The program, now in its third year, honors growing businesses (five to 1,000 employees) that excel in selecting, managing, and providing a benefits program that ensures employees’ long-term financial security. In particular, The Principal 10 Best winners demonstrated innovative ways to provide affordable health-care coverage to their employees.
“The Principal 10 Best winners have all succeeded in building great benefit programs in ways that ultimately boost their bottom line, while also making sure their employees appreciate the value of those benefits,” said Renee Schaaf, vice president at the Principal Financial Group. “Our independent blue ribbon panel of judges was really impressed by the winners’ commitment to superior benefits that would compete easily against even the largest of companies.”
The program was open to any company with between five and 1,000 employees. To qualify, all entrants must have been based in the United States and have provided a broad range of employee benefits for at least five years. Qualifying companies must have, at a minimum, offered “traditional” employee benefits, such as those relating to retirement, health, life, or disability. No entry fee was required, and employees of The Principal were not eligible to enter.
Winning companies come from an array of industries ranging from manufacturing to financial services; and range in size from 15 to over 500 employees. The Principal 10 Best Companies are:
- American Urological Association Education and Research, Inc., Linthicum Heights, ;
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, , ;
- Clipper Belt Lacer Company, Grand Rapids, ;
- Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Inc., , ;
- ELTECH Systems Corporation, , ;
- First National Bank of Greencastle, , ;
- Leupold & Stevens, Inc., , ;
- Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company, , ;
- RATHBUN INSURANCE AGENCY, , ; and
- Federal Credit Union, Auburn Hills, .
Companies were evaluated based on benefits the judges deemed most important in contributing to employee long-term financial security. Those benefits included retirement plans; strong medical coverage, including significant premium subsidies by employers; long-term disability options; group life insurance; accidental death and dismemberment coverage; medical and retirement packages for part-time employees; and effective communication methods to help employees maximize the benefit options.
Judges selected winning companies based on the breadth of their benefits offerings – how well they cover major life events such as retirement and disability; and the depth of their benefits offerings – how much the company contributes in terms of matches or premiums. The judges also considered the overall commitment to employee financial security as demonstrated by how the company aligns its benefits to the specific needs of its employees and how the company helps employees understand and utilize their benefits, according to the Principal.
The program judges included: Dallas L. Salisbury, president and CEO, Employee Benefit Research Institute; David Wray, president, Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America; Howard Wolosky, executive editor, The Practical Accountant; Deborah J. Lucas, PhD., Household International professor of finance, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University; Nevin E. Adams, editor-in-chief, Plan Sponsor Magazine; Charlie Tharp Ph.D., professor human resource management, School of Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University; Susan Bjork , HR director, Lancet Software, Inc., The Principal 10 Best Companies-2003 winner; Todd Surline, vice president of human relations, MSU Federal Credit Union, The Principal 10 Best Companies-2003 winner.
The judges worked with Mathew Greenwald & Associates, a market research company, to choose the winners based on how companies select, manage, and provide benefits and other programs that contribute to their employees’ financial security.
A summary of best practices gleaned from the program will be available in January 2005, and entry forms for the 2005 recognition program will be available in February 2005. For more information, visit The Principal Web site at www.principal.com