Great Places to Work
Right now, lots of us are happy just to get a paycheck that doesn’t bounce. But there are dozens of companies in Minnesota that offer employees something more, from generous retirement plans and cool office environs to subsidized child-care and no-cost health care. Here, 48 companies that treat their employees like customers.
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You knew times were tough when Google axed the free snack bars. But with the economy in a nosedive and retail sales slumping faster than a frat boy post-bender, companies are making cutbacks. The perks of the 1990s—trips to Fiji for mail-room clerks, laptops for mascots—are long gone. ¶ Business ain’t bad all over, though. Looking for rays of hope amid a gloomy forecast, Minnesota Monthly asked consultants, academics, and workplace experts to name companies that offer benefits that are unique or above-average or astonishingly generous. Then we called up the companies to verify the rumors. What we discovered surprised us. Small and big, these employers cared about their employees—and they made efforts to keep them humming and happy. Don’t believe such places exist? Take a look. Maybe it’s time to dust off that resumé.
GREAT FOR HEALTH CARE
44 Minnesota employees
If you haven’t seen an increasingly bigger chunk of your paycheck going to health care in recent years you’re either: (1) among the 7 percent of Minnesotans who don’t actually have any health insurance, or (2) you work at SALA Architects, a small Twin Cities–based home-design firm that covers 100 percent of health-care premiums for employees. Of course, offering complete medical and dental care is expensive, says SALA principal Katherine Hillbrand, but managers believe it pays off in worker loyalty. “When it comes down to why people work here, I think that’s one of the reasons,” Hillbrand says. “It’s a draw and it helps us keep steady employment.”
The firm doesn’t pick up the cost of putting family members on the plan, but they’re eligible if an employee wants to add them and premiums can be paid pre-tax. “I have no complaints about the coverage we have,” says Ann Hauer, a designer with the firm’s Stillwater office who enrolled her son in the plan. Though she only works 30 hours a week, she still gets the same coverage available to full-time employees at SALA. “A few years ago, I had hip surgery and everything was covered,” Hauer recalls. “I can’t imagine having big premiums and huge deductibles.”
Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
4,000 Minnesota employees
Unlimited care. No copays. Access to four different clinics owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux. All tallied, it’s a good bet that Mystic Lake workers and their families have access to one of the best, most-affordable health-care plans in Minnesota.
5,400 Minnesota employees
Employees at headquarters have access to an on-site health clinic that provides no-cost same-day appointments for flu shots, lab work, x-rays, dermatology services, physical therapy, eyeglass services, and more.
GREAT FOR WELLNESS PROGRAMS
8,000 Minnesota employees
The county developed the HealthWorks program to emphasize employee wellness. There are seminars and classes about everything from smoking cessation to laughter yoga. “It’s a continuum of health,” says Jill Hamilton, the HealthWorks’ director. At the Government Center in Minneapolis, there is an on-site clinic that offers free services; and employees have access to flu shots and screenings for blood glucose, bone density, and body composition. To encourage employees to fit exercise into their lives, there is a reimbursement plan known as “Trade Time for Fitness.” It allows workers to use the monetary equivalent of unused sick days to be reimbursed up to $1,500 per year for health-club memberships and pay for fitness-equipment purchases. Over the last three years, Bob Smutka, a senior human-resources representative, has used the program to buy a bicycle, weights, a Bowflex machine, and a bike trainer that allows him to use his cycle indoors. “I’m more active now,” he says, adding that he’s lost 20 percent of his body weight since buying the equipment.
“It gets you started exercising and then you build from there.”
4,500 Minnesota employees
At any Minute Clinics (including the one at Carlson Companies’ headquarters), employee copays for services are just $5. An internal “BeWell” website publicizes such programs as yoga at the office, and the company recently began offering an online tool for managing personal health records.
Dakota Electric Association
214 Minnesota employees
The company offers generous health-club reimbursements, brown-bag lunches on topics such as “emotional intelligence,” and an annual health fair with free melanoma and cholesterol screenings. A “Biggest Loser” club encouraged employees to lose a combined 1,820 pounds over three years.
GREAT FOR FITNESS FACILITIES
32,000 Minnesota employees
To provide better care for patients, Mayo Clinic employees are encouraged to take care of themselves. The philosophy becomes reality at the 115,000-square-foot Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center, which opened in 2007. Employees, retirees, and immediate family can join for $25 a month. If an employee uses the gym at least 15 times during three months, the fee is reduced.
In Rochester, 44 percent of the 32,000 employees belong to the club. The facility includes a women-only studio, an indoor track, and a demonstration kitchen for healthy-cooking instruction. Caer Vitek, an education coordinator at Mayo, has been a member for three years. “If I couldn’t get in a workout, there’s no way I could do a desk job,” she says.
197 Minnesota employees
Recently relocated to a new space, the company has a free in-house fitness facility, with a locker room and sweeping views of downtown Minneapolis from the 23rd floor of the AT&T Building. A personal trainer keeps an office on the premises, too.
525 Minnesota employees
For $10 a month, employees can join Energy Zone. Open 24 hours a day, the facility has a variety of workout equipment, a meditation room and studios for yoga and Pilates classes. There’s also an on-site registered nurse and a six-month wellness plan that tracks overall health.