What’s the secret to finding and retaining employees? Employers share their tips

These business leaders describe their processes
What’s the secret to finding and retaining employees? Employers share their tips
Kaia Calhoun

With so many employment opportunities popping up around Madison and in cities across the U.S., how do local companies keep their employees engaged and happy in their career trajectories? These company leaders share their secrets to retaining employees.

“Talented people are drawn to a workplace where employees are motivated and encouraged to grow and progress in their careers. At CB&A, we focus on collaboration and camaraderie. In addition to a strong, positive company culture, offering a competitive benefits package to employees and their families is a must for attracting and keeping top talent.” — Charlene Blohm, president, C. Blohm & Associates Inc.

“We frequently host events at our company for our employees to show our appreciation for their hard work. By making the work environment more fun, and in keeping with our core value of creating an exceptional experience for them, we are able to keep top talent engaged, participating and enjoying their work-life balance at Fairway.” — Kathy Bultman, vice president of corporate communications, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp.

“We stress a team atmosphere where everybody is welcome and encouraged to give their opinion and feedback. We hold regular meetings and stress accountability throughout the branch.” — Ryan Smith, branch manager, Guild Mortgage

“Giving back to the community as a team is important. We’re fortunate to have a great office space in downtown Madison, and we offer that up for free for local community events. We also volunteer together as a team at local charities.” — Chad Nitschke, CEO and co-founder, Bunker

“We retain top talent by giving them the freedom to ‘act like they own the joint.’ Widen has a goal of 80% of decisions to be made at the employee level versus executive level. No need to run decisions up the chain of command as that delays forward momentum and doesn’t make employees think on their own.” — Heather Kleist, human resources manager, Widen Enterprises Inc.

“We practice with the spirit that every individual can make a difference/contribution in the company. As a result, people who show up with passion to address a need have been given special projects, create new ways of doing things and bring new programs into the organization.” — Gayle Paul, director of human resources operations, Promega Corp.

“We make it a priority to compare and make compensation equitable for ‘like jobs’ across the company. We also create an equitable workplace by rewarding success through recognition of a job well done. Some of the specific techniques are prioritizing promotion from within the company, peer-nominated employee of the month recognition at a company level, and ‘compliment jar’ communicated weekly at a team level.” — Chuck Hulan, CEO and president, The Douglas Stewart Co.

“Our benefits are unparalleled, especially the ‘weird’ ones, like interest-free bike loans, equipment budgets and fun activities. Our traditional benefits are, to quote one employee, ‘life-changingly good.’ ” 
— Brad Grzesiak, CEO, Bendyworks

“As individuals have the ability to showcase their area of expertise, other staff trust that person will make the end product better and work more collaboratively to maximize the value we bring to our members.” — Josh Bindl, CEO, National Cooperative Rx

“Attracting and keeping top talent requires having engaging and challenging work, providing opportunities for advancement and reinvesting in our associates’ ongoing development. It also helps to have a team of great people whom you can rely on for professional and personal support.” — Bob Cottingham, geographic and Madison market leader, Wipfli LLP

“At Summit Credit Union, employees own their careers, and we provide opportunities for growth. We celebrate diversity and actively build an inclusive workplace. Employees stay with Summit for these and many other reasons, especially for our culture and shared commitment to our members’ financial wellness.” — Nancy Kasten, senior vice president of human resources and organizational development, Summit Credit Union

“Creating an inclusive and diverse culture is not just an initiative at The QTI Group but a way of life. To further emphasize this importance and our commitment to inclusion, all QTI employees attended training on unconscious bias.” — Jill Dohnal, director of marketing, The QTI Group

“Each employee is here to work with us, not for us. We want to help our employees achieve their goals while simultaneously helping us achieve our business goals. That collective effort allows us to be on a path of changing the world together.” — Todd Hoffmaster, CEO, AkitaBox

“We believe in hiring people for roles that fit their skills, experience and personalities in the best way. When you focus on getting the right person in the right place for the right role, regardless of gender, nationality, orientation, disability, etc., you create a workforce where your employees can thrive.” — Jeff
McCollum, media and public relations Manager, Infosec

“In the recruiting process, we try to involve our team as much as possible. Every time we welcome a new person to our family, we not only make sure there is a mutual understanding of expectations, we also make sure we can learn and grow from one another.” — Zach Anderson, COO, AssuredLeads

“We have never been hung up on hierarchy; rather we want every employee to feel like they have a voice and they matter. We actively encourage our folks to share their ideas and their thoughts.” — Anna Stern, president, Tri-North Builders Inc.

“Our recruitment strategy is to seek and hire candidates who are driven by the purpose and meaning of the work we do. They stay because they find an environment here that keeps them closely connected to their personal sense of purpose.” — Andy Boryczka, director of employee and volunteer engagement, Agrace

“Adding new hires to the organization adds a certain amount of new energy, ideas, creativity and innovation. As we continue to grow and evolve, we get input from our folks to guide some of the strategic decisions we make.” — Steve Peotter, president and CEO, Oregon Community Bank

“A strong company purpose and core values give employees direction and a path to success.”
— Mindy MacWilliams, executive vice president, Atmosphere Commercial Interiors

“The focus we place on people is what makes our workplace exceptional and where exceptional people thrive. Baker Tilly wants our employees to grow and develop and accomplish big things — not just at the start of their career but all the way through it.” — Kevin Heppner, regional managing partner, central, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP

“By providing different career advancement paths, we found people stay more engaged. We encourage our staff to take the path that best suits them.” — Sarah Pavlik, business manager, LSM Chiropractic

Click here for more Best Places to Work 2019.