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Continued: Five in a row: The secrets of their success

  • Article by: KATY READ , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 17, 2014 - 11:26 AM

At Mortenson, 95 percent of employees respond to a biannual survey regarding attitudes toward work, Gunkel said. Then, “to the extent we can, we correct or adjust and make improvements that we think will make their lives better.”

Marco also gets a high response in its annual employee surveys. “Do you trust your supervisor? Does management know what they’re doing? We ask tough questions of ourselves,” Gau said. “And you know what? We take action and we follow up.”

At Allianz, “we constantly ask our employees for feedback,” said Human Resources Officer Suzanne Dowd Zeller. Their responses have led to a number of company initiatives, including an annual 5K walk/run.

Keep it flat

“We have a flatter structure than some, we’re not as hierarchical,” said Phillips of PreferredOne. “The CEO is oftentimes in the same lunchroom with everybody else.”

At UCare, the CEO gets together with every new employee for an informal chat in her office, Marden-Resnik said. “Everybody has this opportunity to meet the CEO and hear a little bit about her style and her priorities.”

Estrem also described Hammer’s culture as flat. “We’re pretty casual. We’re not terribly corporate. More relaxed. More open. Any staff member can stop in at any time to talk to me.”

Same at Keller Williams. “Keller Williams has 100,000 associates,” Butzer said. “The leadership, the owners, are completely accessible to us. We can text them. We can call them right now and talk to them.”

Let people have a life

“We have a strong commitment to work-life balance,” said Anne Sample, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Thrivent Financial. “We have many different flexible work arrangement programs that allow people to balance their personal and professional life.”

So does Securian, Pinkett said. “We realize employees have lives outside of work. We always put the business need first but within that we are flexible with schedules.”

At Marco, “being a workaholic isn’t going to win you any awards,” Gau said. “If you can’t make an event at 4 o’clock in the afternoon because you’re coaching your son or your daughter’s Little League game, we’re OK with that.”


Katy Read • 612-673-4583

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