President and CEO
Last year, Sheboygan-based Acuity was named the best mid-sized employer in the nation by the Great Place to Work Institute. Businesses that provide a high-quality work environment perform at a higher level, according to Acuity president and chief executive officer Ben Salzmann. Salzmann shares his insights about the merits of being a preferred employer.
“There’s an investment businesses can make that they will recoup countless times over in terms of greater return on equity, improved employee productivity and increased customer satisfaction and retention. It’s an investment that involves no risk and delivers high rewards: creating an excellent workplace.
“We’ve seen the results of our efforts first-hand as we’ve outperformed our industry in growth and profitability for the past decade.
“Companies that are unwilling to invest in their workplace fail to consider the true costs of having an employee-unfriendly environment. Our biggest competitors run a turnover rate of more than 10 percent, whereas we average just 1 percent. The amount we spend to make our company a top workplace pales in comparison to what we would need to spend to recruit, hire, and train enough employees to backfill vacancies created by a 10-percent turnover — not to mention the lost productivity during the three years, on average, it takes to get new hires up to full speed.
“According to the Great Place to Work Institute, the best companies to work for perform better financially and are better-prepared to weather economic downturns. They receive more qualified job applicants, have higher employee retention, and foster greater innovation, creativity, and risk-taking. They enjoy higher customer loyalty and develop a reputation as an organization that can be trusted.
“With our low turnover, our company has a stable, experienced, and satisfied staff. We are more efficient and productive. We are making better decisions in critical areas such as underwriting and claims. This has a huge impact on both our bottom and top line, as well as the level of service we provide to our customers.
“Being a top employer takes commitment. It involves listening to and actively engaging employees, devoting resources to benefits and training, and investing in the tools and technology to help employees do their jobs best. And it doesn’t happen overnight: it took years for Acuity to change from being a traditional, top-down organization to a collaborative, employee-focused enterprise.
“But as our results have proven year after year, the effort has been worth it. Why don’t our competitors make the investment in their employees? I don’t know. But as long as they don’t, we will continue to outperform them, year after year.”