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COMMUNICATION: Clockwork Active Media Systems
Transparency. It’s not just a buzz word for Nancy Lyons, CEO of Minneapolis-based Clockwork Active Media Systems. “I don’t hold much back,” said Lyons, a techie veteran who approaches her monthly staff meetings as fearlessly as her confessional Facebook feed. “We talk about everything,” she said. “I’ve told them health care costs are going up … I’ve talked to them about cash flow in the past.” These days the news is overwhelmingly positive: The digital media agency increased its revenue by 50 percent last year, enabling Clockwork to hire an additional 22 employees for a grand total of 75. With a larger staff, the iconoclastic Lyons was finally compelled to adopt some of the corporate communicator’s more conventional tools. “We started to do internal newsletters because we’re finally at that place,” she said. “I never thought sending a newsletter to the staff would add to positive morale, but it does.”
WORK/LIFE FLEXIBILITY: Vinland National Center
With its location on 185 acres of restored prairie in western Hennepin County that features 2,000 feet of shoreline on Lake Independence, a pontoon boat and canoes, lakeside chalet with fireplace and kitchen facilities, a yoga room, staff physiologist, personal trainer, and massage therapists, Vinland National Center sounds more like a resort than a workplace. But that’s not the only reason the staff at Vinland, which offers outpatient and residential services for people with disabilities, feels appreciated. Their jobs can be stressful, so Vinland’s Employee Appreciation Committee likes to “think outside the box,” said Executive Director Mary Roehl. Generous PTO, flexible hours and casual dress are the norm. Employees can earn points for doing enriching activities – from reading a book to taking a walk to going to church – and exchange them for cash or gift cards. “We try to treat everyone as family,” Roehl said.
TRAINING: Edward Jones
“Womb to tomb” is how John McCarey, an Edward Jones financial adviser, regional leader and general partner, likes to describe his company’s training programs. “We realize that our professional development is critical and ongoing.” New advisers attend training in the company’s home offices in St. Louis or Tempe, Ariz., for hands-on training and development, and continue getting additional training throughout their careers. Some is mandated by the SEC, but the company’s standards are higher than the government’s, with additional annual requirements. Advisers share their learning, too. “We work together, we help each other,” he said, adding that the company’s goal is to grow to 20,000 financial advisers nationally (it now has about 12,000) by the year 2020. “Our goal is to be the No. 1 choice of the serious, individual, long-term investor … and the whole training program is part of that, to have highly competent professional financial advisers.”