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The most loved employers do unto their employees as they would have them do unto themselves. At least they try. That's one thing the 2005 Best Christian Places to Work survey suggests.

The finalists see their employees as so much more than brains or muscles they can use. They see them as parents who need flex time, as bodies that need exercise, as souls who need prayer, and as the sick who need compassion and good insurance.

Zondervan, top finalist in the large media category, showed extraordinary forbearance in the way it treated Jen Abbas, who was hired as associate marketing director in October 2003. Shortly after that, on January 21, 2004, Abbas fell and suffered a "mild traumatic brain injury." She became a walking wounded. "I looked fine, but my brain was bruised," she says. She lost the ability to be introspective and the concept of time. For most of last year, her short-term memory was gone. She had 157 doctor appointments in 2004.

But she told herself she was fine, and came in to work. In June, after a period of pushing too hard, she relapsed. Neurological tests found she was using 17 percent of her brain's functioning level. After several months of spotty attendance, doctors told her to stay home, this time for three months.

Abbas's two vice presidents—head of human resources Nancy Thole and vp of marketing John Topliff—"spent a lot of time with my speech therapist to find out what happens when you have a head injury," she says. "They wanted to structure my return to set me up to succeed. I'm blown away by that. So many people with head injuries lose their job or insurance." Instead, Abbas says, "I was told, 'Don't worry about the job, it's here for you.'"

The survey also showed that this year's winning ...

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May 2005

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