Semcac receives “Best Places to Work” award

Submitted photo Pictured are Semcac Human Resources Director, Pat Georgens, and Executive Director Wayne Stenberg.
By : 
Michelle Rowley

For the second year in a row, Rushford-based Semcac was named one of 12 “Best Places to Work” in southeastern Minnesota by Workforce Development, Inc..
The honor was awarded after an extensive study, commissioned by Workforce Development and analyzed by the Florida-based independent consulting firm, Personal Dynamics Consulting.
Pat Georgens, Semcac human resources director, is proof that the agency excels at long-term retention; she will celebrate her 45th anniversary with the 52-year-old agency in July. “I think a lot of the staff believe in the mission of Semcac – people helping people –we’ve got a lot of different programs which do that,” Georgens said. Semcac’s formal mission statement is to “empower and advocate for people to enhance their self-sufficiency by maximizing community resources.”
Semcac, which originally was named South Eastern Minnesota Citizens Action Council, is a community action agency that provides a myriad of services. “We provide energy assistance, weatherization, food support, Head Start and Early Head Start, clinical services, emergency assistance, senior nutrition, Meals on Wheels, senior and caregiver advocacy, busing and a volunteer driver program,” said Executive Director Wayne Stenberg.
The employment atmosphere aims to be as family-friendly as its services. “If someone’s child has a program at school, or another family function, we are pretty flexible with letting people have the time they need off,” explained Georgens.
The non-profit agency has seventy offices, serves a seven-county area and in total employs around 220 people. The study analyzed the practices of their administrative headquarters in Rushford, which has 52 employees, categorizing the agency as a small business.
Participation in the Workforce study required completion of a 40-question survey about Semcac’s employment practices. The survey was framed around 11 business attributes, including training provided, benefits offered, rate of growth, and diversity of management.
One of the areas where Semcac excelled in comparison to other companies was employee benefits. “We offer competitive paid-time off, health insurance, dental insurance, and our 401K retirement program rated high,” stated Georgens. The study said the average 401K participation rate at a company was 64%, whereas Semcac’s participation rate for eligible employees is 100%. Semcac also offers telecommuting for employees, as well as a wellness program and an employee assistance program.
Workforce Development, Inc. noted in a news release that with the unemployment rate “hovering around 2.6 percent,” the study, which provides every participating organization with a 20-page analysis of their workplace practices, offers businesses vital tools for obtaining and retaining employees.
One of the areas Semcac is looking to improve is its orientation program, which the agency was praised for when awarded the “Best Places to Work” designation in 2017. However, Georgens noted that an employee review survey indicated that employees wanted further orientation opportunities.
Georgens aims to implement an employee mentorship program, stating that although employees often have someone to ask question of at their worksite, a mentorship program would offer additional support.
Workforce Development, Inc. bestowed Semcac with the “Best Places to Work” award at a banquet held in Rochester on April 26, 2018. May is National Community Action Month, created to reinforce the role agencies like Semcac provide in helping low income families achieve economic security.