How Barnes & Thornburg Became One of Indiana's Best Places to Work

Barnes & Thornburg LLP is one of the largest and most respected law firms in Indiana, and the Indianapolis office has approximately 490 staff.  Barnes & Thornburg made the list of Best Places to Work in Indiana for the third time earlier this year. It was the second time in three years that the firm has been listed as the No. 1 large company in central Indiana.

 I talked to Laura Miller, deputy HR director at Barnes & Thornburg, to find out how a professional services organization like hers has been able to get, and stay, on the list.  She said the biggest reason they make the list is their office culture.  They have a culture that is very caring and supportive of the employees, and that all starts at the top with their senior leadership.  Culture is one of those aspects of the company that is going to happen regardless if it is fostered or not.  Fortunately, leadership at Barnes & Thornburg takes the time to really foster a culture where the employees are truly cared about. 

A perfect example of this has been on occasion when an employee has had a significant life event, including major health issues.  The employees have rallied around employees, providing emotional support, and in some cases, financial support.  One big reason this culture exists is that many people are long-term employees who have very strong friendships throughout the organization.  The firm sometimes will have specific events where employees can bond at a more social level. In the past, this has included the following:

- An annual picnic (so employees and their families can spend time together with co-workers)

- An annual Holiday Party

- A Fall Service Awards Dinner

-Monthly staff meetings

-Lunch & Learn gatherings about interesting topics, including anything from financial tips to health tips

-Community service days (Heart Walk, Day of Caring, Habitat for Humanity, etc.)

In speaking with Laura, the biggest takeaway for me was everything started at the top. Without the support and cultivation of the culture by the leaders of the company, the culture of the organization would never be where it is today.  Likewise, without the special culture of Barnes & Thornburg, it would have never made the Best Places to Work list.   As I mentioned earlier, every organization has a culture, some just choose to foster and develop a specific kind of culture, others let it happen on its own.  Those that foster and nurture their culture will have employees who are more loyal, attract top talent, and I believe, will ultimately be more successful than those who just let the culture take on a life of its own.



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