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Fun, food and financial benefits ease workforce challenges

Acuity Insurance reaps rewards of unique workplace culture

SHEBOYGAN, WI. AUG. 12, 2021 – Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes visited Acuity Insurance’s Sheboygan headquarters today to highlight the company’s innovative investments in their employees and unique workplace culture.

“As I travel Wisconsin to tell people about Governor Evers’ latest initiatives to enhance our workforce, I want to highlight some businesses that have made innovative investments in their people and are seeing the rewards,” Hughes said. “Acuity prioritized their employee culture investing in good wages and benefits, education and fun perks. They’ve been rewarded with extremely low turnover and many applicants for each job opening.”

Last month, Gov. Tony Evers announced $130 million in funding for three workforce programs to help Wisconsin recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build an economy for the future. The initiatives are:

  • $100 million Workforce Innovation grant program to encourage regions and communities to develop leading-edge, long-term solutions to the workforce challenges the state faces in the wake of COVID-19;
  • $20 million toward the Worker Advancement Initiative, which will offer subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers to unemployed individuals; and
  • $10 million for a Worker Connection Program, which will provide workforce career coaches who will connect with individuals attempting to reengage in the workforce post pandemic.

Acuity’s leadership has made a commitment to employee well-being and gratitude for each worker’s contributions, said Ben Salzmann, Acuity’s President and CEO. The company has seen its investment in workers repaid with an exceptionally low turnover rate of about 2% and huge numbers of applicants when openings do occur. In 2020, for example, Acuity received nearly 6,000 applications for 111 positions.

“Acuity’s employee-focused culture and fierce respect for the individual have made us the employer of choice in the insurance industry,” Salzmann said. “We are guided by our mission of protecting and enhancing the well-being of our customers and helping them rebuild shattered lives when disaster strikes, and we are committed to our Common Purpose, which begins by saying, ‘With kind hearts, we dare to care for our family of employees.’”

Acuity has been honored nationally for its positive workplace culture. The company’s Sheboygan headquarters includes: a 65-foot Ferris wheel, dubbed the Charity Wheel, three Olympic sized basketball courts, a fitness center, ping pong tables, a climbing wall and more. Perks include free food for employees and their families – including weekly dinners with open bar and many celebratory events.

The business has also received international attention for their record-setting American flag and flagpole that’s clearly visible from Interstate 43 and has become a landmark for the area.

“Most Wisconsin employers aren’t going to put a Ferris wheel in their buildings or start offering massage therapy and dinners with open bars,” Hughes said. “But I think Wisconsin employers can learn something from Acuity’s success.”

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Invest in people.
    • Acuity pays their employees well and offers good benefits with the company paying 85 percent of health insurance costs.
    • The company also offers an unlimited education reimbursement as well as training. Every year about 10% of employees are promoted into new roles.
  • Share the success and the profits.
    • Acuity puts approximately 10 percent of an employee’s salary into their 401k account each year with no required employee match.
    • CEO Salzmann and his executive team know the power of the words “Thank You” and they use them – often.
    • The company plans celebrations for their employees and families and invests in a facility that offers workers perks like free fitness center access.
  • Support the community.
    • Acuity employees are able decide how to divide up the company’s annual $500,000 year-end charitable donation amongst a number of charities.
    • The Annual Acuity Health Challenge – a 2-mile or 5K run or walk – raises thousands for local charities.
    • Even the employee celebrations such as Free-for-All Wednesdays can benefit the community. On Wednesdays, Acuity’s cafeteria provides free breakfast and lunch for employees. That evening local restaurants, food trucks and caterers are brought in to provide dinner for employees, their families and guests. The Wednesday events can offer area restaurants whose revenues have been hit hard by the pandemic income during a time when gatherings are uncertain.