The management of Pekin Insurance is mindful of the theory that high employee morale leads to higher productivity. 

“If you have engaged employees, they’re going to work that much harder to provide outstanding customer service to our employees and our agents,” said Kimberly Remmert, vice president of human resources at Pekin Insurance.

One way the company engages its employees is by encouraging and listening to their input, according to Amanda Morgan, a change management specialist with Pekin Insurance.

“The leadership really listens to employees’ opinions and asks for input on things,” she said. “You really get to put your stamp on things that are happening here at the company.”

Employee job satisfaction was a major reason Pekin Insurance was recently named one of the 2019 Best Places to Work in Illinois in the large employers category, said Remmert.

The award recipients are selected annually by the Daily Herald Business Ledger, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the American Management Association. Pekin Insurance was one of 18 organizations to receive an award in the large company category.

“It’s about creating an excellent experience for our agents and our customers,” said Remmert. “We’re focused on the employee experience.”

An important factor in enhancing the employee experience is something that Remmert referred to as “Pekin Perks.” Those include a large, comfortable cafeteria, a scenic hiking trail for exercise enthusiasts and a “bank” into which 16 volunteer hours are deposited each year.

“Each employee gets a 16-hour bank of volunteering so they can give back to the community, whether it’s working at their child’s school, working at St. Jude (Children’s Research Hospital), working at United Way, working at the Midwest Food Bank, or working at TAPS (Tazewell Animal Protection Society),” said Remmert. “There are variety of ways our employees can give back to the community and then they’re paid for it. Another benefit I’m proud of is we have parental leave. When a woman has a baby, she is paid for time off. The spouse also gets time off to be with their child.”

According to an April 2019 Daily Herald staff report, awards recipients are selected through a two-part process. The first part consists of evaluating a nominated company’s workplace policies, practices and demographics. The second part is an employee survey to measure the employee experience. To qualify for the award, a nominated company must achieve at least a 40 percent employee survey response rate. Remmert said Pekin Insurance employees easily cleared that hurdle. Out of 350 employees who received surveys, 250 completed and submitted them, for a 71 percent response rate.

“I think it’s important that we won this award because of our employees,” Remmert said. “They were the ones who voted. It’s not something that I wrote and submitted. They voted us as one of the Best Places to Work in Illinois, and that’s something I’m proud of. The reason we’re winning is because of the people we have here.” 

The combination of Pekin Perks, benefits, and the willingness of company leadership have created a work atmosphere that helps Pekin Insurance recruit new employees and retain them, according to Remmert. The average tenure of a Pekin Insurance employee is about 14 years, said Remmert.

“Half our company has been here less than five years, and the other half has been here greater than five years,” she said. “We’re bringing those together, and we’re coming up with innovative ways to sell insurance and make people want to be here. It’s creating excitement. It’s having leaders at the top who are listening to our employees. It’s having perks in place, and it’s building that culture. That’s what we work every day to do as an organization, and that’s how we have great people.”

Competition from large employers throughout the Pekin and Peoria areas that also offer a variety of employee perquisites and benefits makes it more difficult for Pekin Insurance to attract and retain workers, said Remmert. She believes, however, that people are attracted to the company’s commitment to innovation and its embrace of new technology.

“People are excited about that and want to be a part of it,” she said.”We are currently implementing a program called PIVOT (Pekin Insurance Virtual Overall Transformation). We are transforming our business to implement a system called Guidewire. That’s taking our policies and how we rate policies off a mainframe legacy system and moving it all into the Guidewire system. It is a massive multi-year project and the biggest thing we’ve ever done. We’re also implementing a project called LIFT (Life Is Focused on Tomorrow) in the life company, which is going to change how we underwrite business life insurance.”

Pekin Insurance has locations at 2505 Court St., 111 S. Capitol St. and 3933 N. Parkway Drive, Pekin. For more information, visit www.pekininsurance.com.