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Best Places

Baird Asset Management

Based: Milwaukee | Ranks 1st among firms with 50-99 employees

To be the best for your clients, you need the best talent. To get the best talent, you need an environment that allows that talent to thrive, said Leslie Dixon, chief human capital officer at Robert W. Baird, parent company of Baird Asset Management.   

The Milwaukee office that houses Baird Asset Management is in the throes of a redesign. Baird executives hope open floor plans and new color palettes will be more attractive to employees.

“We're going from a dark look to a lighter look,” said Paul Purcell, chairman and CEO of Robert W. Baird. “More light and color are things that appeal to a lot of younger people. We have a lot of younger people that work here.”

Whatever Baird is doing to engage employees must be working: The company has ranked first in its size category all three years Pensions & Investments has conducted its Best Places to Work in Money Management.

Another initiative supported by Baird Asset Management's younger employees is Baird Cares, a paid day off for employees to volunteer at non-profits of their choice. “The millennials are really excited by that,” said Ms. Dixon. “I've just been stunned over the years of the people that said the fact that Baird pays for volunteer time off is one of the main reasons (they) came to this company.”

Employees who responded to the Pensions & Investments survey also cited the firm's give-back philosophy as a reason it's a good place to work. “I am proud to work for a company that does things the right way and is very active in giving back,” one employee wrote.

One byproduct of Baird Cares is the camaraderie it fosters among employees, said Mary Ellen Stanek, chief investment officer and director of Baird Asset Management.

“The day that I did it, we had all of our Chicago talent ... some of them much newer to our team ... I think relationships changed that day,” said Ms. Stanek, who works in Baird's Milwaukee office. Baird also has an internship program, and Ms. Stanek said “some of our best talent throughout the firm has come through these internships.”

More than 8% of Baird Asset Management's employees began as interns.

To attract and retain the best talent, Baird also emphasizes a work-life balance.

Initiatives like Baird Cares and office parties bring employees closer to achieving that balance, Mr. Purcell said. “We celebrate a lot,” Mr. Purcell said. “People work really hard, and you need to say thank you.”

Employees agree. “They truly believe in and support a work-life balance,” one employee wrote. “We celebrate promotions, graduations, marriages and pregnancies,” another wrote.