Location: Raleigh, N.C.
Assets: $1.3 billion
Employees: 132
President and CEO: Robert Hatley
www.paragonbank.com

Paragon Commercial Bank's commitment to employees is evident at its Raleigh, N.C., headquarters building. An on-site gym, buff with tread mills, ellipticals and weights, recently doubled in size. Down the hall, "Bob's Bistro" — a sizable break room that has overstuffed chairs, TVs and snacks and is named for President and Chief Executive Robert Hatley — is a favorite hangout.

"We do not charge employees to come in and grab a bag of chips or a cup of coffee," Hatley says. "People really appreciate that kind of thing, and it doesn't cost that much."

Paragon is willing to invest in keeping employees happy in ways both big and small. It vests matching 401(k) contributions immediately, brings in massage therapists as a treat and runs several programs to recognize employees.

Hatley is the transparent chief cheerleader. He regularly shares bank financials and performance data with employees. About once a month, he personally takes a group of five or six employees out for lunch.

The system works, Hatley says: Paragon's employee turnover rate is less than 8 percent, well below the industry average. "I know I can't compete with the beach," he says. "But I don't want anyone dreading coming into work on Monday morning."

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