Business Ledger honors best places to work in Illinois

What makes a company a great place to work? Engaged employees who enjoy good benefits, flexible work opportunities and a chance to help the communities they live in become a better place.

A daily cup of Starbucks coffee doesn't hurt, either.

A total of 74 companies were honored Wednesday evening during the 2015 Best Places to Work in Illinois program hosted by the Daily Herald Business Ledger. About 370 people attended the 10th annual event at the Oak Brook Hills Resort & Conference Center.

The statewide survey and awards program identifies and honors businesses whose work environments benefit its workforce, business and the state economy. The companies were classified in one of three categories based on number of employees and ranked based on a written survey of the company and interviews with a sampling of its employees.

Best Places to Work in Illinois winners enjoy a high amount of employee engagement, according to Peter Burke, president of Best Companies Group, which manages the awards program. While companies in the U.S. average around 41 percent employee engagement, the 72 companies honored average 91 percent employee engagement.

“That is incredible,” Burke said. “You are the cream of the crop, the best of the best.”

While companies were notified that they were among the honorees, they did not know their ranking until the event

The No. 1 company in the small business category, between 15-99 employees, is Radio Flyer Inc. of Chicago, which manufactures the iconic toy red wagon. The company is known for connecting its employees, known as “Flyers,” to the brand so they can feel like kids again.

They host more than 20 annual events to engender just that feeling. Radio Flyer offers 100 percent employer paid medical and dental coverage, profit-sharing, tuition reimbursement, paid volunteer time off, summer hours, an on-site health assessment program, and chair massage & wellness reimbursement among their workplace features.

“It matters if we're a good employer because it really does impact the lives of our employees and the communities that we serve” said Amy Bastuga, Radio Flyer vice president of human resources. “Everybody in this room knows it's not about the perks ... what it's really about is creating meaningful work for individuals where they can contribute in an environment where were they feel like they are a part of the contribution.”

The top company in the medium-sized category, between 100-499 employees, is Assurance of Schaumburg. The non-health care insurance company is one of the largest independent brokers in the United States. Among the company's perks are free Starbucks coffee and snacks, and an on-site dry cleaner. Employees are given a paid day off to do charity work. Assurance provides a quarterly event known as Assurance Casino, and there are the company Olympics, in which employees participate in competitive hula-hooping and tricycle races. Employee Appreciation Day happens every summer at a key Chicago location.

“We believe happy employees equal happy clients, so everything that we do has employees at the heart,” said Lisa Pinion, senior vice president of human resources at Assurance. “If it's not the right thing for people, it's not the right thing for our clients and we just won't do it.”

The top company in the large-sized category, with more than 500 employees, is Duke Realty of Indianapolis, Indiana, with a regional office in Rosemont. Duke Realty is one of the largest commercial real estate companies in the country managing approximately 156 million square feet of industrial, office and medical office properties in 17 major metropolitan areas. Among the company's opportunities are telecommuting and four-day workweek plans. Its Wellness program offers points for performance that can be used in a virtual mall, and on Fitness Fridays employees get 20 minutes of exercise time to start their day.

As one of its charitable functions, employees in the Rosemont office volunteered their time to help clean the grounds of the Ronald McDonald House.

“I'm a very small voice in a really great chorus known as Duke,” said Genie Green, executive administrator at Duke Realty. “Our people come up with great ideas, and our management decides to employ those ideas.”

Detailed profiles of the top companies and other winners will be featured in a special section of the June 22 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger.

The Best Places to Work in Illinois program is presented by the Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago (HRMAC), the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, the Workforce Boards of Metropolitan Chicago, MRA — The Management Association and the Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce. Presenting sponsors of this year's recognition event are B. Gunther & Co., and Northern Illinois University Graduate School of Business.

  Amy Bastuga of Radio Flyer accepts the 1st place award for Small Employers during the Daily Herald Business Ledger's 10th annual Best Places to Work in Illinois award ceremony at the Oak Brook Hill Resort & Conference Center in Oak Brook Wednesday night. Mark Black/
  Genie Green of Duke Realty accepts the first- place award for large companies Wednesday night in Oak Brook. Mark Black/
  Mary Davenport of TransTech IT Staffing of Itasca accepts the 5th place award for Small Employers during the Daily Herald Business Ledger's 10th annual Best Places to Work in Illinois award ceremony at the Oak Brook Hill Resort & Conference Center in Oak Brook Wednesday night. Mark Black/
  The group from Alliance Disaster Kleenup of Wheeling cheers as their company ranks 4th in the Small Employer division during the Daily Herald Business Ledger 10th annual Best Places to Work in Illinois award ceremony at the Oak Brook Hill Resort & Conference Center in Oak Brook. Mark Black/

2015 Best Places to Work in Illinois

SMALL COMPANIES (15-99 employees)

1. Radio Flyer Inc., Chicago

2. Weiss & Company LLP, Glenview

3. MotherG, Itasca

4. Alliance Disaster Kleenup, Wheeling

5. TransTech IT Staffing, Itasca

6. Black Diamond Plumbing & Mechanical, Crystal Lake

7. Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC, Itasca

8. Grid Connect Inc., Naperville

9. StratEx Partners, Chicago

10. Pepper Group, Palatine

11. Synergy Builders, Inc., W. Chicago

12. Magenium Solutions, LLC, Glen Ellyn

13. BPC, Champaign

14. Adage Technologies, Chicago

15. Warady & Davis LLP, Deerfield

16. Mueller, Elgin

17. Kutchins, Robbins & Diamond, Ltd. (KRD), Schaumburg

18. Merit Solutions Inc., Wheaton

19. American Bottoms Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, Sauget

20. Chicago Fluid System Technologies, Glendale Heights

21. R.J. Augustine & Associates LTD., CPAs, Palatine

22. Common Sense Solutions Inc., Lombard

23. Evergreen Bank Group, Oak Brook

24. IPMG, St. Charles

25. The Salem Group, Oakbrook Terrace

26. CDH, P.C., Itasca

27. Thomas Interior Systems, Bloomingdale

28. The Mx Group, Burr Ridge

29. W.E. Carlson Corporation, Elk Grove Village

30. 3Points, LLC, Oak Brook

31. Michael Silver & Company CPAs, Skokie

MID-SIZED COMPANIES (100-499 employees)

1. Assurance, Schaumburg

2. Skender Construction, Chicaho

3. CompTIA, Downers Grove

4. LaSalle Network, Chicago

5. Pariveda Solutions, Dallas, TX

6. Clarity Solution Group, Chicago

7. Domino Amjet, Inc., Gurnee

8. Meda Pharmaceuticals, Decatur

9. Sundance Vacations, Wilkes-Barre, PA

10. Omron Automation and Safety, Hoffman Estates

11. ARCO/Murray, Downers Grove

12. Sonoma Partners, LLC, Chicago

13. National Futures Association, Chicago

14. Advanced Resources LLC, Downers Grove

15. Impact Networking, LLC, Waukegan

16. Redwood Logistics, Chicago

17. Hanson Professional Services Inc., Springfield

18. Porte Brown, Elk Grove Village

19. Spark, Chicago

20. Physicians Interactive, Inc., Libertyville

21. EMKAY, Inc., Itasca

22. Corptax, Inc., Deerfield

23. Association Management Center, Chicago

24. Call One, Chicago

25. NCSA Athletic Recruiting, Chicago

26. Abercrombie & Kent, Downers Grove

LARGE COMPANIES (500-plus employees)

1. Duke Realty, Indianapolis, IN

2. Edward Jones, Long Beach, CA

3. WestPoint Financial Group, Peoria

4. Insperity, Kingwood, TX

5. Ryan LLC, Dallas, TX

6. Sheppard Mullin, Chicago

7. Sikich LLP, Naperville

8. Lockton Companies, LLC, Chicago

9. Burns & McDonnell, Downers Grove

10. Crowe Horwath LLP, Phoenix, AZ

11. Littelfuse, Inc., Chicago

12. Diageo, Plainfield

13. Starcom, Chicago

14. Total Quality Logistics, Cincinnati, OH

15. Wiley Education Solutions, Oak Brook

16. Advocate Health Care, Downers Grove

17. ATI Physical Therapy, Bolingbrook

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