Public Policy Forum Blog

Wisconsin leads in great places to work

The 2008 list of the 50 best small and medium companies to work for in America, released this week by the Great Place to Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management, has more companies in Wisconsin (7) than in any other state. The rankings are the result of employee surveys and a company culture audit.

Does having happy employees make a difference to the economy? According to the Great Place to Work Institute, the firms on the list of 100 Best Places to Work have outperformed the S&P 500 every year since 1998, with some years seeing double the return of the S&P.

One explanation may be that employees seem to value training and professional development opportunities, which are frequently cited by employees in "good" companies. An atmosphere in which risk-taking is encouraged is another aspect that makes employees happy and may help the bottom line.

If the prevailing corporate culture in Wisconsin is different than in other states, that could help bolster our economy during a national recession. It's something to think about when policymakers are faced with decisions that impact employers.

Wisconsin's representatives among small companies (50-250 employees) include:
Badger Mining Corporation, Berlin
Kahler Slater, Milwaukee
Runzheimer International, Rochester
Cascade Asset Management, Madison

Among medium companies (251-999 employees):
ACUITY, Sheboygan
Stark Investments, St. Francis
4imprint, Inc., Oshkosh

In addition, Wisconsin had three companies on the 2008 "100 Best" list of larger firms:
Johnson Financial Group, Racine
Robert W. Baird, Milwaukee
S.C. Johnson & Son, Racine

Anneliese Dickman