Wisconsin’s 10 Best Places to Work for Young Professionals
The Bubbler Awards, founded by NEWaukee in 2012, previously recognized individuals who were “bubbling up” in their careers and communities. This is the first year the Bubbler Awards honor the 10 Best Places to Work for Young Professionals in Wisconsin. We’ve recognizing places that propel the careers of young professionals in new ways. The companies recognized were nominated by their employees, evaluated and selected by a group of young professional leaders from across the state. The businesses were judged on what Millennials are looking for in today’s workplace: competitive salary and benefits, opportunity for advancement, schedule flexibility and employee and community engagement.
Based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Associated Bank takes employee benefits to the next level by offering adoption assistance, domestic partner benefits, paternity leave, tuition reimbursement and five consecutive working days out of the office annual requirement – so vacations are required!
Additionally, Associated Bank has well-established employee resource groups, including a Young Professional chapter that affords associates the opportunity to establish relationships with their peers, further their professional development and make a difference in the community.
The banks hosts regular Town Hall meetings to allow for access to leadership and regularly the VPs of the company participate in the activities planned by the associates. Employees boast that this access to leadership provides clear direction and enables consistent, open communication, as well as colleagues’ understanding and support for the direction of the organization.
Based in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, as a leader in retail, fashion matters at Kohl’s. The Yes to Your Style Program allows all corporate associates to wear jeans and dress casual EVERY DAY! Twice a year, associates are invited to shopping events with deep discounts, keeping both associate’s wardrobes and wallets full!
Kohl’s knows what goes into those clothes is just as important as offering a state of the art wellness center, onsite spa, full service pharmacy and expecting parent program called BabyBumps.
The company also hosts a full service, full time Concierge Program. This is a dedicated person who acts as a personal assistant to every associate and is 100% free. From running your personal errands like returning items to the store or picking up items for your family at the grocery store like the gallon of milk you forgot, this service eliminates employee stress and allows for high levels of productivity both at work and home.
Kohl’s encourages associates to make a difference by volunteering in their communities through the Associates in Action program, which recognizes associate volunteer efforts with grants to qualified nonprofit organizations.
Based Wausau, Wisconsin, transparency and high levels of communication are greatly valued at Greenheck. Year-round, a program called the Pit Stop gives employees the opportunity to brainstorm and to put into motion a resolution to make an established process or procedure more lean and to reduce the money and time it takes to do it. The Pit Stops include employees who do not work directly with one another, allowing for interdepartmental exchange and for opinion and bright ideas of young associates to be both heard and implemented. Hundreds, if not thousands, of pit stops happen each year.
Additionally, Greenheck places high value on personal and professional development of its employees. Training classes are offered to increase associates’ marketability and actionability.
Finally, at Greenheck, business is extremely important, but family comes first. Employees are encouraged to spend time with family and loved ones. Taking and making time for a personal life is prioritized.
Harley-Davidson is a legacy brand that sets Wisconsin apart. Employees of Harley-Davidson do more than simply sell those famous bikes, they are encouraged to ride them as well! All associates are offered deep discounts on motorcycle purchases and on any given day, the parking lots that surround the headquarters are gleaming with chrome!
To spark creative thinking, Harley-Davidson hosts an Innovation Challenge yearly which solicits employees to develop business ideas and concepts to support strategic initiatives. Employees work in teams to develop their concept and pitch the idea to a “shark tank-style panel” comprised of representatives from leadership.
Harley-Davidson has established a philanthropic foundation to meet the basic needs of the communities where the company works, to improve the lives of their stakeholders and to encourage social responsibility.
Finally, Harley-Davidson lives into its brand by offering relaxed, open common spaces for employees to work and a “jeans only” requirement for the dress code.
Robert W. Baird, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, loves to have a good time with its “Fun Committees” that are allocated a budget to organize social and non-business related events for all employees.
On the development side of things, Baird’s Associate Resource Groups provide opportunities to network, promote personal and professional growth, enhance career development, and a stronger sense of community within the company. Each group is made up of and led by associates, who come from many different roles and all levels at Baird, with senior leader involvement to provide structure, guidance and funding, as well as to help implement improvements and ideas.
Finding balance is important at Baird. All employees have access to a confidential online risk assessment that evaluates lifestyle habits, such as nutrition, physical activity, stress and wellbeing. This program provides immediate, personalized feedback on areas where an individual can improve his/her lifestyle. Additionally, individualized coaching, onsite yoga classes and wellness workshops ensure that the human is prioritized in human resources!
Shoutlet is a company working in the exciting, fast-paced and constantly changing industry of social media. This Madison-based company keeps its culture fast-paced and evolving as well.
As a small operation, every employee’s opinion matters and impacts the company. Employees interact directly with the C-level staff on a regular basis. And the CEO provides more than just feedback. Recently Shoutlet hosted a “”Beat the CEO”” ping pong tournament where money raised was donated to Second Harvest food bank. In the past, an Oreo eating contest with the CEO yielded cash prizes for the winners.
The size of the company allows for greater cross-departmental interaction, personal advancement and autonomy. Shoutlet has a flexible paid time off policy with no set number of days allowing for greater work life balance and each employee to take off the time they need from year to year. The value is placed on work output and quality over the time an employee is actually sitting in his or her chair at the office.
To encourage innovation, the development team also has regular “Hackathons” where they break into teams and create whatever they want and whatever they think would be best for improving the product.
As the only representative from the healthcare industry, it’s no surprise that United Hospital System, based in Kenosha, Wi, places great value on its employee’s health and well being. The company offers free flu shots, tobacco cessation programs, 24/7 fitness center and farmer’s markets in the summer months.
The organization provides many different positions and schedules to accommodate their employees. Varying positions require employees to work on the weekends only, PMs, AMs, and part-time or resource pool (per diem).
The Education Department of United Hospital System holds training sessions for employees throughout the year and library onsite for the employees to use as reference if and when needed. There are also opportunities for tuition reimbursement program for employees to take advantage of each semester.
Once a year, the organization hosts a mission and heritage week where, employees are recognized by receiving a Shining Star Award.
As an inbound marketing agency, Weidert Group’s growth and business development has largely been through online channels. Specifically, the “Whole Brain Marketing Blog,” Weidert’s daily publication, has been recognized by many marketers as a top-value blog for thought leadership and marketing advice.
Every employee at Weidert Group is integrally involved as an author on the Whole Brain Marketing Blog. From the president to new employees, Weidert holds equalizing brainstorming sessions where everybody’s ideas are valid, and anybody can become a star author. Employees throughout the company have commented that these writing brainstorm sessions are among the most exciting and rewarding meetings they’re apart of.
In addition, Weidert’s management is very inclusive for meetings, and peripheral staff are often brought into meetings to provide outside-the-box insight or simply to learn more about a different part of the company.
Ritualistically, every Thursday is Beer:30 at Weidert Group—no exceptions. Whether the day is busy or staff has looming deadlines, all of the employees end the day early and grab a beer in fellowship.
Based in Waukesha, Wi, the z2 office was built around the idea of teamwork and creativity. The company tagline is INSPIRE, and this is shown throughout the office in artwork, comfortable yet stylish furnishings, and music constantly playing through the office.
Unique rooms throughout the office include a cafe with couches and a fireplace, commons area with television and sliding barn doors to showcase new projects and host team share meetings, a production room to complete projects as a team, photo studio and recording studio open to all employees at any time.
The two principles of the company position themselves as team members with their open door policy and encouragement of continuing education and community involvement. Bi-weekly team meetings are a responsibility of all members, including principals. Annual 360 evaluations include every person within the organization, so a deeper look can be taken at the company as a whole.
Z2 performs pro bono work for Susan G Komen of Southeast Wisconsin and their annual Race for the Cure, encouraging staff to participation in the race.
Each Friday late afternoon, all staff is invited to the bar area in their cafe to unwind and get together for “Cosmo Friday.”
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, collaboration is key at Zendesk. Every year, the 24-hour Zendevian Cup encourages small groups of employees around the globe to collaborate on a custom App that extends the functionality of their software and compete for the top prize and a custom hoodie!
Monthly Madison Town Hall allows employees to voice opinions, ask questions and/or provide comments during a very informal meeting. For those not comfortable speaking in front of large groups, Zendesk also offers an anonymous question forum where employees are encouraged to ask questions as to how they can all better the work environment and product.
Every month, Lunch & Learns inform internal departments of projects or initiatives in other departments they may not interact with and a space that encourages staff to connect.
Managers regularly promote a healthy work / life balance, reminding employees to take vacation and stay happy, especially with Unlimited Paid Time Off!
If all of that isn’t enough, the Zendesk offices boast beautiful views of the state Capitol, and both lakes!