The Specialty Mfg. Co.

Survey statement: “My benefits package is good compared to others in this industry.”

Q: What benefits does Specialty offer that exceed industry standards?

A: From our low-cost insurance premiums to the zero-dollar copay for retail office visits and telemedicine, our plans have been designed to be extremely effective for our employees while keeping out-of-pocket expenses as low as possible. We never want to hear that an employee didn’t seek medical treatment because they were worried about the financial burden.

Q: Describe one of the more valuable benefits the company offers.

A: The first benefit that every employee at Specialty Mfg. gloats about is the company profit-sharing. Historically, Specialty Mfg. has contributed between 20 and 25 percent of an employee’s annual salary in the form of a 401(k) contribution every year. That type of contribution across any industry is almost unheard of, and one of the biggest reasons we retain top talent.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: We know that employees truly value the benefits offered by Specialty, and hopefully it gives them a few less things to worry about when they are at home. We continue to review and update our entire benefit offerings on an annual basis to ensure we are staying ahead of the market average.



Gentle Transitions

Survey statement: “At this company, we do things efficiently and well.”

Q: How does Gentle Transitions do things efficiently and well?

A: We encourage communication among our administrative team [between each other and with our field staff as well]. We “cc” administrative staff in most of the general communication so that everyone is in the loop and can assist our employees when they have questions, concerns, input on various issues/moves, etc.

We have created policies and procedures to streamline our processes and all administrative staff and our management team [Move Managers] know what our policies for all tasks affecting all team members.

Q: Describe an ongoing practice that highlights the company’s effectiveness.

A: Five years ago, we created our own online company portal that streamlined our company’s efficiency incredibly. Employees access our company portal from their homes, modify their work availability accordingly, can access resources for the clients they serve, enter employee hours, view our all-company move calendar, etc.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: Our business model is part-time, flexible and incredibly rewarding, all important factors in the equation for employee longevity. We also host approximately six social gatherings annually to keep our employees connected and nurture their relationships among each other.



Edward Jones

Survey statement: “Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company.”

Q: What do senior managers do to indicate that they understand what’s happening?

A: The senior leaders based in Minnesota hold the title of regional leader and are responsible for the health, growth and climate for an entire region of about 60 to 70 branch teams each. Regional leaders are also active financial advisers themselves, serving their own clients. Doing the same job as the branch teams they lead is a huge advantage to understanding their opportunities, needs and challenges. Regional leaders are highly accessible to their branch teams, keeping the dialogue open via office visits, e-mails, phone calls, social events and regionwide meetings.

Q: Describe an ongoing practice that illustrates this.

A: From Minnesota regional leaders’ office visits and phone calls to the firm-wide daily newsfeed and suggestion boxes (nearly 20,000 submissions a year), two-way transparent communication is key. When it was time to update the firm’s vision and planning document, every associate was invited to share individual insights that could influence the firm-wide strategies, and the resulting long-term vision document is easily accessible online in its entirety, strengths and brutal facts alike.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: We provide the training, licensing, tools, oversight and support needed to build a successful practice. Financial advisers are provided a professional office to work from and a dedicated branch staff person, all at firm expense. Based on the level of success they build have the opportunity to become an owner of the firm. Our success is built upon associates who think and act like owners.



Cardinal of Minnesota, Ltd.

Survey statement: “I get the formal training I want for my career.”

Q: What training does Cardinal of Minnesota offer its employees?

A: There is a robust orientation process for all new and supervisory level employees. This training consists of classroom style learning, one-to-one training sessions, online learning modules and observation. We have a comprehensive course catalog (Cardinal Academy) that outlines all of COMs training classes. There are classes geared more toward employees providing direct care and classes focused on leadership skills. COM also provides a Leadership Development Program that includes an assessment and career development plan for leaders to set and accomplish improvement goals.

Q: Describe a time training was helpful in improving an employee’s career.

A: Christine Hendrix has gone from an overnight sleep staff years ago, to currently being in a senior leader role. She has taken advantage of numerous leadership development classes and has advanced through four levels of management. She learned skills specific to each advancement opportunity, as well as managerial, leadership and professional skill development along the way. Formal classes as well as the opportunity to train with others through mentoring and coaching provided her the path to her successful advancement.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: Flexible schedules have proved to be very important for employees, so Cardinal strives to provide flexibility and work/life balance as much as possible. Cardinal encourages a culture of fun, and celebration where people want to stay because of the strong relationships they have built with their clients and co-workers.



Discount Steel

Statement: “I feel genuinely appreciated at this company.”

Q: How does Discount Steel show appreciation for its employees?

A: Every Friday between Memorial Day and Labor Day we grill hot dogs outside the main office and let team members enjoy fresh air, share casual conversation, and develop relationships with co-workers. Our most notable event is the annual Team Appreciation Celebration. Each year’s theme is chosen among suggestions from the team (this year the theme was Old Irish Pub). We dress up, have fun and celebrate each other’s successes, talents and contributions in an exciting and memorable way.

Q: Describe an ongoing practice that illustrates employee appreciation.

A: Discount Steel’s Hardship Program assists team members during times of need. Last year, one of our staff members experienced a house fire and endured significant loss. The company assisted through the program and held a fundraiser. It was truly amazing to see the outpouring of love and support from the Discount Steel family. We also engage in profit-sharing and pay a portion of our quarterly profits back to the team.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: One of the things we do is simple: Listen to what they have to say. Our Team Ideas Program encourages every employee to share ideas verbally, electronically or via drop boxes. Each idea is discussed in weekly leadership meetings. Many are implemented and ultimately help improve the business. During our Team Appreciation Celebration we acknowledge participants and share how their ideas have influenced the company’s success. Some of the ideas aren’t feasible, but we make it a priority to follow up and thank each person who submits one.



Keller Williams Realty

Survey statement: “I believe this company is going in the right direction.”

Q: What indications do you see that Keller Williams is going in the right direction?

A: On a global scale, Keller Williams Realty is the largest and fastest-growing real estate franchise, with more 160,000 associates. This surge in agents is a testament to the models and systems of Keller Williams.

Q: Describe a specific example of this.

A: Keller Williams continues to support our belief that the agent is the brand, not us. With that, we continue to innovate and introduce tools and systems that support the development and growth of our associates’ individual businesses.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: We are a technology and training company. Training magazine recently named Keller Williams the No. 1 training company in the world, across all business sectors. Breakthrough technology supported by world-class training and coaching gives our associates the very best opportunity for success. This implementation has led to a surge in associates joining and staying with Keller Williams.



Serenity Couture Salon & Spa

Statement: “My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful.”

Q: What does Serenity Couture do to give employees a sense if meaningfulness?

A: Many of the people who go into salon work are caregivers by nature. We are honored to be a part of our guests’ lives. Our guests sometimes share things with us that they don’t even share with their families. Not only do we get to make them look and feel beautiful, but we get to experience life moments with them: first haircuts, proms, marriage, babies, college. At the end of the day you can honestly say, “I made a difference today.”

Q: Describe a specific example of this meaningfulness.

A: Every year Aveda launches an Earth Month campaign and encourages their Aveda Salons, including Serenity Couture, to participate. We collect funds for the Minnesota Audubon Society to help preserve state waterways. We sell candles for the Global Greengrants Fund, which distributes proceeds in countries like Madagascar to provide clean drinking water. Employees have put on a “trashion show” where they create outfits made of recycled materials, doing hair and makeup on the models who display the employees’ creations. In two years the event has raised over $25,000 for the Audubon Society.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: Our mission is to communicate, educate and inspire! We spend most of our awake time at work so our goal is to offer a great work/life balance. We have fun at work and have created a work family so our team feels loved and supported by each other and our owners. Our owners believe in educating employees and placing them in positions that use their strengths and reflect their passions.



Help Systems LLC

Statement: “I feel well-informed about important decisions at this company.”

Q: How are employees at Help Systems kept informed?

A: Our CEO hosts monthly company meetings and sends out weekly company update e-mails. We also have an “Ask the Bosses” link on our intranet where employees can send our leadership team anonymous questions anytime. We are starting YamJams or worldwide town hall meetings next month.

Q: Describe an ongoing practice that illustrates the company’s communication.

A: Every month we host a live all-company meeting in which we present information to employees about the many things happening at HelpSystems. This includes welcoming new hires, providing a financial update, discussing recent sales and giving product updates. This meeting is recorded and made available on our intranet for anyone who may have missed it.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: We have a casual environment [jeans anytime] where employees can learn, grow and have fun. Three committees are influential in making employees happy. The Good Neighbor Committee sets up volunteer and fund­raising opportunities to make it easy for employees to help the community. The Fun Committee organizes events like our monthly pizza day, monthly pie day and holiday celebrations. Our Wellness Committee organizes activities which help employees earn wellness points in exchange for financial incentives.

We have free yoga, paid time off for volunteering and personal-enrichment reimbursement. Everyone gets a share in the company through our equity program and employees who stay with us are rewarded with unique service awards such as paid trips and shopping sprees. If you stay for 20 years, you earn a month- long paid sabbatical!



Pediatric Home Service

Statements: “My manager helps me learn and grow”; “My manager makes it easier to do my job well”

Q: How do the managers at Pediatric Home Service help employees learn and grow, do their jobs well and know that they care about their concerns?

A: Managers at PHS take the time to truly listen to their employees. We encourage them to seek learning opportunities and strive to create a work environment where people feel comfortable, work hard and have fun. We also encourage employees to grow internally — whether that means a promotion, enrolling in our leadership program or moving to a different department.

Q: Describe a specific practice in which managers have demonstrated one of these qualities.

A: Our field staff is 100 percent remote, so it’s often hard to connect this group with our office staff. For the past two years, our director of nursing has hosted a group of supervisors and office staff at her house during the holidays to bake goodies for about 150 nurses, and deliver them to nurses during their shifts to show our appreciation for them.

Q: What is the company doing to retain quality employees?

A: We focus on creating a culture where our employees feel valued and appreciated, knowing that we all play a key part in achieving our company vision. That means we are constantly listening to ideas from employees to make this an enjoyable place to be. We’ve implemented innovative solutions like celebrations within departments, fun videos to recognize others, contests that encourage empowerment, and creative, flexible scheduling that supports a healthy balance between work and home.



Tradition Companies

Statement: "This company operates by strong values and ethics."

Q: In general, how does the Tradition Companies show its commitment to strong values and ethics?

A: All the leaders of the Tradition Companies understand the importance of having a home/family/personal life and having a work life. Employees are able to have a great balance between the high expectations in the workplace and the ability to have a life outside of work. This has always led to strong, happy employees in the workplace and seems to help with employees’ family lives as well.

Q: Describe a specific event or policy that especially illustrates the companies' commitment to values and ethics.

A: The importance that the companies place on charity is incredible. HopeKids is the charity of choice for Tradition Companies and does great work for children and their families dealing with severe childhood illnesses. The importance of giving back and being thankful for everything we have is clear with the support given to HopeKids between the HopeKids Christmas Party, The House That Hope Built, The Suburban Adventure Run to benefit HopeKids, and various other events.

Q: What is the company doing to attract or retain employees in a tightening labor market?

A: Tradition Companies continues to focus on supporting its employees and providing fun, unique work environments that people want to be a part of. For example, the Lakeville offices are within the Spirit of Brandtjen Farm development and are built on the old family farm site. The offices consist of the re-built old farmhouse and horse barn. In addition, each Friday during the summer there are workplace barbecues to allow employees a time to meet and spend time with people from the other companies with whom they don’t directly work with on a daily basis. The “office” site and the Friday events create a very unique, fun setting to work.



ACR Homes

Statement: "New ideas are encouraged at this company."

Q: How does ACR Homes encourage employees to contribute new ideas?

A: ACR encourages collaborative thinking through an employee suggestion program called “Open Sourcing.” ACR employees send observations and suggestions to a dedicated “Open Sourcing” e-mail address. All ideas are considered and implemented whenever feasible. A winner is selected every month, and at the end of the year a grand-prize winner is chosen for a $5,000 bonus.

Q: Describe a specific idea that proved especially beneficial.

A: One winning idea that was submitted back in 2008 was to develop a coffee shop where ACR residents and staff could come and enjoy a cup of coffee in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. ACR decided to run with this idea by opening a coffee shop next door to its administrative offices. Residents with disabilities who live in ACR’s homes and their staff have enjoyed stopping by to socialize with office staff and with each other. 

Q: What is the company doing to attract or retain quality employees?

A: ACR stands for Acceptance, Communication and Respect -- these are the keys to our goal of providing the best possible care for people with disabilities. Our clarity of purpose has attracted great employees from the beginning.

Employees are also drawn to ACR’s management style of tailoring positions to fit employee strengths. We aim to make the most of each employee’s talents and to help them grow and develop new skills.

We also have an employee internship program which attracts over 100 interns a year in majors ranging from health sciences to liberal arts. Interns gain significant hands-on experience and patient-care hours.





ThreeBridge Solutions

Statement: "I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life."

Q: What are some of the ways ThreeBridge Solutions helps employees balance work and personal life?

A: We naturally have a mindset of “work/life integration” and practice it as much as we can. Today’s workforce has the tools and technology to work from anywhere, at any time, and by allowing flexibility, our team can better integrate their work and their lives, relieving pressure points when needed. It’s not about working less. Rather, it’s about working when, and where, makes the most sense to manage the outcomes we all want.

Q: Describe an example of when the company’s practices were particularly helpful. 

A: After receiving feedback about the difficulties of attending mandatory all-company meetings (our employees are geographically spread around the Twin Cities), we decided to hold multiple identical meetings instead. One in St. Paul, and one in Minneapolis. Our leadership team had more meetings to run, but it gave hundreds of employees more time. Now any of our mandatory meetings or training sessions are held in duplicate or triplicate, to make it easier for our consultants to manage their time. We’ve found that happy employees deliver more value, and it’s important for us to stay flexible and find ways to connect the dots.

Q: What is the company doing to attract or retain employees in a tightening labor market?

A: According to our employees, our heavy focus on training and mentorship is one of the biggest factors in their decision to join ThreeBridge, and the biggest reason they stay. High performers want to be challenged by continued growth opportunities, and by investing in these programs, our employees experience our commitment to help them succeed.