As so many companies today struggle to attract and retain employees, they’re increasingly focused on culture, employee well-being and engagement.
I’m proud to say that I’ve focused on employee well-being and culture since I started my healthcare and senior housing consulting firm nearly 25 years ago, and thanks to that commitment, we’ve reaped many rewards. In fact, I’ve had no turnover —yes, zero—among my 12 full-time employees in the past five years. Our average employee tenure is over eight years.
So, what’s our secret? It goes back to the beginning.
Pursuing a vision
I started my company in 1999 with a strong vision of the workplace and culture I wanted to create. I set out to employ women and give them a flexible yet growth-minded work environment they wouldn’t want to leave. My end goal was to create “employees for life.”
To achieve this goal, I knew that offering work-life balance and a way employees could balance being moms (if they had kids) and super-smart business executive consultants would be key. The number of women who leave the workforce once they have kids is still dismally high—so I knew I needed to support working moms in a way they wouldn’t find almost anywhere else.
I set out to build a culture that fosters trust, empowerment and personal growth—which I instinctively knew would be important to the people I wanted to attract.
One challenge for a small company like mine is holding on to the best employees, often because those employees don’t feel like they have a way to grow in their role or move up in the company ranks. So I have focused on creating opportunities for growth internally, so our employees wouldn’t leave.
I encourage all of my employees to step up and learn the role of their department heads in preparation for a promotion. I call this “putting yourself out of a job.” Department heads train the next in line so well that they are no longer needed for that role and are therefore ready for the next step in their own careers.
I also practice what I preach. Last year, I gave away my job as CEO to Jennifer Saxman, my second in command. Jennifer was in college when she came to work for me 12 years ago. She’s a natural leader who has continually stepped up. She wants to show up and be great, and I realized that if I didn’t promote her, I was going to lose her.
Meantime, I’ve shifted into the new role of Chief Visionary Officer and am focused on leveraging artificial intelligence to fuel the sales and marketing process of our new sister company, BILDX, a tech-enabled business services firm.
Beyond growth, offering flexibility has been a big focus of ours, and why so many employees don’t leave. We offer an all-remote work environment, which —while not as rare as it used to be—has been a huge draw for us.
We also offer a 35-hour workweek, flexible scheduling when possible, a paid week off over the holiday season, a profit-sharing plan for division leaders, and wellness programs on topics like deep breathing, yoga, and mindful eating.
We also do a biannual company retreat that’s not about work and all about play. We recently spent three days in Miami focused on massages and margaritas. You can’t give to others if you’re burned out.
Thanks to our great culture, we’ve won public recognition—helping us attract attention to our workplace. For the past two years, Bild & Co has been certified as an award winner by the Great Place to Work Institute. In the institute’s Trust Index survey, our employees used words like “caring,” “listen,” “flexibility,” “growth,” “humor” and “community” to describe their work environment.
While I’m very proud of the culture I’ve created, I didn’t do it to win awards. I did it in the hopes of creating “employees for life”—and I think I’m well on my way to achieving that goal.Print this article