Fam­ily-Friendli­est Award: Em­ploy­ers em­brace their ex­tended fam­i­lies

Modern Healthcare - - BEST PLACES TO WORK 2017 - By Rita Pyril­lis

The founders of Tal­ent Plus, a global hu­man re­sources con­sult­ing firm, re­al­ized early on that good food and fresh cof­fee have a way of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether, so they make sure that there are plenty of both at the com­pany’s Lin­coln, Neb., head­quar­ters.

Em­ploy­ees break bread to­gether in a gourmet-level cafe­te­ria and gather around the sole cof­fee pot on the top floor of a three-story build­ing—a strate­gic move to get peo­ple walk­ing and talk­ing to each other, ac­cord­ing to Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Di­rec­tor Cyd­ney Koukol.

“One of our founders, Doug Rath, had a mother who was a won­der­ful cook, and he knew that you can show car­ing through food as well as know­ing that the way to one’s soul is through shar­ing food,” she said. “And while we have a larger foot­print in our build­ing today, we con­tinue to have just one kitchen and one cof­fee pot, en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to come to­gether dur­ing var­i­ous parts of their day and con­nect­ing with oth­ers from dif­fer­ent parts of our build­ing and across dif­fer­ent busi­ness units.”

With 75 U.S. em­ploy­ees, the com­pany goes through about 20 pounds of cof­fee a week, ac­cord­ing to ex­ec­u­tive chef Scott Burkle, who over­sees the Taste of Tal­ent kitchen where he pre­pares break­fast, lunch and af­ter­noon snacks.

He also has cooked for em­ploy­ees’ wed­dings, fu­ner­als, birthdays and has even sent meals home to an em­ployee go­ing through can­cer treat­ment and to a re­tiree who suf­fered a stroke.

“If they’re sick I make soup; if it’s a death in the fam­ily I’ll send home lasagna,” he said. “We do cater­ing so em­ploy­ees can use our ser­vices any­time at work or home. We also have a leftovers pro­gram so kids at home can con­sume our food too. If their fam­ily is healthy, em­ploy­ees will do well at work.”

The com­pany pays for 66% of the kitchen costs and em­ploy­ees can rent the din­ing space for fam­ily events at no cost, ac­cord­ing to Koukol.

Tal­ent Plus wants em­ploy­ees to feel at home—so much so that there are two houses on the cor­po­rate cam­pus where trav­el­ing as­so­ci­ates can stay while they’re in town on busi­ness.

“We want peo­ple to bring their kids to work, so we do a lot of things around fam­ily events like a pump­kin patch at Hal­loween,” says Kim­berly Rath, who co-founded the com­pany with her hus­band, Doug. She said peo­ple know other’s chil­dren by name and as­so­ci­ates keep toys and other spe­cial items in their draw­ers in case chil­dren visit the of­fice.

The com­pany also goes the ex­tra mile to make new moms feel spe­cial with a newly re­mod­eled lac­ta­tion room and a gift box of materials needed to pump and store breast milk wait­ing for them when they re­turn to work.

“When I came back, I had my box on my desk and my team put pictures of my son on my desk every day dur­ing my first week back,” says Client Ser­vices Man­ager Arah Spur­geon. “It was a great tran­si­tion back to work.”

Fam­ily is also cen­tral to the cul­ture at HopeWest, a hospice ser­vices provider based in Grand Junc­tion, Colo., ac­cord­ing to Mary Wig­ing­ton, vice pres­i­dent of hu­man re­sources.

“The work of hospice care isn’t easy,” she says. “It takes a unique per­son to do it. It’s heavy in an emo­tional sense, so we are all about self-care when it comes to our em­ploy­ees. We have art ther­apy, aro­mather­apy, flex­i­ble sched­ules, men­tal health days, any­thing that helps them stay whole as an in­di­vid­ual and as an em­ployee and par­ent.”

Ben­e­fits such as tu­ition re­im­burse­ment, an em­ployee as­sis­tance pro­gram, dis­counted movie tick­ets, work-from-home poli­cies and gen­er­ous paid time off en­able HopeWest em­ploy­ees to in­te­grate work and home in a healthy way, Wig­ing­ton said.

HopeWest has 370 em­ploy­ees, mostly nurses, cer­ti­fied nurs­ing as­sis­tants and so­cial work­ers, and 1,500 vol­un­teers in four lo­ca­tions.

“Our em­ploy­ees feel val­ued and cared for and they project that back into the great work that they do,” she says. “Hav­ing a fam­ily-friendly work­life makes that hap­pen.”

At Sut­ter Davis (Calif.) Hos­pi­tal, a cul­ture of car­ing is em­bed­ded in its com­pany val­ues, and a set of ex­pected be­hav­iors is taught to new em­ploy­ees dur­ing ori­en­ta­tion, said Don Hart­man, di­rec­tor of hu­man re­sources.

“It seems small, but it’s a big deal in our cul­ture,” he said. “We have a rule of al­ways es­cort­ing peo­ple to their des­ti­na­tion. We don’t give di­rec­tions and point.”

Sut­ter Davis’ cul­ture is a point of pride for em­ploy­ees who are en­cour­aged to bring their fam­i­lies to all hos­pi­tal events, such as the an­nual fall pic­nic and the win­ter cel­e­bra­tion awards ban­quet. The hos­pi­tal has about 500 em­ploy­ees, 80 doc­tors and 140 vol­un­teers who are all in­vited to th­ese events, ac­cord­ing to Hart­man.

“Whether it’s a vol­un­teer or an em­ployee, we treat everyone as one large fam­ily,” Hart­man said. “Fam­i­lies are a part of ev­ery­thing we do.”

As­so­ciate Mark Epp and his wife, Melissa, en­ter­tain Tal­ent Plus as­so­ci­ates’ chil­dren at the an­nual hol­i­day party with an an­i­mated read­ing of The Po­lar Ex­press.

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