chief executive: Ivan Seidenberg
Who they are: A global telecommunication service provider
What we love: Training programs, tuition assistance, family-friendly policies, and commitment to diversity

Dennis Bone started his career with Verizon in 1979 as an outside plant engineer. Shinnying his way up the corporate ladder, Bone has risen to become president of Verizon New Jersey. It’s the kind of career path encouraged by Verizon, which has 235,000 employees worldwide.

Verizon believes in fostering its assets—from the technologies it produces to the people who develop and apply those technologies. “On a day-to-day basis, we work in a very performance-driven culture and hold ourselves accountable to do the jobs we have to do,” says Bone, a resident of Madison. This work ethic is instilled through the company’s employee training and mentoring programs, including skills training for current employees (with more than 1,000 courses available online), and mentoring and leadership development programs to aid growth. Bone, who also serves as a mentor, notes that Verizon employees clocked 11.7 million hours in training last year alone.

The company also supports employees’ educational endeavors through VZ TAP (Verizon Tuition Assistance Program). In 2008, 29,100 employees took advantage of the program, which paid close to $118 million in financial aid. “Tuition reimbursement is offered at 100 percent to encourage employees to further their education, better themselves, and create greater opportunities within the company,” says Bone, who credits some of his success to attending Rutgers University at night (under VZ TAP) to earn his MBA in economics and finance.

This personalized approach to its employees is also seen in Verizons’s family-friendly benefit plans. In addition to providing flexible maternity/adoption leave for up to 12 months for certain employees and a “$10 baby program” (a one-time $10 co-pay for a first ob-gyn visit, with the rest of the fees paid by the company), Verizon also acknowledges its employees’ busy schedules by offering flextime, compressed work weeks, telecommuting, job sharing, and part-time work.

“It’s important for us that our employees have families while still contributing to the company,” Bone says. “After all, we created these technological capabilities for the public—broadband, webinars, video conferencing. It only makes sense that our employees would use [them] to work efficiently from their homes.”

Diversity is another high priority. In 2008, the global company hired more than 16,200 entry-level employees. Of those, 45 percent were minorities and more than 48 percent were women. My Backfill, a 2008 initiative, specifically identifies mid-level minorities and women who show potential as candidates for greater leadership.

While Verizon continues to recruit top talent, Bone says that the hiring process has become more selective due to the current economy. “Because we had significant hiring over the past three years while building the FiOS Network, we have needed to tighten our belts.”

However, he remains optimistic. “You have to invest in people, compensation, training, and benefits that make this a place where people want to work and want to do a good job,” says Bone. “It’s part of our DNA as a company.”

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