Article Reference - Madison magazine | Published September 2019 by Maija Inveiss
A business is only as good as its best employees. The top 30 companies named this year's Best Places to Work share insight into how they attract and retain top talent, and how the Madison area helps them do so.
A company named a "best place to work" doesn't just provide great employee benefits and offer creative workspaces. While those aspects help, a best place to work is better defined by the people who are genuinely interested in supporting and advancing the company.
This year, 30 Madison companies were selected as Madison Magazine's Best Places to Work based on survey results analyzed by Quantum Workplace, an employee-engagement software company. This year, we highlight the innovative ways these companies are attracting and retaining top talent.
"Competition is fierce for top talent in Madison," says Mike Victorson, president and CEO of M3 Insurance Solutions Inc., one of this year's Best Places to Work. "We believe it's important to focus on our employment brand because attracting talent is about your reputation as a company and the ‘promise' of what it will be like to work and build your career."
Madison, home to the highest concentration of millennial workers, was recently named one of the 10 best cities for entrepreneurs and has the second-highest employment outlook in the country. To attract and retain top talent, companies are thinking outside the box. One of the Madison business community's greatest assets is having a university in town that's continually preparing potential employees. Amy Achter, the managing director of the Office of Business Engagement at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, says her office works with companies looking for new ways to find students.
While traditional initiatives like job fairs are still good resources for employers, Achter says it takes more ingenuity to stand out and attract top talent. Company leaders are starting to think of creative ways to get students to recognize their brands by offering mentorship opportunities, sponsoring capstone projects, hosting hackathons and getting involved in the community with students.
"A lot of our students are looking for companies that they have shared values with and that they feel would be a good fit for them," Achter says. "Companies are absolutely asking to be engaged with talent; they're also looking for new and interesting ways to do it."
Achter says that while talented employees are trying to find more ways to connect, companies are also looking for more than technical skills and good grades alone. A survey with a small sampling of companies the Office of Business Engagement works with found that companies are looking for these characteristics in new talent: problem solving, the ability to work in a team, written communication skills, leadership, a strong work ethic, analytical skills, strong verbal communication, initiative, attention to detail and flexibility.
"They're looking for students who are flexible in their interests as well and are going to be willing to try different things," Achter says.
Cassie Neary, the director of partnerships at Quantum Workplace, says on average, employees at Madison companies are more likely to be promoters of their company compared to employees at companies in other regions.
For many, living in Madison is in itself appealing. The city is buzzing with nightly entertainment, new restaurants and ways to enjoy the outdoors. Madison is consistently named one of the best places to live among larger cities. In 2019, livability.com named Madison as the third best place to live out of 100 cities.
"Talented professionals that find themselves here are being afforded the same excitement that was once only possible in larger cities," says Vicki Ryan, executive vice president of human resources and administration at Nordic, which is the top-ranked Best Place to Work in the large category. —MI
Best Places to Work Finalists
Small (10-50 Employees)
1. Carex Consulting Group
2. Guild Mortgage
3. Artisan Dental LLC
4. The Digital Ring
5. National CooperativeRx
7. Atmosphere Commercial Interiors
10. C. Blohm & Associates Inc.
Medium (51-100 Employees)
1. Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton, Madison/Downtown - owned and operated by Raymond Management Co.
3. Singlewire Software
4. Wipfli LLP
6. Oregon Community Bank
7. Tri-North Builders Inc.
8. WEA Member Benefits
9. The QTI Group
10. LSM Chiropractic
Large (101+ Employees)
2. Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.
3. Widen Enterprises Inc.
4. M3 Insurance Solutions Inc.
5. Promega Corp.
6. EatStreet Inc.
8. Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP
9. Summit Credit Union
10. The Douglas Stewart Co.