"It's the people," says Mindy Rowland, and Angela Heim quickly says, "Yeah. Oh, I could cry." The two pause, reflecting. Rowling is vice president and Heim is president and owner of The Employer Group.
"I can call anybody here if I needed something, no matter what it was, work or non-work related, and they would totally have my back," says Heim, and Rowling quickly agrees: "There's just this wonderful interaction and friendly atmosphere, while everybody's working really hard. You just can't duplicate it."
It wasn't always this way, and Heim would know—she worked as the company's sole payroll processor for nearly four years before she purchased the twenty-year-old human resources business in 2007. It was a solid company but much smaller, and the culture was lacking. One of her first orders of business was to move from the dark, outdated Odana Road office space to a beautiful new bright and sunny building on the outskirts of Verona. She eliminated the strict business attire dress code and other restrictive rules, focusing instead on steadily growing the business and investing in the right people. Employees get shortened hours on Friday afternoons, health, vision, dental, long-term and short-term disability insurance, a 401K plan and all kinds of other big-company benefits despite having only seventeen employees.
"I also want everybody to have fun. We have a very social aspect to our culture," says Heim, who subscribes to the "work hard, play hard" philosophy, as do her employees, seven of whom have now been with the company from seven to eleven years. The constant social gatherings and events include a serious commitment to volunteer service work and charitable contributions. It's not just about employee engagement or giving back, says Heim. It creates an invaluable bond among her team: "I really think it builds a different kind of trust."
Beyond that, Rowland adds, there's a sense of awareness and gratitude among the employees that results in their willingness to rise to the occasion—in turn bolstering the company's bottom line.
"We've got all these benefits," says Rowland. "The least we can do is be excellent at our job."
THE TAKEAWAY: Employees are more selective now. By offering robust benefits packages (or other benefits, like reduced hours on Friday afternoons) potential workers will perk up when hearing about workplace amenities and current employees will stay engaged.
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