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Inside The Breakers' Success: Tricia Taylor and Denise Bober on Making the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® List

The Breakers Palm Beach recently made headlines by earning the #59 spot on the 2024 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list by Great Place To Work® and Fortune Magazine®. This remarkable achievement marks the second consecutive year the luxury resort has been honored with this national distinction spanning all industries; it also stands as the only independent hotel to earn this prestigious ranking. Notably, hotel brands Hilton, IHG, and Hyatt were also included, highlighting the hospitality sector's increased focus on creating exceptional workplaces, especially in the post-COVID era.

To gain deeper insights into what makes The Breakers such a “great place to work,” I sat down with President Tricia Taylor and Chief Human Resources Officer Denise Bober on a recent trip to Florida to discuss their long-term vision, the Culture of Care and Well-being they’ve cultivated, and the innovative initiatives that keep their employees engaged and thriving.

tricia taylor and denise bober the breakers best places to work

If you don’t know The Breakers, it is one of America’s most iconic resorts, an Italian Renaissance-style hotel set within 140 acres of oceanfront property on the island of Palm Beach. Founded in 1896 by magnate Henry M. Flagler, this legendary destination continues to flourish independently under Flagler’s heirs, marking four generations of  devoted family ownership. With a long-term view, they reinvest an average of $30M each year in ongoing enhancements and revitalization, balancing preservation and modernization, while introducing new products and experiences.

Inspired by the Villa Medici in Rome, the magnificent, eight-story architectural centerpiece features 534 guest rooms and suites, including the ultra-luxury Flagler Club - a boutique, private-access hotel nestled atop the resort. The Breakers also offers world-class amenities, including 10 distinctive restaurants, four oceanfront pools, two 18-hole golf courses, a tranquil spa, shopping, family entertainment, and extensive recreation. Along with being recognized as a AAA Five Diamond property, The Breakers has earned numerous accolades over the years for its social impact and dedication to employee well-being.

Fun fact: The Breakers remains one of the longest, continuously operating businesses in the state of Florida and one of only 1,000-plus, family-owned businesses in America over 100 years old and still in the hands of its original owners. 

tricia taylor the breakers
credit: The Breakers Palm Beach

Let’s jump into it with Tricia and Denise:

Congratulations on making the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list again this year! What does this recognition mean to you and your team?

Denise: Thank you! It's truly an honor and something I am particularly proud of as the professional and personal satisfaction of our 2,400-person team has been the priority throughout my 35+ year career at the company. This recognition reaffirms the organization’s dedication to creating an exceptional workplace where everyone feels valued and supported.

You’ve certainly made an impact, as The Breakers is known for its employee-centric culture. Can you tell us more about the long-term vision behind this?

Tricia: Our vision has always been to create a workplace where our team feels cared for and heard. This isn't just about meeting industry standards, it's about setting new ones by deeply understanding what matters to our associates. Over the years, we've concentrated on fostering open communication, listening to feedback, and acting on it. As a single independent hotel, we emphasize cross training to promote personal growth and advancement. Our culture, supported by initiatives and a holistic approach to the workplace, have been crucial in building trust and a sense of belonging. 

Denise: Validating our unwavering pursuit of employee fulfillment, 94%  say The Breakers is a great place to work, and 96% are proud to tell others they work at The Breakers. Staff referrals are the #1 source for recruitment and hiring; their satisfaction is the best testimonial for The Breakers as an employer. 

Team members in the logo shape // photo: The Breakers Palm Beach
Team members in the logo shape // photo: The Breakers Palm Beach

Those are impressive stats, how have you incorporated employee feedback into your workplace culture?

Denise: We administer a team member opinion survey annually, and remarkably, 97% of our team participated this past year. We take our staff's feedback very seriously and have implemented numerous changes based on their suggestions. 

How does your “open door” policy work in practice, especially with technology?

Tricia: Our open-door policy has evolved with technology. We’ve centralized communications through our employee app, Beekeeper, which we launched in 2018. This platform facilitates direct communication between staff and leadership and allows team members to make suggestions and ask questions anytime.  This ensures their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed promptly. The app has enhanced transparency and trust within the organization. I get DMs all the time from our associates and respond or put them in touch with the right manager.

Our open-door policy has evolved with technology. We’ve centralized communications through our employee app, Beekeeper, which we launched in 2018. This platform facilitates direct communication between staff and leadership and allows team members to make suggestions and ask questions anytime. 

Wellness and mental health seem to be a significant focus at The Breakers. Could you elaborate on your initiatives in this area?

Denise: We were prioritizing wellness long before it became a trend. Our wellness journey spans over 20 years, encompassing various programs such as an on-site wellness clinic, mental health support, and preventative care. Employees can access services like dermatology, dental, and mammography during their paid shifts. We also have initiatives like financial advising, which contribute to overall well-being.

Can you share some examples of how your culture of care has made a tangible difference in employees' lives?

Tricia: We have numerous stories that highlight the impact of our efforts.

One of my favorites is our ESL program, where team members volunteer to be facilitators, helping others improve their English skills for work and to use in their daily lives. This program has been life-changing for participants. One of our team members was struggling with daily tasks, like going to the bank, because of his limited English. He spoke French Creole and needed his daughter to join him in order to translate. This limited his ability to complete basic responsibilities and be self-reliant, which slowly chipped away at his confidence. The team member participated in The Breakers’ ESL program to expand his listening, speaking, writing, reading, and communication skills. As a result, and as a recent ESL graduate, he can now manage his life independently, a benefit for both him and his family, exponentially improving his and their standard of living. He no longer needs his daughter to join him at the bank! 

Another example is our Tower Trek, where staff are encouraged to take breaks throughout the day and climb stairs from the bottom to the top of our north Belvedere tower; this promotes physical and mental well-being. We also keep fruit around for easy and healthy snacks.

Wow, the ESL program is terrific. Your approach to childcare and family support is also quite innovative for the industry. Could you tell us more about that?

Denise: After conducting focus groups, we developed a customized backup care program that includes both child and elder care services. We also have Parents Corner, which offers support and resources for associates with kids. This program helps them balance their work and personal lives more effectively.

What advice would you give other organizations aiming to create a similar culture of care?

Denise: Listen to your team members and make their well-being a priority. It's not just about implementing programs, it's about genuinely caring for each individual. Foster open communication, be responsive to feedback, and continuously strive to create a supportive and inclusive environment. This approach not only enhances employee satisfaction, it also drives overall business success. In fact, our staff retention rate is one of the highest in the hospitality sector at 85%, and we are on pace to exceed a record-breaking 16,000 applications this year. 

All team meeting at The Breakers // credit: The Breakers Palm Beach
All team meeting at The Breakers // credit: The Breakers Palm Beach
Our staff retention rate is one of the highest in the hospitality sector at 85%, and we are on pace to exceed a record-breaking 16,000 applications this year. 

Finally, what is next for The Breakers?

Tricia: We don't focus on seeking accolades; instead, we concentrate on doing what is right for our team and guests. We believe in our mission and values, and it's humbling to see our efforts recognized. This approach reinforces our commitment to maintaining a workplace where everyone feels respected and valued. 

A sampling of The Breakers’ latest employee initiatives, available during work hours, are centered on preventative care, personal enrichment and education. 

  • BHS Thrive - Mental Health Counseling: For those seeking support, confidential, one-on-one appointments aim to alleviate challenges of everyday living, foster trust, and connect individuals with timely, evidence-based care. 

  • Florida Mobile Mammography: Team members can receive 3D mammography screenings from a Breast Fellowship Trained Radiologist during scheduled shifts.

  • Personal Safety & Self-Defense Training: Offered biannually to The Breakers’ management team, this customized course was devised by an industry leader in active threat and workplace violence training.

  • OnSpot Dermatology: This comprehensive mobile practice gives employees the convenience of dermatology care such as general cosmetic and surgical procedures, including skin cancer screenings and Mohs surgery,in a portable medical clinic on the resort’s property.

  • Jet Dental: Mobile oral health-care is provided quarterly to team members and their spouses in a pop-up office with certified dentists. It offers preventive cleanings, x-rays, exams, cavity fillings, fluoride treatments, and referrals should if more complex care be required

  • Breakers Environmental Sustainability Training (BEST): This educational, goal-oriented program focuses on three crucial environmental pillars: water, waste and energy. It was designed in partnership with West Palm Beach-based FAU Pine Jog - a LEED-Certified Gold Facility dedicated to developing, researching, and disseminating services to cultivate environmentally educated and engaged communities. This collaboration aims to empower Breakers’ team members to actively participate in the property's sustainability journey for the future benefit of the company and surrounding communities.

The Breakers Emily goldfischer tricia taylor denise bober
Emily Goldfischer with Tricia Taylor, Denise Bober and Sara Flight in The Breakers famous breakfast room

Super innovative and inspiring. Thank you Tricia & Denise, keep leading the way!

In Case You're Curious: Here's How The Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® Survey Works

A bit about the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list by Fortune Media® and Great Place To Work®: This esteemed annual ranking focuses on how associates feel about their workplace by evaluating their confidential  feedback and matching it against HR data from participating companies. Organizations with consistently high survey responses across 60 statements that comprise the Trust Index™ Survey are considered for placement on the list. Companies must be Great Place To Work Certified™, have 1,000 or more staff in the U.S., and complete an extensive, highly competitive application process that includes in-depth essays about the organization’s meaningful support programs and resources (validated by team member commentary). 


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