Only 30 percent of the 100 million Americans who work full time are actively engaged at work, according to a recent Gallup survey. Another 50 percent are uninspired, while 20 percent “simply roam the halls spreading discontent.”
Those uninspired and disengaged employees have significant negative impact on an organization, says Midge Streeter, a talent management consultant at Sequent.
“All of the information coming out of HR research is telling the same story, and there’s more attention being given to employee engagement now than at any time in the past 20 years,” Streeter says.
Smart Business spoke with Streeter about how having engaged employees boosts the bottom line, and why engagement is particularly important for midsize companies.
What does it mean to be an engaged employee?
Engaged employees are very passionate about their employer relationship and their job. They display a high sense of commitment and willingness to go the extra mile, which translates into the service they provide to customers. A disengaged employee has no commitment to the company, let alone its customers.
All employees have a certain amount of time to manage as they see fit. Employee engagement is about leveraging that discretionary time for the greater good of the organization.
How can a company improve engagement?
There is no magic bullet; leadership has many options available. If you want to move the needle, a good first step is to assess your starting point through an employee engagement or culture survey. Just creating the survey creates low-hanging fruit because engagement increases when employees see that leadership is asking for their feedback.
Using survey results, create an action plan to increase employee engagement. Depending on the results, you might focus on leadership development, or coaching and management training.
There are some common themes in survey results. One is related to a lack of meaningful training for employees to grow their careers. Another is a lack of respect, usually stemming from employees feeling that they’re being micromanaged by someone who doesn’t allow them to make decisions. There also can be a lack of connection to company goals — if employees understand those goals, they can better align actions to help meet them.
How do you measure the success of action plans?
Go back after six or 12 months and re-administer the survey to see if the action plan has been successful in increasing employee engagement.
At the same time, look at business indicators such as sales and customer satisfaction to see how you’re progressing because of increased engagement. Another indicator might be based on innovation and how long it takes to deploy a new product or service. There are various business indicators that can be used in relationship with employee engagement to see how they’re connected. If the indicators show you’re not getting the anticipated result, that tells you that the action plan needs to be reworked.
To get the most ROI from engagement efforts, validate the performance indicator results with an Employee Engagement certification audit. That can help brand your organization as an employer of choice.
Why is employee engagement particularly important for small and midsize companies?
As we come out of the recession and the job market improves, turnover is expected in the next 12 to 24 months. That can have a significant impact on a midsize business, especially when key stakeholders leave and take a lot of intellectual capital with them. Midsize companies need to focus on engagement to retain those key employees.
That can be a challenge because leaders in small and midsize organizations wear many hats, and may not have expertise in-house that can help.
Companies that get the most bang for their buck understand that employee engagement drives overall organizational performance. That’s why it’s critical to focus on business performance indicators — you will move the needle on them if you improve your employee engagement score.
Midge Streeter is a talent management consultant at Sequent. Reach her at (614) 652-9965 or email@example.com.
Book: Learn how to engage employees, download “The 7 Steps to Employee Engagement” e-Book: http://info.sequent.biz/download-the-7-steps-to-employee-engagement.
Insights HR Outsourcing is brought to you by Sequent
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” — William James, American philosopher and psychologist
In an increasingly stressful world, William James’ remarks are just as accurate and relevant today as they were when he said them more than a century ago. We face countless stressful forces, most of them beyond our control — changing market conditions, economic uncertainty, new laws and regulations, and competition, to name just a few.
Confronted with circumstances and situations that we can’t change, our only hope is to affect what we can — our own thoughts and actions. Only by managing ourselves can we exert some control over our physical and mental health.
The first step is to change the way we think about stress. Rather than trying to take control by accomplishing more, we need a different tack — getting back to basics, with time-proven strategies like slowing down, truly connecting and living in the moment.
Why do these work? Because they tap into our fundamental need for purpose and meaning and help us remember what really matters. They allow us to put stress into perspective and truly gain control — not of what’s happening around us, but of ourselves.
For most of us, staying connected means having around-the-clock access to our phones and email. However, nothing replaces face-to-face conversation, where you’re intently focusing on the person next to you and they’re doing the same. That kind of connectedness is a need we all share and it can’t be replaced with a screen or monitor.
Rather than constantly emailing the colleague next door, think about having more in-person, direct communication. Likewise, make a personal commitment to carve out meaningful time for the important people in your life.
The last thing you want to do when you’re stressed out is to slow down. But the reality is that even a short break for quiet and relaxation will reap you benefits tenfold.
Even 20 minutes to go for a walk on a tree-lined street or to sit on a park bench makes a difference.
Whatever you choose, making time to slow down won’t set you back — it will actually refresh you and give you more energy.
Having faith means different things for different people. If you have faith in a higher being, then you know it’s a source of strength.
Making time to read short meditations or prayers can center and rejuvenate you. Others find faith in themselves or in modern philosophers.
In either case, it’s important to find a source that fuels you when the going gets tough.
Find your fire.
A sure-fire way to relieve stress is to focus on something you truly love and feel passionate about. When you’re engaged in an activity you deeply enjoy, everything else recedes into the background.
Make time for activities you love and recapture that childhood enthusiasm.
Laugh it off.
Research suggests that laughing has healthful effects. But we don’t need scientists to verify that laughing feels good. Let your guard down and laugh when the situation calls for it.
If you can’t laugh at your natural surroundings, then create a laugh break by watching or reading something you find funny. Or do an activity that’s sure to make you laugh — like miniature golf, bowling, an amusement park or karaoke. However you do it, make laughter and humor a routine part of your life, not a special occasion.
Donna Rae Smith is a guest blogger and columnist for Smart Business. She is the founder and CEO of Bright Side Inc.®, a transformational change catalyst company that has partnered with more than 250 of the world’s most influential companies. For more information, visit www.bright-side.com or contact Donna Rae Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine it’s a hot day. You’re thirsty and hungry, but don’t want anything unhealthy. There aren’t many options available to meet all those needs. In the early ’70s, the concept of the smoothie was born out of this unmet need. Opened in 1973, Smoothie King Franchises Inc. was the original smoothie brand.
In 2001, Wan Kim had this same urge to find a healthy option to quench his thirst and satisfy his hunger. He had his first experience with a Smoothie King smoothie while studying at University of California at Irvine. The high quality, healthy product had him hooked immediately.
Kim was so impacted by the product that he became a Smoothie King franchisee in South Korea. Since 2003 he has owned several Smoothie King franchises, and in 2012 when the opportunity came about to own the brand, he jumped at the chance.
“I bought the company in July 2012,” says Kim, Global CEO. “I really love this brand. It’s not because I’m the owner, but because we have great products. There are a lot of changes still happening, but it’s exciting.”
Smoothie King, a 300-employee, more than $230 million organization, is now 40 years old. The brand has more than 700 stores and a presence in the United States, Korea and Singapore. Despite the company’s established age and fairly big size, a new owner and plenty of potential market opportunity leave the brand in growth mode today.
“Our next five-year growth plan is to open 1,000 stores in the U.S. and 500 outside the U.S.,” Kim says. “Last year the company did about 26 franchise openings. This year in the first quarter the company has done 40 to 45 signings.”
Kim’s experience as a franchisee and now a franchisor has given the company new life and Kim is excited about where he can bring the brand and its smoothies in the near future.
Here’s how Kim is spreading the word about Smoothie King in the U.S. and overseas.
Understand all areas of your business
Kim was a franchisee for nearly a decade in South Korea. His stores were some of the highest grossing for Smoothie King before he became CEO.
“Obviously franchisees and franchisors have some different views, but eventually the bottom line is to make a better brand,” Kim says. “The path they take can be different, so you have to keep communicating to each other and look at the bigger picture.”
Kim has a very unique advantage over numerous other franchise CEOs. He now has experience as a franchisee and a franchisor.
“I have both aspects and know what a franchise wants and needs, and I know how I need to communicate,” he says. “In any kind of business, sometimes people forget why we do it. So that’s why I keep communicating and keep telling our people why we do this business. We have a great mission and a great vision. We just have to talk about it.
“A lot of people want to make money and be comfortable and I get that and that’s very, very important, but there has to be another reason why we do this. Smoothie King is a healthy choice and our mission is to help people live a better lifestyle.”
While the company’s mission is to help people live a healthier lifestyle, Kim wanted to make sure that the company’s franchises were in good health also.
“As soon as I bought the company I looked at how many single franchisees we have, because when I was a franchisee I thought becoming a multi-unit franchisee was actually very challenging,” he says. “As a franchisor, they don’t understand what kind of challenges franchisees have when they have a second or third location.
“I started to visit some multi-unit franchisees that we have to look at what kind of system they have in place. Today, we are assembling all those systems so that whenever we have a single franchisee try to become a multi-unit franchisee we have some system to help them grow.”
Having those systems in place will become very beneficial as Kim continues to look at ways he can expand the brand.
“Right now we are in growth mode and are opening a lot of stores and also expanding into other countries,” Kim says. “When you grow, you are hiring a lot of people and when you’re expanding outside the United States you encounter different cultures. In order for me to assemble all those differences I need a really strong mission for why we do this business so that it doesn’t matter what kind of culture or background you’re from.”
Prepare for growth mode
Today, Kim is focused on growing the Smoothie King brand outside the U.S. and in the Southern parts of the U.S. where the company has a strong presence, but a lot of potential still remains.
“We want to make sure that we secure our market before we expand to a different part of the U.S.,” Kim says. “That expansion is happening in Florida, Texas, Georgia and other southern parts of the U.S. Going outside the United States we are looking at Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and the Middle East. Our goal is to open two markets this year and two more markets next year.”
Fast-paced growth like Smoothie King is expecting requires a strong culture and mission that make the company attractive anywhere it goes.
“When you are in growth mode I would advise that you want to have a really strong culture in your organization, so that whomever you hire can be blended into your culture,” he says. “You have to set up a strong mission, vision and keep communicating with your employees.”
When you take your company outside of the United States you will experience a lot of cultural difference, and you have to be prepared for it.
“A lot of times when people don’t have any experience with different cultures they will think it’s wrong, but in fact it’s different,” Kim says. “In order for you to go to other countries and do business you have to learn how to respect their culture. If you don’t respect their culture they will know immediately. You have to educate your employees.”
The vast cultural differences Smoothie King employees will experience as the brand continues to expand isn’t the only change they’ll have to accept, they’ll also have to buy into the sheer amount of growth that Kim sees in the company’s future.
“A lot of times when companies grow employees don’t really see how far we can go,” he says. “When we start to grow there is a lot of work coming in and a lot of things are changing. It is very important that I need to keep communicating with employees that we can get there, because if you don’t believe we can get there, then it’s not going to happen.”
One of the first things Kim did when he bought the company was to tell the employees about the growth plan and a lot of people didn’t buy in.
“They were thinking, ‘Oh, it’s a new owner; of course he’s going to be thinking of growth, but it’s not possible,’” he says. “So I had to keep communicating that it’s going to happen and one by one, I started to show them that this would happen and then it really happened and people believed in the plan. I know there are still people who don’t believe where we can go, so I still have to communicate.”
Kim bought the company a little more than a year ago and he is having a blast seeing the company succeed little by little.
“I tell my employees to imagine if we were the size of any big fast food company, the world could be a different place,” he says. “It’s not just about making money and having success. It’s also about influencing more and more people to live a healthier lifestyle.”
How to reach: Smoothie King Franchises Inc., (985) 635-6973 or www.smoothieking.com
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year conference in Monte Carlo. I’m back to report that entrepreneurship is alive and thriving around the globe!
It was a whirlwind of a trip, packed with networking, thought-provoking panel discussions and personal interviews. We heard from a remarkable panel of speakers including Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize recipient; Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web; John Cleese, award-winning actor, author, humorist and Monty Python legend; and many more.
I also had the opportunity to sit down with some of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs. These business leaders come from more than 60 countries that combined represent a staggering 94 percent of the global economy.
In this issue and in the months to come, you’ll learn what the world’s greatest entrepreneurs have to say about leadership, innovation, overcoming challenges, bringing their visions to life and much, much more. You’ll also hear from the leadership at EY as to the importance of celebrating entrepreneurship.
Transforming vision into reality
“Be careful about making assumptions. Those assumptions can lead you down a pretty dangerous path. It is OK to make assumptions and have confidence but you had better do your due diligence as well. An assumption is having those critical for the business make sure it is happening. I am very trusting of people and in the past have had some unfortunate instances where I did make assumptions about something and they were completely the wrong assumptions.”
Dr. Alan Ulsifer, CEO, president and chair of FYidoctors
“Growth obviously continues to be a challenge. The markets demand growth if you are a publicly traded company, and growth is a metric of how the business is doing. If you want to continue to attract the best people, attract the right sources of capital to your business, you have to demonstrate that things are going well and growth is one measure that people look to. I think that if you are a business in an established market, growth can be a challenge because those markets by and large are growing more slowly. So in order to get more rapid growth, many companies are looking at emerging markets and trying to figure out what their strategy should be for emerging markets, those that have double-digit growth potential.”
Bryan Pearce, Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year and Venture Capital Advisory Group EY
“One of the toughest things for me was that people have a certain image of my country, Colombia. They don’t trust a company there to have good quality and do good work, but I am very proud to offer those qualities from Colombia. It is not easy but it is something that you can accomplish. I have been down a lot of times, but the good thing I have noticed is that every time something like that happened, I have been able to obtain positive things out of it. I have been broke multiple times, but from being broke I have been able to learn from it and rebuild.
Mario Hernandez, founder and president, Mario Hernandez
Jim Turley leaves his post as Global Chairman and CEO for EY with deep admiration for the entrepreneurs who continue to use their vision and spirit of innovation to change the world.
“They have got this wonderful ability to think outside themselves, to look at the world outside these windows and see the needs that exist out there,” says Turley, who officially retired on July 1.
“Then they’ve got a vision to create a product or service or an idea to meet the need they have seen. They have got the courage to risk everything and they are as persistent as can be. Most of them fail the first time out. But they get up, clean themselves off and do it again.”
“Work carefully with a few people who get a twinkle in their eye. If you talk about your idea, some people will respond with excitement because they get it, but not everybody. Maybe you talk to 300 people and three people will get it. Work with those three people. The web took off because a few people all over the world got it. You get the support from a few people who get it and then it builds from there.”
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web
Corey Shapoff has a job that many would envy, booking well-known musical acts such as Maroon 5, Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson for live concerts and private corporate events. But he doesn’t take much time to stop and think about all the famous people on his call list.
“I’m a grinder,” says Shapoff, president and founder of SME Entertainment Group. “I’m the kind of guy who is always looking to what’s next. You’re only as good to me as your last deal.”
It’s that instinctual drive to always try to do it better that is embedded in the true entrepreneur and allows the next vision to become a reality.
“It’s hard for me to turn it off and say, ‘That’s great,’” Shapoff says. “I’m always thinking about tomorrow. You just can’t take things for granted in our business.”
“The skill sets of an entrepreneur involve understanding how to create business. So if you’re going to give back, why not work with kids who need it the most and actually teach them and help them to be entrepreneurs. That’s what is going to grow our economy and create stability where otherwise we’re going to have a lot of social unrest.”
Amy Rosen, president and CEO, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
“When you’re an entrepreneur you feel like you have never met a deal that you didn’t like. You only have limited resources and limited time to be successful. You have to stay disciplined and focused and being able to say what we are not is every bit as important as being able to say what we are.”
Jim Davis, president, Chevron Energy Solutions
“It’s important that you have teamwork and all your top players are well motivated with passion, principles and values. We make sure that people know where we are going and what our main objective is for that year. We promote teamwork inside and outside the company. Our directors have to make sure they are sharing our company values and principles with each of their team members.”
Lorenzo Barrera Segovia, founder and CEO, Banco Base
“For entrepreneurs you get a great idea, you start your business and then you have to keep focused. Keep executing that idea if that idea is big enough. Never fall into the temptation of getting out of your business or change it unless it’s strategic. Secondly, try to get financing as late as you can. Never get financing as soon as you can. Thirdly, create a great team and culture, because that’s what will prevail and create value for shareholders and your community. That’s how you scale your business. The last one is to dream big.”
Martin Migoya, CEO, Globant
“It was nothing but a gut feeling. The only thing I knew was there was a big opportunity in yogurt. I grew up with yogurt. Being from Turkey yogurt was a big part of our diet. I wasn’t sure if I could do it – break through in the world of yogurt in retail.
The category was owned by two major companies; Dannon and Yopliat owned about 70 percent of the market, and they had been there for years. As a startup you go to the specialty stores first. That’s how you start and you grow and once you reach a certain level then you go to the big retailers.
I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to go to the big retailers and be in the regular dairy aisle. That was a crazy idea and nobody thought that would go, but at least we tried. When we tried, we convinced one retailer in New York, ShopRite. The result from that was we were able to expand to a couple of other retailers. After the second or third customer that we had success with for our yogurt, I knew it wasn’t going to be about selling, it was about making enough.”
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder, president and CEO, Chobani Inc.
One of my favorite business books, which also made it as a Broadway play and a big-screen movie, is “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. My hero in this story is not the young orphaned Dorothy, nor the Cowardly Lion, the desperately in-need-of-some WD-40 Tin Man, nor even the Scarecrow in search of a brain.
Instead it is the Wizard. To understand why the dubious Wizard is my favorite character, one must get past the portrayal of him as scheming, phony and at times nasty.
To appreciate the man behind the curtain, recognize that he is a very effective presenter, though at times this ex-circus performer behaved a bit threatening. OK, he was a jerk, but the point of this column is to take you down the yellow brick road on the way to the enchanted Emerald City and corporate success.
From this tale there is a lesson that one can say all sorts of things, not be visible, and yet still have a meaningful impact.
Another takeaway is that playing this role provides plausible deniability. This absence of visual recognition is particularly beneficial in negotiating when you, as the boss, use a vicar, aka a mouthpiece, to speak on your behalf. This allows you to have things said to others that you as the head honcho could never utter without backing yourself into a corner.
Another plus is you can always throw your mouthpiece under the bus if necessary, of course, with his or her upfront understanding that sometimes there must be a sacrificial lamb. This is not only character-building for your stand-in, but also many times presents an unprecedented opportunity for him or her to learn in real time.
Perhaps the Wizard was the first behind-the-curtain decision-maker, but today this role is used frequently in business and government. In a similar vein, the “voice” of Charlie from the well-known 1970s TV series “Charlie’s Angels” was always heard, but he was never seen.
Frequently there is much to be said for using anonymity to float a trial balloon just to get a reaction. Think about a son having his mom test the waters by talking to dad before the son tells him he wants to drop out of junior high school to join the circus. Maybe that’s even how our former circus-drifter-turned-Wizard-of-Oz got his start.
In the negotiating process it is important to have a fallback when the talks hit a rough patch by instructing your vicar to backpedal, saying that he or she has just talked to the chief and the benevolent boss said, “I was overreaching with my request.”
This also serves to build a persona for the boss-behind-the-curtain as someone who is fair-minded and flexible. All the while, of course, it’s the boss who is calling the shots and maneuvering through the process without getting his or her hands dirty.
The value of using this clean-hands technique is that it enables the real decision-maker to come in as the closer who projects the voice of reason, instead of the overeager hard charger who at times seems to have gone rogue.
It actually takes a bigger person to play a secondary role behind the curtain rather than always be in the limelight. It also takes a hands-on coach and counselor to maneuver a protégé through the minefields to achieve the objective.
However, accomplishing the difficult tasks through others is true management and the No. 1 job of a leader who must be a master teacher.
After you have guided a handful of up-and-comers a few times through thorny negotiations, you will gain much more satisfaction than if you had done it yourself, while engendering the respect and gratitude of your pupils. They in turn will have learned by doing, even though they were not really steering the ship alone.
The final step is to let the subordinate take credit for getting the big job done. This will also elevate you to rock star status, at least in his or her eyes. Soon those who you’ve taught will emerge as teachers too, and the big benefit is that you will populate your organization with a stellar team of doers, not just watchers.
So, forget about the Wicked Witch of the West and move backstage for the greater good of the organization.
A few years ago, one of my friends embarked on what he deemed an ambitious, yet simple plan: Write a New York Times Best Seller.
“Ed” had reason to be optimistic: His first two books had sold well and he had successfully leveraged them to launch a burgeoning consulting practice. Ed also had a nationally known book publisher to handle distribution for this book, and he had developed a comprehensive marketing and promotions plan for the launch.
Ed felt all the pieces were in place and was sure he would succeed. His goals were two-fold: break out from the pack and grow his business, and hit the New York Times Best Seller’s list. While his head told him the first goal was more realistic, his heart was set on the second — publicly claiming it was his only true benchmark of success.
Needless to say, Ed’s book didn’t make the list. Few books do. That doesn’t mean Ed’s book was a failure. Quite the contrary, it was a huge success.
As a result of Ed’s book, he landed numerous speaking engagements with organizations and companies around the world. He began to command four- and five-figure speaking fees from those engagements, and his book was purchased and distributed to every attendee.
Further, Ed’s speaking engagements lead to dozens of private companies hiring him to provide one- and two-day seminars, where he taught executive teams how to implement the ideas he espoused in the book. Ed was also presented with numerous business opportunities for new and existing clients to tackle initiatives beyond the book’s subject matter that he had not previously considered but were related to his expertise.
Finally, Ed did sell thousands upon thousands of copies of his book in bookstores nationwide and online through booksellers like Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. His book was in the hands of the right people — and lots of them — and he had established a national profile.
Viewed through this lens, there is little doubt that Ed’s book was wildly successful — even if it wasn’t a New York Times Best Seller and even if it didn’t stack up to his primary benchmark.
This is the reality of book publishing. Each month, I speak with dozens of entrepreneurs and CEOs about their nascent book ideas and the possibility of having Smart Business Books handle development and publication of their stories and manuscripts. I begin every conversation the exact same way: “If your goal is to have a New York Times Best Seller, we’re not the right option for you.”
That’s because you should write books for the right reasons. If your only goal is getting on a best-seller’s list, then your ambitions are off the mark. Writing and publishing a book is not like a professional sports team’s season — there isn’t one winner who takes the championship and a bunch of losers who fall short. Publishing a book is not an all-or-nothing proposition.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t aim high with your goals, and having your book become a best-seller is certainly one way to measure success. Setting reasonable expectations, however, is essential.
So why write a book?
One of the most important questions you should be able to answer when thinking about writing a book is, “Who is going to read it and why?”
As Ed’s story demonstrates, a book is a very useful business development tool. It is an immediate conversation starter, an excellent credibility builder and one heck of a leave-behind. If you’re engaged in marketing, why not capture your expertise through a book?
Another reason is to celebrate a milestone or establish a legacy piece. It could be for a 50th or 100th anniversary, or to recognize the history of an organization upon the founder’s retirement or death.
And, if you are interested in helping others succeed, a book is a great way to share your expertise or what makes you and your organization special. For example, if you’ve built an amazing corporate culture where productivity blossoms and innovation flourishes, the “how” and “why” are good subjects for a book. And if you’ve been involved with several mergers and acquisitions, consider sharing what worked and what didn’t, and the lessons learned along the way.
Whatever your story, the key is having a reason to share it with others. The bottom line: It’s your story. Make it count.
It’s an unfortunate fact of business — over the last 20 years, lawsuits brought on by a company’s employees are up 400 percent. Businesses are constantly striving to stay ahead of the game as it relates to employer-employee relations, seeking information and tools to protect the business from getting into long, expensive legal battles with employees.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is answering the needs of the Ohio business community through the expanded HR Academy. Launched last year by providing HR Academy webinars, the program has expanded this year to provide even more human resource services. Businesses often don’t have the means to employ an HR professional or navigate the complicated HR laws themselves. So the Ohio Chamber’s HR Academy gives employers the tools to help them stay compliant.
Knowing your rights as an employer is essential to protecting your business. Business owners need someone on the inside with a broad understanding of the legal issues that can affect employer-employee relations. The HR Academy is the perfect tool for business owners to make sure their HR staff is well-informed.
In addition, the HR Academy helps human resource professionals and employment lawyers stay up-to-date on the issues that can affect employer-employee relations. The HR Academy curriculum is accredited by the Society of Human Resource Management and is delivered through a series of online webinars and in-person symposiums. Participants of the program receive HR Certification Institute credits (for human resource professionals) and Continuing Legal Education credits (for lawyers).
Other products offered through the HR Academy include the following:
HR Symposiums: Held in cooperation with local chambers throughout the state, these monthly symposiums offer a variety of topics from social media in the workplace to the latest in employment law. The symposiums are presented by sponsoring HR Academy law firms.
Ohio HR Manual: Produced in conjunction with Squire Sanders, an Ohio-based law firm with employment law expertise, we now offer a comprehensive HR Manual packed with information about employment law and human resource-related matters, all presented in an easy-to-understand manner.
Employment Law Posters: Ohio law says that every employer must have its NLRA Employment posters displayed in an easily accessible area in a place of business. Failure to do so can result in a fine by the state. Business owners can make sure they are in compliance by purchasing posters from us.
Also, for the first time, we will be offering businesses an opportunity to brand the NLRA posters. A perfect “thank you” gift for anyone you do business with — clients, vendors, distributors, etc. — the posters can be branded with your company name and logo.
The HR Academy can be purchased as a yearly subscription for $1,200 that can be billed monthly and includes webinars, human resource symposiums, employment law posters, HR Books and access to HR legal experts. Items can also be purchased individually by visiting www.hracademyohio.com.
The HR Academy webinars and symposiums are presented by sponsoring law firms with employment law expertise from around the state. The current HR Academy sponsors include Squire Sanders (Presenting Sponsor) and Baker Hostetler (Cornerstone Sponsor). Innovator Sponsors include Dinsmore & Shohl, Eastman & Smith, Jones Day, Roetzel & Andress, and Steptoe & Johnson. Fishel, Hass, Kim and Albrecht is a Partner Sponsor.
Beau Euton is vice president of membership for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the Ohio Chamber’s HR Academy, contact Michelle Donovan at email@example.com.
Dr. Thomas “Tim” Stover admits it hasn’t been easy paddling upstream, and he’s been doing it for years in the health care industry. Stover has been trying to convince hospital staff, doctors and the public that the solution to the health care crisis isn’t to spend less to treat sick people, but to help them not to get sick in the first place.
Stover, president and CEO of the 5,200-employee Akron General Health System, has spent considerable time, effort and money trying to change its mission to a different side of the health care continuum — the prevention and wellness side.
“When you talk about trying to cut the costs or bending the cost curve in health care or in the sick-care model, the only real way to do that is to change it to a well-care model,” Stover says.
By Stover’s accounting, he and his team have spent about $100 million over the years to basically keep people out of the hospital.
“That’s not what most CEOs and hospitals are supposed to do,” he says. “The way we are paid right now is to fill the place up. We are dealing in a volume-sensitive industry, and we are trying to do everything we can to decrease the volume, but the sick-care model really incentivizes you to get sick or stay sick. I think that is totally upside down. It is the wrong message to send to our community.”
The recently enacted Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been turning the examination light on the health care system more than ever. While the ACA is designed to make health insurance coverage more affordable for Americans and reduce the overall costs of health care, confusion and anxiety have arisen over the interpretations of the law, and many critics are not convinced the measure will save expenses.
Here’s how Stover and Akron General Health System are taking a concept that goes against the grain — and gives the customer what he or she wants and needs.
Find a better way
Keeping expenses in line is a fundamental principle of basic economics. You have to judge whether your expenses are too high in light of your sales.
But Stover’s education and experience were telling him that there had to be a different and better way for the health system, which had revenues of $600 million last year.
As he saw it, the only way to cut costs or to bend the cost curve in the sick-care model was to change it to a well-care model. The next step for Stover was to consider what patients really needed. There will always be a need for the sick-care model, but the well-care model is the wave of the future.
“In this area, the expectation for excellence in Northeast Ohio is a given by people who use our services,” Stover says. “So when people walk into any of our institutions, the first thing they expect is that they are going to get the best care that you can get in the country, and pretty much they do.”
While researching the demand for treatment, the ability to analyze cause and effect brings dividends. Stover saw that the ax was falling on what government was going to pay for. Reimbursement was seemingly dropping on a daily basis.
“This effects how services are delivered because the demand is for you to deliver excellence on a daily basis. You’re getting measured on that and fined if you don’t do it [under the ACA],” Stover says.
Drilling down even deeper into the challenge you face may expose some other realities. Stover saw the dilemma he was in and the frustration it caused.
“At the same time as you are trying to deliver that level of quality which is an expectation in Northeast Ohio, you’ve got to do it for a price that is less than everybody else’s,” he says.
Be creative about the buy-in
If you have decided to go in a direction that may rub people the wrong way, you are going to ruffle some feathers. You may have to convert everyone from the bottom up to follow your new idea.
Stover and his team use a “white coat program,” which involves shadowing a doctor. For instance, one of the local community board members will spend a day with a doctor to see first-hand what it takes to meet the challenges of 24 hours.
The experience was particularly successful with one board member who criticized how expensive it was to deliver health care.
“It seemed to him to be very easy to take cost out because there appeared to be a lot of redundancy with everybody checking everybody else multiple times to make sure everything was right,” Stover says.
The board member spent a day with a cardiovascular surgeon and observed a heart operation.
“He was fascinated by the fact that he said the doctor’s nose was 6 inches from that woman’s heart,” Stover says. “He said, ‘The thing I realized that day was I looked around the room and there were 17 people taking care of that one patient. I also realized that you can’t outsource that business or that cost to China’ — which is what he did when he was operating his company.”
Another high-level holdout was a physician who was the chairman of medicine, who was an infectious disease doctor. It took Stover four years to turn around the doctor’s approach.
“He said, ‘You are crazy,’ and, ‘This will never work,’” Stover says. “I made it a personal endeavor to convert him.”
To bring him around, Stover kept him engaged in the effort and showed him the results it was bringing. A particularly effective method was to add the doctor to a medical advisory board of 12 physicians that the health system had in place.
“I wanted him to hear what we were doing,” Stover says. “We were deciding about the programs we were going to put into our facilities, the equipment we were going to buy, why we were using one type over another type of program.
“Those were decisions he had never given input on before; over time, what we were trying to do sunk in for him.”
Stover says that when the doctor retired he had become one of the biggest cheerleaders for the health system.
“He said the best things that ever happened to Akron General were the health and wellness centers,” he says
Have skin in the game
If people don’t think they have any skin in the game, whether it is tangible or intangible, there is no reason for them not to just do whatever they want to do, suffer the consequences of that and let someone else pay for them getting back in a state of wellness, Stover says.
So he narrowed his focus.
“This is not about the success of the Akron General Health System, but this is about the wellness of our Akron community,” he says. “The entity that should be doing that should be taking care of you when you are sick. It’s just that most health care systems don’t do that.”
By establishing wellness facilities that offer exercise equipment, physical therapists and rehabilitation nurses — and charging a fee to encourage commitment — outpatient services are blended with the lifestyle change service.
“We don’t charge a lot for the memberships,” Stover says. “Our Health & Wellness Center — West (Montrose) facility is full. It has 9,000 members. Of the members, 285 are doctors.”
While Stover has been CEO and president for 1½ years, he has been with Akron General since 1993.
“I just knew years ago that we needed to take health care to the patient — we should not make the patient come to us,” he says. “I think that’s arrogant. So I knew that was right. I had practiced for 30 years, and I was not from this system. I was from the other system so there was an immediate distrust of me for the first five years.”
The old adage that persistence pays off rang true.
“I just kept saying the same thing over and over again: ‘We’ve got to keep doing the right thing. We shouldn’t be afraid of this. We need to embrace this concept.’”
At some point, people will start to listen, Stover says.
Unexpected benefits may be the reward for your persistence. Stover has been getting interest in the well-care program from all over the world.
“We can show them our model, show them the success that all of these facilities basically break even before year three; usage of all the facilities usually more than doubles, sometimes triples in the first six months because people have a choice where to go for therapy — and they choose us because it is convenient,” he says.
A for-profit partnership has been formed between Akron General Health System and a local developer that not only finances but also builds facilities for other parties.
“We have business leads all over the country and actually at some point, we will be going to China because the developer has business leads in China,” he says.
“They are seeing the same thing. Their hospitals are full of sick folks. And they have to figure out how to keep them out.”
How to reach: Akron General Health System, (330) 344-6000 or www.akrongeneral.org
Look for and focus on a better way to do business.
Be creative about the buy-in once you have a plan.
Have skin in the game to ensure involvement.
The Stover File
Thomas “Tim” Stover, M.D.
President and CEO
Akron General Health System
Born: I was born in Wheeling, W. Va. I practiced medicine in Wheeling before moving to Akron in 1981.
Education: Bachelor of science and doctor of medicine degrees from West Virginia University. Stover completed internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology in 1976 at Akron City Hospital. He completed business courses at The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and at the Wharton School of Management before completing his MBA at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was actually working for my dad, Harl ‘Ben’ Stover. He was a small-business man in the small town that I grew up in of less than 600 people. He ran a general store, and he worked on cars. What I learned from him was that he took care of the family with that business. If he wasn't working, and doing the right thing by the customer, the people could drive to the big city to get what they wanted. He taught me a lot about working hard. He knew the basics of business, which were first to treat the customer right and then they will come back. That's the way I feel about patients too.
Who do you admire in business?
The system that I admire, because I was a patient there, is the Mayo Clinic. It is an enormous system but when you interact with the system, it actually feels small. The staff pays incredible attention to detail. I had to go there for a very serious illness. The reason that it is successful is not just because of the medical expertise and the research, but it was how the clinic delivers service. The first thing that hit me was that they were nice people first, and then they were really smart. But they didn't try to impress you with the fact that they were really smart first. They try to impress you with the fact that you actually mean something to them and that they were treating you the way that they would want to be treated.
What's the best business advice you have ever received?
I heard a great line the other day: ‘Cash is king and profit is an opinion.’ I love that, so I'm going to remember it. I know exactly where that pertains. I know there is a way we take care of patients clinically, and then there's a way that we get paid, and somehow they don't connect. The chairman of my department when I was a resident told me if you take great care of patients, both clinically and with your personality, people will be able to pick that up and they will come back. If you are bringing your ticked-off personality with you to work, the patient senses it and the customer definitely gets it, and you really just need to leave that at home.
What is your definition of business success?
When I took this job as a doctor I thought I would be paying attention to the finances as much as I would be to the patient. Well, I was wrong about that. I am paying attention to the finances. But I still think that the proof of the fact that you're doing it right is the ability to be sustainable. I think the measurement of success to me is that actually people come back.
2013 Healthcare Reform Seminar
In mid-July, Smart Business held the 2013 Healthcare Reform Seminar, presented by SummaCare, and sponsored by Rea & Associates, Sequent, Roetzel & Andress, The Greater Akron Chamber, and hosted by Firestone Country Club. More than 200 people heard insight, advice and strategy from a panel of experts on what employers need to know about healthcare reform.
Contact these insightful panelists to learn more: