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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.

(page 4 of 4)

Winner: Small Company

Leonardo Academy: Sustaining the workplace

Leonardo Academy believes in sustainability, including a sustainable benefits package in which workers have a choice of responsible investment options as part of the company’s 403b program. Offered through MassMutual, the special-equities program promotes the company’s values with investments in environmental stewardship and a prohibition on funds that invest in weaponry.

Michael Arny is fond of citing the three components of sustainability — environment, economic prosperity, and people — and his company’s benefits package is primarily about the latter. For Arny, the president of Leonardo Academy, a Madison-based nonprofit organization that works with companies to advance sustainability, taking good care of employees is aligned with organizational values.

“The traditional environmental movement is focused on reducing emissions and other impacts on the environment, but sustainability has expanded the view of what’s important if we’re going to take good care of life on this planet,” Arny states. “The two things that have been added are thinking about how the decisions we make, both as companies and as individuals, affect people as well as the environment, and second, how we contribute to economic prosperity. We think taking care of our employees is a very important part of fulfilling our mission.”

When Leonardo Academy was looking for a new office, parameters of the search included bike racks, shower facilities, and proximity to a bike path, and its new digs in the Gialamas Co. office building, at 8401 Excelsior Drive in Sauk Trails Park, fit the bill. It’s all in keeping with the Fitness & More program, offered through Unity Health Insurance, in which employees are reimbursed up to $200 annually if they join the Princeton Club, take yoga classes, participate in a weight-management program, or take another healthy step.

The goal, according to Tracy Spoeth-Jaworski, accounting and human resource manager for Leonardo Academy, is to keep employees away from the doctor for everything except preventive care. “We started researching and it wasn’t much more to have an insurance plan that helped promote healthy lifestyles,” she says. “It’s costing a little bit more, but we feel it’s an added benefit for our employees. Everybody is at their desk eight to 10 hours a day, so it’s a good form of stress relief.”

A rare company that tracks and reports its total emissions, Leonardo Academy promotes working from home as a way to reduce emissions. Yet another pillar of sustainable benefits is socially responsible investing options for the company’s 403b program. Offered through MassMutual, the special-equities program has to meet company requirements, including the promotion of environmental stewardship and a prohibition of funds that invest in weaponry.

“These impacting investments give investors the opportunity to focus their investments on companies that drive societal improvements,” Spoeth-Jaworski notes, “both locally and globally.”

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