Emphasizing the mission
Advisory Board Co. aims to unleash workers’ capabilities
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.