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Area employers earn honors

June 23, 2012
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Several area businesses, locally based and otherwise, recently were named Top Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune.

Businesses were broken up into three categories: large companies, with 500-plus employees; medium companies, with 150-499 employees; and small companies, with 50-149 employees.

Among the large companies were FedEx, at No. 5; Kwik Trip at No. 6; AgStar Financial Services at No. 8; Thrivent Financial for Lutherans at No. 21; and U.S. Bancorp at No. 30. No medium-size companies with operations in this area were on the list. One small company named in this area was Anytime Fitness Inc. at No. 5.

Another local business scored high enough to qualify as a Top Workplace against a national benchmark, though it did not score high enough to make the Top 100 Workplaces. Profinium Financial ranked high when compared to the national standard, and barely missed making the Top 100 list.

Mike Riley, chief retail and marketing officer for Profinium, said this was the first year the local business asked its employees to take the online survey, and management was surprised by the results.

"We thought we probably wouldn't make it the first year," Riley said, but 91 percent of the employees participated in the anonymous survey and their responses were obviously positive.

"We found out we were 48th for small companies, but Minnesota has such a strong employee workplace culture ... if we'd been in another part of the country we would have scored higher," Riley said.

He also noted that companies don't participate in the survey if they aren't confident about their employees' job satisfaction.

"We're excited about the honor and we got a lot of good information to try to improve even further," he said.

The Workplace Dynamics survey shows the biggest factors impacting how employees feel about their jobs aren't necessarily what you'd expect. On a percentage scale, with 100 being the highest, direction was ranked at 74 percent. Conditions was 73 percent. Pay and benefits? Only 49 percent.

Most of the things Profinium does to boost its workers' morale are team-work building exercises, which has proven to be effective.

A few years ago, the finance and banking company came under new management.

"The new leadership embraced this philosophy: If you take care of your employees, it will show through to your customers," Riley said.

Profinium hired a consultant to think up ideas that would further boost workers' spirits. One thing since that they have adopted is to the creation of an E Team. Team members meet on Fridays and talk about ways to boost morale within the bank and participate in the community. An example is the Interlaken Heritage Days Parade, when 45 employees and family members - including executives - danced their way through town.

Profinium also has huddles every Monday morning before the bank opens for the day to customers. They start by sharing success stories, and then talk about a theme for the week and sometimes play a game that teaches them something about banking, working together, etc. Employees take turns leading the huddles, so that everyone in the building has an opportunity to show their leadership skills and creativity.

"Everybody wins," Riley said. "The customer wins and the bank wins and the employees feel better about themselves."

Communication is also important.

"We try to let everybody know what's going on. We try to be transparent," Riley said.

Profinium has three offices - in Fairmont, Truman and Owatonna - with 75 employees altogether.

The company also was named one of the top 20 oldest companies in the Star Tribune's Top Workplaces list. It was founded in 1875 in Fairmont, though its name - Martin County National Bank - and locations have changed.



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