Nominate Your Company: Best Place to Work!

Madison Magazine and WISC-TV are offering a snap shot of the region’s Best Places to Work

Aug 27, 2009

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Brennan Nardi: How can companies best leverage their results?
Rebecca Ryan: I think there are a couple ways to do this. If a participant is competing with other Madison area employers for talent, it’s a great way to see how you measure up, so that you can tweak what you’re offering employees.  For example, if you find out you’re in the last quartile for “Development,” it might indicate that you need to offer a little more in the way of training to keep and attract great talent.

But there’s a longer-term benefit, too. Any organization that’s really committed to being a great place to work can use the results as a benchmark. We did a small session with the leadership team of one of the 2008 winners, and even though their scores were excellent across the board those leaders focused on the small nuances of the questions where they didn’t score well. This anecdote underscores what we’ve experienced with our clients across North America: the truly great workplaces are always looking for ways to be better. So if you’re reading this thinking, “That’s me!” the Best Places to Work survey is a great tool to help you become even better.

Brennan Nardi: Madison was named a Next City in NGC's most recent survey of American cities.  Why is it ranked number one among its peers?
Rebecca Ryan: As many readers know, my firm studies the places that the next generation chooses to live and work. For companies, we’ve developed the six dimensions of employee engagement framework (mentioned above) to help companies become those great workplaces.

We’ve done the same thing for cities: created a series of seven indexes that the next generation weighs and values when choosing where to live.  Anyone who has a student in college knows that they often choose where they’re going to live first, and then look for work. Well, Madison’s cumulative scores in those seven indexes that matter to young talent (Vitality, Earning, Learning, After Hours, Around Town, Cost of Lifestyle and Social Capital) beat every other city in its size division.

Brennan Nardi: How can Madison best leverage the results?
Rebecca Ryan: Well, since I live here, the first thing I’d say is that we can’t get too self-congratulatory. In Madison, we sometimes believe our own hype, which leads to hubris, the first step towards demise. So, the first thing you can do to leverage Madison’s ranking as the #1 mid-sized city for young professionals is to realize that this is a story that is still being written. We have a lot going for us, but we also have enormous challenges: connecting ourselves to the other great cities in the region—Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis; figuring out how to connect every single 8th grader to real opportunities and a sense of hope and purpose, and preserving our quality of life so that it continues to be, as the Willy Street banners say, “A Place for All People.”

If you’re an employer in Madison and rely on recruiting talent from other cities, I encourage you to write this someplace on your Careers page: “Madison is the best city for young professionals” and link it to the media announcement and explanation, which are available at

Brennan Nardi is editor of Madison Magazine.

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