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United Way for Southeastern Michigan named one of Crain’s Detroit’s 2011 Cool Places to Work

And the winners are:

Crain's Detroit Business has named 48 companies of varying sizes as Cool Places to Work in Southeast Michigan.

1-50 employees

  • Brogan & Partners
  • Michigan Municipal League
  • Eisbrenner Public Relations
  • McGraw Morris
  • O'Keefe & Associates
  • Credential Check
  • Innovative Learning Group
  • Nemeth Burwell
  • Michigan Suburbs Alliance
  • Interior Partnership Group
  • Airfoil Public Relations
  • Brightwing
  • Core3 Solutions
  • Billhighway.com (Automated Payment Highway)

51-250 employees

  • Michigan First Credit Union
  • United Way for Southeastern Michigan
  • The Farbman Group
  • Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton
  • Brown & Brown of Detroit
  • Potestivo & Associates
  • Walsh College
  • MyInsuranceExpert.com (MIE Financial Services)
  • Trubiquity
  • Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America
  • Marketing Associates
  • McGraw Wentworth
  • Detroit Athletic Club

251-500 employees

  • Arrow Strategies
  • JVS
  • Market Strategies International
  • Warner, Norcross & Judd
  • HHA Services
  • Educational Data Systems
  • Advantage Technical Resourcing
  • Macomb-Oakland Regional Center

501-1,000 employees

  • The Epitec Group
  • Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA
  • Sun Communities

More than 1,000 employees

  • Henry Ford Health System
  • General Motors
  • Beaumont Health System
  • Valassis Communications
  • Seko Worldwide-Detroit
    Digitas
  • St. John Providence Health System
  • Inergy Automotive Systems (USA)
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • International Automotive Components Group North America

Originally published: Crain's Detroit Business

When Crain's last held its Cool Places to Work awards program in 2009, the big issue was how to navigate the economic realities of the recession without punishing workers in the process.

Now, things are less grim. Many employees who nominated their employers mentioned how these organizations worked hard to avoid major cuts in pay and benefits during the worst years. Better still, quite a few said one of the coolest things about the company they work for is that it is growing and hiring.

This year, Cool Places to Work, as judged by Crain's and the American Society of Employers, recognizes companies and nonprofits that take talent attraction and retention seriously. These organizations acknowledge the importance their workers play in the success of their business and take actions to help those workers thrive.

As some workers pointed out in their nominating forms, this means more than having a video game console and a few couches in a corner of the office.

"We are currently seeking to hire over 100 sales positions this year, and that is sure to lead to other opportunities within the company for existing employees," wrote an employee at MIE Financial Services LLC, the Troy-based operator of MyInsuranceExpert.com.

It means demonstrating a commitment to employees' future success through advancement and training opportunities. It means keeping them in the loop on the organization's strategy and direction.

And, yes, sometimes it does mean a stocked refrigerator, a game room and other things that have nothing to do with the organization's primary product or service. Plenty of nominators were happy to highlight niceties such as on-site dry cleaning pickup and regular happy hour meetings.

Kevin Marrs, Southfield-based ASE's director of survey services, said many lighter offerings aren't expensive and they signal a company's values to workers who would match the culture.

"It helps recruit talent that's a right fit for the organization," he said.

Nominated organizations were asked to complete a survey conducted by ASE. Out of 378 nominated organizations, nearly 100 completed the survey, of which 48 were selected as winners.

The survey covered six weighted categories: work-life initiatives, talent management, communication, total rewards, work environment, and recruitment and employment activities. ASE applied scores to each category and derived a final ranking from those category scores.

Some features were given extra credit, Marrs said. While offering flexible schedules was considered positive, it is also common. If an organization went the extra mile on flexibility, that yielded more points.

Mary Corrado, president and CEO of ASE, said there is no one-size-fits-all formula -- just because one organization offers certain perks doesn't mean others should. Some people might prefer an organization that offers adoption services and child care to one that has beer and games.

"Every organization can come up with ways to make it a cool place, she said.

And while talent attraction does have a bottom-line impact, stability will always trump cool, Corrado said.

"I prefer to be assured I have a job to go every day next week," she said.