Em­pha­siz­ing the mis­sion

Ad­vi­sory Board Co. aims to un­leash work­ers’ ca­pa­bil­i­ties

Modern Healthcare - - BEST PLACES TO WORK - By Mike Mitka

Hav­ing a clearly de­fined mis­sion and hir­ing peo­ple who un­der­stand that mis­sion are among the at­tributes cred­ited with pro­pel­ling growth at the Ad­vi­sory Board Co. The company, a global tech­nol­ogy, re­search and con­sult­ing firm based in Wash­ing­ton, has worked with more than 200,000 lead­ers in 3,800 hos­pi­tals and health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions and 600 univer­si­ties and col­leges. Since 2009, the Ad­vi­sory Board Co. has grown from 1,000 em­ploy­ees to more than 2,400 and boasts an 88% em­ploy­ment re­ten­tion rate.

“Our mis­sion is to fo­cus on im­prov­ing health­care and mak­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion a bet­ter in­dus­try as well,” said Robert Mus­sle­white, chair­man and CEO.

“We hire em­ploy­ees who share this de­sire to im­prove the in­dus­try. I see my job as cre­at­ing an or­ga­ni­za­tion where we un­leash their ca­pa­bil­i­ties to do that to the max­i­mum—that’s ev­ery­thing from mak­ing sure that they un­der­stand our mis­sion and vi­sion and val­ues to en­sur­ing they have the tools and sup­port­ive in­fra­struc­ture needed to carry out that support in an ef­fec­tive way while still hav­ing a bal­anced life,” Mus­sle­white said.

The Ad­vi­sory Board Co. earned No. 1 on the rank­ing of the Best Places to Work for large sup­plier com­pa­nies, those with 1,000 or more em­ploy­ees. In fact, it’s the only em­ployer on the rank­ing of large sup­pli­ers.

It places No. 28 among all health­care sup­pli­ers and No. 46 over­all among all 100 Best Places to Work. It’s the sixth time the company has been on the an­nual rank­ings.

Beemer Wong, se­nior di­rec­tor of en­gi­neer­ing based in the company’s Austin, Texas, of­fice, cred­its the over­all work en­vi­ron­ment for the company’s peren­nial pres­ence among the top places to work.

“It’s the cul­ture, the peo­ple, the type of prod­uct we pro­vide. Those are all in­gre­di­ents that make a good work­place,” said Wong, who has worked at the company for nearly four years. “There’s a lot of pas­sion. Peo­ple use their cre­ative en­ergy to make change.”

In-house sur­veys also bear out em­ployee sat­is­fac­tion with 76% of re­spon­dents be­liev­ing the company’s cul­tures con­trib­utes pos­i­tively to work and 80% be­liev­ing that their jobs con­trib­ute to the company’s over­all suc­cess.

Another crit­i­cal fac­tor is the company’s con­certed ef­fort to im­prove the com­mu­ni­ties in which em­ploy­ees work and live.

The company gives em­ploy­ees 10 paid hours a month for vol­un­teer ac­tiv­i­ties through its Com­mu­nity Im­pact pro­gram. Last year, the company had 100% em­ployee par­tic­i­pa­tion in the pro­gram that gen­er­ated more than 32,000 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice.

“Since 2009, I’ve re­ally pri­or­i­tized help­ing and sup­port­ing and en­abling our em­ploy­ees to serve our com­mu­nity part­ners in the same way we serve our health­care part­ners,” Mus­sle­white said. “We hear all the time that em­ploy­ees re­ally value that.”

To en­sure em­ploy­ees re­main sat­is­fied and en­er­gized at work, the company runs a rig­or­ous per­for­mance man­age­ment process, let­ting staff know how they’re do­ing and of­fer­ing them “ca­reer vis­i­bil­ity” so they know where the company ex­pects them to be years down the line.

“That’s a place where we’re mak­ing a ton of in­vest­ment— to be sure that while we’re look­ing at an em­ployee’s fu­ture tra­jec­tory, to be sure they un­der­stand what that tra­jec­tory is,” Mus­sle­white said.

He noted that the company has pro­moted more than 40% of its staff in each of the past two years. “Then they can strive for it and get ex­cited about it and make sure they’re de­vel­op­ing the skills that keep them on that tra­jec­tory.”

Wong, who sits on a ca­reer plan­ning com­mit­tee, said the mem­bers spend a lot of time and en­ergy rec­og­niz­ing the chal­lenges em­ploy­ees face and strive to cre­ate bet­ter work en­vi­ron­ments so they have op­por­tu­ni­ties to suc­ceed.

“We tend to hire mostly peo­ple from the in­dus­try, and it’s easy to come in with men­tal bag­gage from their pre­vi­ous work ex­pe­ri­ences,” he said. “I al­ways ask peo­ple to leave that bag­gage at the door. This place is not like the last place.”

Ad­vi­sory Board team mem­bers com­peted in the firm’s 5K char­ity race dur­ing its Week of Ser­vice in Oc­to­ber of this year.

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