Business Ledger honors best places to work in Illinois

 
 
Updated 5/13/2016 12:04 PM
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  • Lisa Pinion of Assurance of Schaumburg accepts the first-place award for medium-sized companies during the Daily Herald Business Ledger's 10th annual Best Places to Work in Illinois award ceremony Wednesday at the Oak Brook Hill Resort & Conference Center in Oak Brook.

      Lisa Pinion of Assurance of Schaumburg accepts the first-place award for medium-sized companies during the Daily Herald Business Ledger's 10th annual Best Places to Work in Illinois award ceremony Wednesday at the Oak Brook Hill Resort & Conference Center in Oak Brook. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • 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.

      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 | Staff Photographer

  • Genie Green of Duke Realty accepts the first- place award for large companies Wednesday night in Oak Brook.

      Genie Green of Duke Realty accepts the first- place award for large companies Wednesday night in Oak Brook. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • 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.

      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 | Staff Photographer

  • 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.

      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 | Staff Photographer

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.

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