HUDSONVILLE, MI – When hundreds of representatives of some of the best businesses in West Michigan are in the same room, it seems natural to take advantage of the situation and tap into all of that knowledge.
That’s exactly what the Best and Brightest Programs did Tuesday at its first live event in West Michigan in more than two years, hosting an in-depth discussion about best practices as part of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For ceremony at the Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville.
“We are very proud of this very powerful community,” said Jennifer Kluge, CEO of the Best and Brightest Programs. “It’s wonderful to be in a room full of leaders who think differently than others.”
The last time the Best and Brightest Programs was live in West Michigan was 2019 – pre-COVID-19 pandemic. The energy in the Pinnacle Center Tuesday was high, with a large and enthusiastic crowd eager to return to the live setting.
And no one was happier about it than Kluge, who pointed out that the West Michigan Best and Brightest program is celebrating its 20th anniversary after becoming the program’s first new region in 2002.
“It’s appropriate that West Michigan was our first new region 20 years ago, and it’s our first live event since the pandemic,” Kluge told the crowd from the dais. “I just want to soak it all in.”
While the event included the panel discussion on best practices and a town hall-style discussion on retention, the primary goal was, of course, to recognize West Michigan’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.
The Best and Brightest is a powerful community of the nation’s elite leaders who share ideas, practices, and have proven they are employers of choice.
Winning companies were assessed by an independent research firm, which reviewed a number of key measures relative to other nationally recognized winners.
Eleven elite winners were named in a variety of categories, and three companies were also crowned – the “best of the best” small, medium and large businesses. Those winners included:
Best of the Best – Large Business
University of Michigan Health-West, an organization official said is “driven by their values” including caring, innovation, inclusion, integrity and teamwork.
“We have a phenomenal team,” said Marla Cole, Human Resources Director, Employee Engagement and Talent. “This is indicative of what our whole team is accomplishing.”
Best of the Best – Medium Business
Brio Living Services continued to stay strong the past year, and to offer a variety of programs, including things like tuition support, educational scholarships, mileage reimbursement, prescription discounts and over-the-counter medications at discounted rates.
“This means an awful lot,” said Angela Serpetti, Brio’s Director of Talent Management and Retention. “We definitely have done everything we can to recognize our hard-working front-line team members, and we appreciate the recognition.”
Best of the Best Small Business
Andy J. Egan Co., recognized for dealing with “difficult challenges over the past two years.” Using “strategic execution and being intentional,” They were able to keep all of their team members employed and had a zero turnover rate.
“It’s an honor,” Andy J. Egan Co. representative Jennifer Pearson said of the award. “Andy J. Egan Co is probably the best company to work for. They’re very family oriented.”
Other Elite category winners included:
Other Elite category winners included:
Communication and Shared Vision
Community Initiatives and Corporate Responsibility
Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions
Consumers Credit Union
Creative Wellness and Wellbeing Solutions
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Employee Achievement and Recognition
Total Quality Logistics
Employee Education and Development
Hungerford Nichols CPAs + Advisors
Employment Enrichment, Engagement and Retention
Leadership, Strategy and Company Performance
Mercantile Bank of Michigan
Recruitment and Selection
MSU Federal Credit Union
“These companies have shown fortitude and have inspired others to make critical decisions for the betterment of their teams,” Kluge said. “They focus on the needs of their employees as a primary objective, and are leaders in the West Michigan community.”
Kluge moderated the town hall, which featured five experts in various areas, including:
- Mike Novakoski, president and CEO of EV Construction.
- Caitlin Gardner, senior manager public relations for Spartan-Nash.
- TaRita Johnson, senior vice president, talent and diversity for The Right Place.
- Janis Petrini, owner, Express Employment Professional.
- David Smith, vice president, compensation services, The Employers’ Association.
The best practices discussion, led by Therese Smith, director of education and programs for the Best and Brightest Programs, focused on wellness and wellbeing, engaging hybrid work models, and diversity, equity and inclusion. It included:
- Silvia Dimma, Chief Human Resources Officer, MSU Federal Credit Union.
- Gretchen Murphy, Chief Human Resources Officer, Service Express.
- Shawn Premer, Chief Human Resources Officer, Consumers Credit Union.