At Clockwork Active Media, the distinction between work life and home life is blurred.
The reigning philosophy for this northeast Minneapolis company that employs more than 60 is you can’t excel at one if you don’t excel at the other.
“We don’t talk about work-life balance. It’s all about life. We’re human, and to expect that to be compartmentalized is ridiculous,” said Nancy Lyons, CEO of the company that she and three colleagues founded in 2002. “What we do is trust people to do what they need to do, so when we need their energy we’ll get their best.”
That philosophy — that success in your personal life breeds success in your professional life — is the reason why Clockwork employees made their employer the top workplace for companies with fewer than 150 employees.
It is Clockwork’s fourth straight year on the Top Workplaces list but the first year in the top spot. Rounding out the top five small workplaces was Alarm.com, a company that develops software for home automation and security; the direct marketing company Wisdom Executives Inc.; LaBelle Real Estate Group; and Gentle Transitions, a relocation management company.
In total, 70 Minnesota companies and nonprofits made the list of small companies, including law firm Chestnut Cambronne, the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, several banks, health care clinics and one hotel — the Mayo Clinic Doubletree in Rochester. More than half were first-time winners.
One of those first-timers is Glenwood State Bank, a family-owned, 108-year-old institution in central Minnesota with 51 employees.
“The bank sees the bigger picture and helps me and my family appropriately prioritize my life,” one worker wrote on the survey. Another felt “valued and appreciated” by management.
At the bank, there are little things such as a treat-stocked break room, a paid half-day each year to do volunteer work and the opportunity for paid out-of-state retreats. “Our No. 1 asset is our employees. People bank with people, not with Glenwood State Bank,” said President Peter Nelson. “Our purpose is to make a difference in the lives of our employees, our customers and our community.”
Top-ranked Clockwork is a digital marketing operation that builds web applications for companies to use on mobile devices, the Internet and in public spaces.
Clients listed on Clockwork’s web page range from the YMCA of the Twin Cities to agriculture giant Cargill, the Gold’n Plump brand of chicken products and home food deliverer Schwan’s.
But much of its work is confidential at clients’ request. However, Lyons said Clockwork developed a virtual in-store experience for a large packaged goods manufacturer several years ago and has created an interactive touch display for a company in the entertainment industry.
Respect and trust are words that are repeated regularly in workplace conversations about Clockwork’s environment. “It’s a culture unlike anyplace I’ve ever worked,” said Emily McAuliffe, an account director and vice president of strategy. “Everything is intertwined. We do great work and have great lives.”
Clockwork was featured in a story on “NBC Nightly News” last year for hosting an environment “that may redefine work-life balance” with its acceptance of children, flexible schedules and tap beer in the workplace.
“I get to push myself to perform better for our clients,” another employee said on the Top Workplaces survey. “I’m empowered to do my job the best way I see fit.” Another said: “I feel like I’m part of a values-driven organization.”
All of which is music to the ears of Lyons, who earlier in her career worked for an employer who treated her dismissively. “I remember how diminished I felt. It had a profound effect on me,” she said. “We made a conscious decision to create a workplace that is concerned with hiring good people and encouraging excellence.”