IT employees stay connected in a big way at this Bloomington, Ill.-base insurance provider. The company maintains one of the largest virtual private networks in the world, linking more than 65,000 employees and more than 17,000 agents. State Farm has collaborative relationships with vendors through which the company's IT workers have an opportunity to be early adopters of new technologies and participate in pilot tests of new products. The company's 295-acre campus features a 16,500-square-foot research-and-development center that offers year-round internships. Plus, the company offers 1,000 in-house IT courses and certification programs and it encourages employees to pursue external education at universities and training centers. State Farm has some 600 IT development projects under way at any given time. Employees can choose their work schedules and their work environments, and their options include telecommuting and collaborative work arrangements. Employees can supplement the retirement benefits they will receive through the company-funded defined-benefit pension plan with contributions to the State Farm 401(k) plan, mutual funds and/or individual retirement accounts. The company promotes wellness through its "Live Well, Be Well" initiative, which provides resources to help employees make informed decisions about various aspects of their lifestyles, such as physical activity, nutrition, smoking cessation and preventative screenings. Rewards time: State Farm created several awards programs to recognize the outstanding performances of IT workers. Employees whose managers recommend that they receive Special Achievement Awards can earn cash bonuses of $250 to $3,000 and are invited to attend a special celebration. The On the Spot rewards program allows managers to give employees immediate cash awards of $10 to $100 for exceptional performance.