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Benefits of creativity

With the competition for quality workers growing fierce, area companies become more creative in structuring their benefits packages.

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Winner: Large Company

Badgerland Financial: Seeking healthy returns

Well-traveled staff: Employees of Badgerland Financial, pictured here in the company’s Sun Prairie location, receive a vehicle for their personal and business use if they drive 6,000 or more business miles in a given year. The benefit is offered because the company serves people in rural areas of the state, requiring employees to rack up the miles.

Badgerland Financial is in the business of extending credit to farmers, but in the interest of a healthy workforce, it gives employees some credit, too. The company has established a Stay Well – Healthy Returns program at no cost to employees, spouses, and domestic partners who are on the company medical plan.

Named for Badgerland Financial’s wellness vendor, the program offers healthy living information along with one-on-one coaching over the phone. Those employees who wish to participate are required to complete a health assessment as well as annual biometric screenings for height, weight, blood pressure, total cholesterol, and glucose. Once a baseline is established, employees can track progress toward their goals over time. Employees can participate in a variety of “take-action” programs, including community activities, and in return the company provides monetary incentives. Each participant can earn up to $300 per year.

Tom Blackbourn, vice president of human resources for Badgerland Financial, says the company committed to a wellness program to help improve the overall physical, mental, and emotional well being of employees and their families. “We also hope that focusing on wellness will not only improve overall health but also help control health care costs,” he states.

Badgerland Financial is part of the national Farm Credit System and partners with more than 40 other farm credit organizations to offer benefits like Stay Well – Healthy Returns, but it doesn’t stop there. The company also has an Automobile Program for employees who drive 6,000 or more business miles in a year. Under the program, Badgerland will purchase a vehicle for their personal and business use, and the employee pays a monthly and personal mileage usage charge. “Since our business is to serve people in rural Wisconsin, employees often have to travel a considerable amount to reach the communities we serve,” Blackbourn explains.

Work-life balance, employee recognition and engagement, and financial education are additional hallmarks of Badgerland’s benefits package, and all benefits are mutually beneficial. One of its newer programs, a retirement notice award, provides a monetary bonus for employees who give at least 12 months notice before they retire, allowing the company to put a transition plan in place and hire a replacement to work with the retiring employee and get to know customers. The rationale, Blackbourn indicates, is to transfer a lifetime of know-how before it heads out the door. “We have many tenured employees who have extensive customer knowledge and experience that we try to transfer to new employees by allowing time for them to work together through a focused transition plan.”

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