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PJ Named "Top Workplace" by Madison.com for 5th consecutive year

2023 top workplace blog banner

Palmer Johnson Power Systems (PJ) is thrilled to be recognized by Wisconsin State Journal’s Top Workplaces rankings for the fifth year in a row. The honor is awarded to companies solely based on anonymous employee feedback regarding workplace culture and is calculated using a third-party research partner, Energage LLC. Top Workplaces spotlight how corporate culture can engage employees and help organizations thrive — even through crisis. This year we were also awarded a special award for "Appreciation." 

“Employers have shown a remarkable ability to navigate these storms by leaning on their core values,” said Ross McDuffie, president of Madison Media Partners, which produces the State Journal and Madison.com. “They’ve innovated to meet employee needs. Many employers say those advances have helped them build strong workplaces and thrive in the marketplace.”

This year’s project involved 111 organizations, and 22,819 area employees were surveyed to compile the rankings. After the results were tabulated, 71 companies were named to this year’s Top Workplaces list. Only six organizations were named on the Top Workplaces list all five years.

5th Consecutive Top Workplace Award Win

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"While more companies join the competition of being considered THE top small workplace in Madison, PJ is thrilled to be winning the award for the 5th year in a row. Palmer Johnson is truly an amazing place because of what our team has built-in culture with their passion, dedication, and collaboration. We will continue to listen, learn, and grow with and from our people. Cheers to all at PJ, what an accomplishment!" says Ashley Matthys, Director of HR at Palmer Johnson Enterprises.

Workplace Culture Components

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The anonymous employee engagement survey consisted of 24 questions, gathering responses regarding issues relating to workplace culture:

  • Alignment – where the company is headed, its values, cooperation
  • Connection – employees feel appreciated, their work is meaningful
  • Effectiveness – doing things efficiently and well, sharing different viewpoints, encouraging new ideas
  • My Manager – cares about concerns, helps employees develop
  • Engagement – motivation, retention, and recruiting
  • Leadership – confidence in company leaders
  • The Basics – pay, benefits, flexibility, training, expectations

“Recruitment and retention are a key focus for every organization today,” said Eric Rubino, CEO of Energage. “The employee engagement survey at the heart of the Top Workplaces program provides the foundation for unearthing unique culture differentiators to recruit and retain the right talent.”

PJ Platinum Launch 12

Pulse Check

Outside of this employee engagement survey for Top Workplaces, PJ routinely sends out our own survey. “PJ uses an employee engagement survey to make sure leadership keeps a pulse on what’s working and what’s not. We dive in and change to get better. We will continue to listen to our people and communicate back with transparency,” says Ashley Matthys.

No. 1 Small | Caring for employees strengthens Palmer Johnson

This article was initially published on Madison.com on March 26, 2023, and written by Dennis Chaptman. 

It used to be that Palmer Johnson Power Systems put customers ahead of employees in its core values.

As time passed, though, it became increasingly apparent that an employee focus was the best way for the company to serve customers and succeed.

“We realized that if we don’t care about each other, our people aren’t going to care about our customers,” said Craig Swenson, the company’s president. “Our first core value is that we care about each other.”

During the pandemic, the company’s scores on employee engagement surveys went up. Swenson attributes that to listening to employees and acting on their needs for flexibility, work-life balance and tools to manage at-home and hybrid work environments.

This is the fifth straight year that Palmer Johnson — which specializes in servicing and supplying components for heavy-duty, off-highway equipment — was named to the Top Workplaces list. This year, it tops the list in the small-company category.

“Our employees create our culture and taking care of them helps us excel as an employer,” Swenson added.

Palmer Johnson offers employees a progressive health and wellness program that provides one-on-one nutritionist access, health coaching and free healthy snacks. It has a program called “Walk Out on Your Job,” that encourages employees to take 30 minutes off each day to walk or exercise.

The firm also has a bonus points program that rewards healthy habits and excellent workplace performance.

Because the company is self-insured, employee premiums are based on how healthy they are as determined by health risk assessments. Those started about 10 years ago, and employee scores have gone up every year, Swenson said.

“They’re getting healthier even as they are aging,” Swenson said. “We had a good return on health insurance and returned some back to the employees for their hard work.”

Palmer Johnson also cares about its employees’ financial wellness, providing financial consultants for investment and retirement advice outside of its 401(k)/Roth options.


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