Chicago's Best & Brightest Fusion T-shirt

Achieves #1 of the 101 Best & Brightest in Chicago

Fusion’s team to prepared to enter the Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For 2013 award. We gathered employment data, detailed processes, procedures, benefits, recognition programs, training and all other criteria requested on the employer survey. We explained the process to our employees and encouraged them to take the employee survey and honestly answer the questions regarding employment at Fusion.

The employer survey was a big undertaking but it helped us to gather all of the great programs Fusion has in place and tell a story about what it is like to work at Fusion.

When we learned that Fusion won Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For 2013 award we were thrilled! Our small company, started in owner Craig Zoberis’ garage, was now being recognized by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR) for creating an ideal place for employees to work. National recognition by an esteemed organization like NABR for creating best practices and HR strategies was overwhelmingly exciting.

Craig announced our award to all Fusion employees at the morning huddle, had t-shirts made for every employee with the Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For 2013 logo, and started planning a party for all the employees and their family members. We registered Fusion for the big award ceremony that took place on August 5th.

The overall award includes the following categories:

Communication and Shared Vision/ Community Initiatives/ Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions/ Diversity and Inclusion/ Work Life Balance/ Employee Achievement and Recognition/ Employee Education and Development/ Strategic Performance/ Employee Enrichment, Engagement and Retention/ Recruitment Selection and Orientation/ Best Overall/ Best of the Best Small Business.

To win the 101 Best and Brightest Award, Fusion had to demonstrate outstanding achievement in each of these categories. Additionally, the NABR chose one company as an Elite Award winner in each category. This winner must demonstrate the most exceptional practices for that particular business strategy.

We attended the ceremony and it was time for the Elite Awards. With each award Judy Hsu (Chicago’s Channel 7 news team) and Pat Cassidy of (Chicago’s WBBM 780 AM news team) announced the outstanding accomplishments of the winner and brought the company CEO to the stage to comment on their award.

We listened as they began to announce the Best of the Best Award for Small Companies. Although we qualified for this award, we didn’t think we had any chance to win Best of the Best. After all, this was our first try at the 101 Awards. We were rookies in this competition. We listened to Pat describe the outstanding practices of the Best of the Best winner. After two sentences we realized they were talking about us! None of us heard much of what Pat Cassidy said after we realized he was describing Fusion OEM as the Best of the Best Small Business because we were so floored. Craig went on stage, graciously accepted the award, and was blown away when he returned to our table. The gratification was unbelievable!

As we drove back to the office we were in shock. Fusion is so honored to be recognized as Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work AND Chicago’s Best of the Best Small Business! Feeding off our enthusiasm, Craig immediately began talking about changes we could make in the year to come TO MAKE Fusion even a better place to work.

Because we were overcome with joy when Pat Cassidy was announcing our Best of the Best Award, I asked for the copy he read so we could share it with our team. Below are Pat Cassidy’s words describing Fusion before he announced the Elite Award, Best of the Best Small Business:

“Now we’ve come to the Small Business Best of the Best award. Believe me, getting this award is not easy. But this winner clearly shows us that great workplaces exist in small businesses, too. Here’s just a small sample of some of their great HR practices . They host Mini-Games, which consist of a challenge given to a team to achieve a specific goal within a pre-determined amount of time. They then earn a team reward tailored to employees’ collective interests.

Another distinctive solution is their practice of merit pay. Like some companies, they base employee annual pay increases on performance or merit. However, it doesn’t stop there. Besides annual merit increases, they use on-the-spot bonus rewards when employees perform above and beyond expectations. Another event they use to enrich the daily work of employees is called FedEx Day – it’s called that because participants have to deliver something overnight. This allows employees to spend one full day to work on anything they want to improve the Company (as long as it’s not part of their regular job). The ideas that result from FedEx Day are typically implemented as best practices, further enriching employees’ lives and proving to employees that their ideas are valued and essential to future growth and innovation.

And while many employers hold going away parties for employees, this winner believes the key to retention and engagement is in making employees feel part of the team from their first day of work. So their parties are not on an employee’s last day, but on their first day. New employees may receive flowers, gift certificates for dinners with their significant others, and welcome lunches with their managers, teams or departments.”