‘Create an environment for success’: Top Madison companies share how they avoid worker burnout

Madison's top companies share secrets to employee happiness


At the start of a new year, it’s not uncommon for people to start thinking about exploring new options, especially at work.

Two-thirds of full-time workers experience job burnout, and those workers are more than twice as likely to be searching for a new job, according to a recent Gallup study.

Leaders at companies voted “The Best Place to Work in Madison,” shared some insight in how job burnout can affect employees and companies, as well as, how it can be avoided.

Singlewire CEO Paul Shain said he experienced job burnout first hand when he worked long hours with no work life balance in the investment business. So, when Shain made the switch to the tech industry, work life balance became an important factor in building his company.

“How could we create a culture that is really inviting and inclusive for everybody? How could we create a business model that provided the resources to reinvest in the business and reinvest in our people?” Shain said.

Singlewire distributes an emergency and mass notification system called InformaCast. The company employs more than 100 people. Over the past ten years, Shain said he’s focused on what is best for the company and those employees.

“We have tried to create an environment for success, and what we mean by that is the tools you need and the education you need, the opportunity to engage with customers and learn first hand what they need, and then also an opportunity to try to create a physical environment that is really pleasant,” Shain said.

Signs of job burnout could range from fatigue and low motivation to illness and depression.

Leaders at these companies said meeting with employees regularly could bring those issues to light.

“That’s where you can catch those signs early on and figure out the reasons behind it. You know, is it due to their job or do they no longer have a passion for the business that we are in, and a lot of times what we’ve found is it is stuff that is going on in their personal lives as well,” Heather Kleist, HR manager at Widen said.

Tri-North Vice President Anna Stern leads one of the many companies that do that by making it possible for employees to do their entire job from home.

“As most people talk, they really value that they feel like they’re a part of the time. They understand that we value them as humans. We value their families. So, it’s positive,” Stern said.

At Guild Mortgage Madison, Producing Branch Manager Ryan Smith said the environment stays positive by working as a team.

“Everything we do to help the client, our business partners and each other is done as a team and leads to a collaborative and supportive environment. We stock the fridge, celebrate birthdays, enjoy each other’s successes and encourage learning from each other,” Smith said.

Brad Grzesiak, CEO at Bendyworks, said his company also thrives on teamwork.

“Bendyworks promotes a culture of openness and transparency, collaboration and sharing. Decisions are frequently made by soliciting input from the whole team. We value feedback and ideas, and hold quarterly company retros to review what is going well and where we can improve,” Grzesiak said. “The team decides what to discuss and focus on in the retros. We value kindness, generosity and inclusion in the workplace.”

When employees face burnout, it also takes a toll on the company’s health, which is another idea Shain kept in mind when starting Singlewire.

“How could we create an environment that people want to come and work here and stay here for a long time, so we could reduce our turnover?” Shain said.

All of these intentions to avoid job burnout is what can create a sense of mutual trust and fair treatment between bosses and employees.

“If you give people that flexibility and you hold them accountable for what they need to get done and they’re accountable to and for each other, we find it is not a problem. We find that people embrace it, they welcome it, they value it and it makes for better job satisfaction.” Shain said.