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What They Do
Provide property and casualty insurance policies to families and businesses in 20 states across the country.
Headquarters: Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Annual Revenues: $983 Million.
What Makes Acuity. Great
Not many insurance companies set up a Ferris wheel inside their building or give away iPads to every single employee. At Acuity, though, employees say those are just some of the constant signs of appreciation that set the company apart. Other gestures include quarterly seasonal gifts, a cafeteria with menu items that are 50 percent subsidized, and an on-site garden where employees can sign up to tend their own vegetable plots. Ninety-seven percent of their employees say they celebrate special events regularly at Acuity, citing a chocolate fair, a circus, lunch-time comedians, game shows and a talent contest. "There’s always something special going on that shows employees here they are valued," one says.
Roughly a quarter of Acuity’s 900 full-time employees have been with the company longer than 15 years, and voluntary turnover is just 2 percent. It doesn’t seem like those statistics will change for a while: 92 percent of Acuity’s staff report that they actually look forward to coming to work, and the same ratio hope to stay with the company for a long time.
Acuity sets a positive tone from the beginning. In addition to receiving flowers and personal notes , new employees see their name in lights on the company kiosks as they enter the building on their first day, and find their cubicles decorated in welcome. Everyone receives a goodie bag on their first day, which includes snacks, office supplies and a free lunch ticket.
The goodies and appreciation new employees receive set the stage for the rest of their tenure at Acuity. The company’s appreciation for employees’ work is such a pervasive part of their culture that it’s hard to do it justice. There are multiple systems to recognize employees who earn positive feedback from clients, vendors and peers. Every year the company publishes a list of the company’s “Top 100 Accomplishments” which credits all employees involved. President and chief executive officer Ben Salzmann uses Ben’s Gossip Line to personally thank staff for their impact on the company’s bottom line. Acuity hosts numerous formal lunches to celebrate everything from employees’ service to completing educational milestones.
Acuity marks most occasions with gift cards and creative presents. Even the changing of the seasons is a chance to celebrate, with employees receiving a pumpkin pie in the Fall and a pot of tulips in the Spring. One manager left flowers on each of her employees’ desks after they earned an additional state adjusters license. This year’s annual holiday gift was a suitcase filled with 50 pounds of gourmet goodies, a gift card, and tickets to a holiday show.
The company works hard to ensure that everyone has a chance to receive this recognition. "If the HQ employees get gifts, so do the field employees,” one employee says. “When they have the holiday party in the HQ, field employees get a free dinner with their spouse." Acuity’s facilities team responded to an emergency one day, only to find cheers and presents waiting for them. Ninety-one percent of employees say they are treated as a full member of the team regardless of position.
Beyond the fun, supportive work environment, employees are working hard. Employees almost universally describe managers as competent leaders, with a clear vision for the business, who behave honestly and ethically. For their part, employees say that their colleagues are cooperative, team-oriented, and willing to give extra to get the job done.
Ninety-five percent of employees say they have a lot of responsibility. "I have never worked for a company that gave me so much responsibility and trusted me to do a good job," one employee says. The company offers a tuition reimbursement program with no dollar limit for job-related courses and classes. Employees can get reimbursed for related costs such as practice exams and related books. Employees have use of a company human resources training library with more than 300 books, audiotapes and DVDs to improve hard or soft skills in areas such as leadership, customer service or software technology.
To compensate for all this hard work, 9 out of ten Acuity employees report that not only are they paid fairly for what they do, but they receive a fair share of the company’s profits. Despite the sluggish economy, Acuity has continued to contribute to employees’ 401(k) programs, pay merit increases and deliver cash bonuses to employees, and completely avoid layoffs.
Given this environment, many employees struggle to think of anything that could be improved, typically sharing requests that might make their individual lives easier, but not reporting widespread shared concerns. On the whole, 95 percent of Acuity’s employees say it is a great workplace. "Management gives the employees the feeling that they really care about their opinions and well-being," says one staff member. "Employees are treated as one of a very large family."
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