Principal Financial Group is in the midst of an ambitious construction project that not only enhances the environment for its employees, but also the environment of hometown Des Moines.
Larry Zimpleman, president, chairman and CEO of Principal, said the company's multiyear upgrading of its seven-building campus in downtown Des Moines is a reaction to the realization that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030.
“If we're going to be viewed as an attractive place to work, we better find out what millennials value,” Mr. Zimpleman said. “What they value is flexibility.”
The renovation of the company's 2.2 million-square-foot campus eschews the cubicle-office-conference room layout and emphasizes flexibility, offering far more meeting space than cubicles.
The upgrade is of particular importance to its Principal Global Investors investment management unit.
“One of the requirements of investment management is a lot of need to have mobile functionality,” said Jim McCaughan, president, global asset management, and chief investment officer of Principal Global, “and to have collaboration across the world in common with many others.”
More collaborative workspaces are also a reflection of an increasing reliance on flexible scheduling, which garnered employee praise. One emphasized the firm “allows schedule flexibility to get work and personal life matters taken care of efficiently.”
“We do a benefits survey every year,” said Beth Raymond, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Principal. “We had 85% of the participants respond they take advantage of flexible scheduling. Over 50% are saying they work remotely at least one to three days week. It's not a small group of employees that have an opportunity to be able to leverage that.”
Ms. Raymond also noted employees are given eight hours a year of paid time for volunteer work in various community programs.
The company's efforts toward creating a positive physical environment extend well beyond the boundaries of its own facilities. In 2013, construction was completed on the Principal River Walk, a recreational trail that runs on both sides of the Des Moines River. Officials described the walk as a gift to the city on the occasion of Principal Financial Group's 125th anniversary.
Employees recognize their company's efforts. One praised its “emphasis on doing the right thing both in work and within the community.”
That embrace of community runs throughout the company. Principal holds regular breakfasts for which groups of randomly selected employees are invited to sit down with three or four members of senior management, to discuss issues and ask any question about the business.
Mr. Zimpleman said: “I still meet with all the interns. I enjoy it immensely. It's an important thing that I do.”
The company offers a vibrant intranet for which many employees write blogs covering topics as disparate as health and fitness and business etiquette. On-site game rooms, fitness centers and personal trainers also add to the feeling of camaraderie and community.
Numerous employees commented on the “feeling of ownership and common purpose” and “being part of a team.”
“I've been here for 43 years and I've never had a day that I wasn't excited to go to work,” Mr. Zimpleman said.