Congratulations from Alliance Solutions Group to all of the 2019 Smart Culture honorees! It is personally rewarding to watch the growth of this community of culture-focused companies we are creating here in Northeast Ohio.
Today’s competitive recruitment environment makes culture more important than ever to attract and retain top talent. It’s arguably the biggest marketing tool for enticing candidates to join your business. It also happens to be fundamental to business success.
Since great culture is an organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage, creating and maintaining that culture has to be a priority. Leadership cultivates the foundation of culture to empower employees to achieve the company mission and realize how vital each of their contributions is to furthering those goals. Maintaining culture, especially through times of growth, requires dedication and focus.
As the leader of Alliance Solutions Group, I’ve made it my personal mission in 2019 to demonstrate the beliefs of the company and reinforce the behaviors that reflect those values. I’m committed to making sure our culture remains the living and breathing entity we can all embody as we grow. Culture can’t be delegated … It must be demonstrated.
As we move into our third year of the Smart Culture Conference, it’s exciting to witness the momentum we’ve created as we all look for more ways to invigorate and innovate. I’m excited to share these examples with you as we all know that GREAT cultures encourage employees to work toward becoming the best versions of themselves.
Register today for the 2019 Smart Culture Conference, presented by Alliance Solutions Group, featuring the 2019 Smart Culture Awards, on March 14, 2019 at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility, to celebrate great cultures and provide positive learning opportunities for those looking to enhance their organizational culture. Speakers will include Tony Mercurio, President & CEO, National Interstate Insurance and Jean Bourgeois, President, Excelas, LLC.
We will also be announcing the 2019 Buffalo Award winner, presented by CultureShoc.
ASI Environmental Services provides quality products and services for liquid waste management. In addition to its reputation for unparalleled service standards, integrity and a commitment to earning the trust of every customer, ASI prides itself on its experienced, well-trained staff. This team is united under a common goal: to protect the health of the nation, one satisfied client at a time.
Rejecting the term “employee” altogether, ASI’s team members realize it takes smart, hard-working, creative and diverse people to help its customers and environment. As such, CEO Krista Gesaman has built ASI’s culture on appreciation of the different talents that each individual brings to the organization.
Whether team members are considered a “service professional” or “scheduling professional,” each is trained and certified to be a leader in their position within the environmental services industry. To maintain a high degree of cutting-edge professionalism, ASI hosts weekly team trainings spanning industry developments, technical skills and safety protocols. Team members also participate in off-site training seminars.
Additionally, ASI provides positive, supportive team-building activities throughout the year such as birthday celebrations, monthly food holidays, quarterly community service activities, team competitions and more. Whether creating a float for the “Canal Days” parade, collecting food and clothing for the Canal Fulton S.A.L.T. box, or sponsoring a fourth-grade poster contest, these team activities help promote a fun, cohesive culture.
Bravo Wellness is a data-driven corporate wellness provider that empowers employers and health plans to achieve their most challenging wellness goals: proven reduction in health risks, measurable decreases in the benefits cost trends and strengthened overall team performance and culture. Bravo leadership, helmed by Founder and CEO Jim Pshock, applies this expertise within, intentionally striving to build a company where people want to work.
The company’s efforts begin with the hiring process, when candidates and new hires receive what Bravo calls “red carpet” treatment. A strategic onboarding program ensures an employee’s first week with Bravo is positive, productive and ultimately enjoyable. They receive a fun welcome box, are assigned a Bravo Buddy to help them get acquainted with the company and their role, and go through Bravo 101, a consistent overview of what Bravo does, who it serves and what leadership expects of every employee.
Pshock gets directly involved with this program, leading a session on the history of Bravo. His team also gathers HR surveys at various intervals and hosts a special session and scavenger hunt to ensure new hires have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions in a comfortable environment.
Bravo also hosts ongoing trainings and career development sessions to help retain top talent, provides employee recognition programs and is in the process of rolling out standing desks for all staff.
Cardinal Credit Union has been providing financial services to employees of companies and organizations in the Mentor/Cleveland area for more than half a century. A not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by its members, Cardinal offers a broad range of banking products and services, including checking accounts, CDs, credit cards, auto loans, debt-consolidation loans, mortgages and more.
President and CEO Christine Blake leads the company in building a strong culture that encourages and supports teamwork, integrity, mutual respect and accountability — Cardinal’s core values. The company’s ultimate goal is to provide an inclusive, collaborative and engaging workplace, where staff members are challenged to do their best and ideas are supported.
Offering opportunities for personal growth and professional development, Cardinal promotes its own strategic growth through an intensive management training program that encourages employees to think outside the box in providing unique solutions for financial challenges. It further supports staff through 401(k) plans, robust insurance options, alternative work arrangements, paid vacation, educational and continuing educational assistance and more.
Additionally, employees are recognized and highly compensated for referrals, sales production and service excellence. Cardinal also provides opportunities for community involvement and youth instruction. These efforts help the credit union attract and retain educated, hard-working employees and position the company as a community leader benefiting individuals and the Ohio community at large.
Cleveland Clinic is an integrated health care system consisting of 12 regional hospitals, 19 family health centers and locations in Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Canada, Abu Dhabi and London. Led by President and CEO Dr. Tomislav Mihaljevic, it’s also the second-largest employer in Ohio, with more than 53,000 caregivers.
All Cleveland Clinic employees — from the shuttle bus driver to the CEO — identify themselves as “caregivers.” United under the belief that every life deserves world-class care, this collective team is devoted to caring for each other as well as patients, resulting in a culture in which staff members are valued, nurtured and encouraged to achieve their very best.
Among the hospital’s top priorities are diversity and inclusion, with the aim of building a workforce that represents the patients and communities it serves. Also key are clear communication, transparency and employee recognition through daily intranet updates, ONE HR Workday and Portal, weekly e-blasts, monthly leadership meetings, celebrations and awards.
By supporting diverse specialists operating together as a unit, Cleveland Clinic has developed into one of the most efficient and innovative medical centers in the world. Its caregivers have made some of the most important breakthroughs in medicine, and their research is leading the way in tissue regeneration, the genetics of heart disease and breast cancer, and large-scale clinical trials of cardiovascular medicines.
Compass Packaging is a corrugated sheet plant that manufactures shipping containers and point of purchase displays. Established in 2003 with five employees, the family-owned business has grown to operate three production shifts supported by 75 team members.
Founder and President Phil Rath has grown the company with a focus on creating a safe and energetic work environment for its employees, while producing a quality product and providing quality service for its customers at a fair price. At the core of this effort is the belief that if you treat team members and vendors fairly, care of customers comes easily.
Compass Packaging management prides itself on providing excellent benefits, including a 50 percent company match on health and medical insurance, 100 percent covered disability, life and accidental death insurance, a partial 401(k) match with profit-sharing potential and a hefty turkey at Thanksgiving for all employees.
The company also engages its employees in an annual town hall meeting to review Compass Packaging’s core values and assess whether it’s being managed in accordance with them, ensuring everyone has a voice in the process.
Finally, the company also fosters fun within its community of Mantua with events like cookouts and paid movie days, as well as community engagement through the sponsorship of education scholarships, a police K9 training program and local youth sports teams.
Concept Services Ltd. is a leader in new business development and lead generation. Its diverse range of services includes outbound lead generation, inbound lead management, Salesforce design, implementation and support, data services, customer service and customer satisfaction.
Led by President and co-owner Dan Harsh, Concept has maintained the same passion for its employees as it did starting out as a small, family-owned business in 2002. Grown to employ a staff of 120 associates, the “Concept Culture” revolves around a workspace that encourages employees to take control of their careers.
Key to this focus has been cohesive communication. As the company has grown, Harsh invested in adding Chatter to its SalesForce interface, enabling employees to communicate with one another and with the whole company through a single platform. He also moved Concept’s operations last year from three separate campuses to a single 26,000-square-foot facility. Designed with open communal spaces and quiet private spaces, a game room and outdoor walking path, the new location promotes both productivity and relaxation to support the hard work and dedication Concept team members put in each day.
The company also invests in once-a-month professional development training sessions, excellent benefits, fun engagement activities like a holiday coffee and hot cocoa bar, and heartfelt thank yous to further ensure that employees feel happy and appreciated in their roles.
Fiber network services provider Everstream defines its culture by one attribute: transparency. Driving transparency both in communication and business dealings has enabled President and CEO Brett Lindsey to create a culture where team members want to work.
Promoting an open door policy at all levels of the business, Lindsey makes this focus clear from the very start, conducting one-on-one meetings with all new employees after 30 days of employment. From there, the company keeps employees apprised of goings-on through quarterly newsletters, monthly team meetings and a digital in-kitchen display showcasing routine updates.
Should employees have concerns, wants or needs in response to these updates, they can communicate directly with Everstream’s dedicated Culture Committee. Ideas can also be submitted anonymously through regular surveys or an idea box.
Investing in developing and rewarding team members is also critical to Everstream’s culture. The company’s human resources team hosts a Leadership Training Series with sessions covering topics including basics of leadership, coaching and feedback, and generational differences in the workplace. It also recognizes achievers through social media features, sales incentive programs and a monthly, quarterly and annual peer-driven employee recognition program, with rewards including an all-expenses paid trip.
Well-positioned to grow and succeed in their current roles, Everstream team members have a personal stake in the business as well, thanks to the company’s profit-sharing plan.
Providing pharmacy care for patients on multiple medications — including med reconciliation, refill management, presorted packaging and home delivery — ExactCare Pharmacy inspires its employees with a value proposition that is reflective of the organization’s dedication to patient care. Led by President and CEO Dale Wollschleger, R.Ph., this value proposition is detailed in ExactCare’s Patient Promise and Core Values, which focus on putting patients first.
Created specifically to drive the company’s culture and serve as a guide for everything it does, employee ownership of this message is driven by internal communications, training materials, office décor and more highlighting the Patient Promise in the first person, as “I am the Patient Promise.”
ExactCare Pharmacy’s Talent Acquisition team begins referencing the Patient Promise and Core Values at the beginning, from potential candidates’ initial phone screening to ensure they would be a good fit for the pharmacy’s culture. This focus is then consistently reinforced during the orientation and onboarding process, through individualized annual reviews and within an internal employee communication called the Daily Dose.
Every employee has the opportunity to submit content for the Daily Dose to highlight a co-worker or supervisor for going above and beyond. This peer-to-peer recognition, which also highlights birthdays and anniversaries, is an important complement to the many ways that employees can be acknowledged by the company and their supervisors, such as the Patient Promise Award and a recognition wall.
Excelas LLC is a national provider of medical record analysis and related services that help health care providers effectively respond to claims and litigation. However, while it emphasizes professional excellence in support of these services among its staff, Founder and President Jean Bourgeois also recognizes that employees have priorities and demands beyond their careers.
That’s why she drives a holistic approach to caring for Excelas employees. This includes supporting five employee-led teams focused on career well-being, physical well-being, social well-being, financial well-being and community well-being. Each team coordinates activities and volunteer opportunities to contribute to a culture of total well-being for all employees.
Excelas staff also has a number of channels to engage with senior management to effect change within the organization, including a monthly suggestion box, quarterly coffee chats with the CEO and staff brainstorming sessions.
Employees also enjoy great flexibility as to where and when they complete assigned projects, with 75 percent working exclusively from home. Team members also take advantage of “convenience time,” an innovative, award-winning program in which they can alter their standard work schedule for up to eight weeks with no impact on benefits in order to meet personal needs.
The Excelas leadership team’s focus on creating an engaged and flexible culture has resulted in a turnover rate of less than 5 percent each of the past seven years.
Fiorilli Construction Inc.’s pursuit of a desirable culture begins with one thing — attracting the right people for the right seats, says President Carmen Fiorilli. That’s why, when considering potential employees, management looks beyond qualifications to perform job-related tasks. It actively seeks individuals who embody the company’s core values, and a commitment to the ideals of its core focus on Delivering Construction Excellence (DCE) through “Building Synergistic Authentic Relationships.™”
Fiorilli Construction’s value around Building Synergistic Authentic Relationships™ emphasizes the importance of relationships and the idea of giving before receiving. This is a mutual commitment, with employees putting the greater good of the team ahead of self-interest, while in return, the company invests in each individual.
As such, and understanding that construction is a tough business that places many demands on team members’ time and attention, Fiorilli Construction provides employees with development and wellness programs, charitable activity initiatives, quarterly reviews and a flexible, remote-friendly work schedule to help alleviate pressure.
Management also incorporates convenience and fun into the workday, with perks that include a dry cleaning service coordinated directly from the office, bring your dog to work days, chair massages, potlucks, giveaways and games. Employees are encouraged to schedule time for monthly individual “clarity breaks,” as well, to review their plans or think strategically and refocus on their goals, ultimately helping the company to Deliver Construction Excellence.
Helmed by CEO Jeremy Flack, Flack Global Metals (FGM) fulfills supply chains for OEMs using flat rolled steel, aluminum and stainless. Flack leads the company in the disciplined pursuit of excellence, challenging his team’s abilities, expectations, biases and the status quo every day.
This culture of excellence is established through the clearly defined core values of Transparency, Validation, Affinity for Risk, Relentless Learning, Thoughtful Disagreement and Persistence/Resilience. FGM employees are encouraged to take risks and disagree. They are recognized for their efforts, but also called out for inaction. Failures happen and mistakes are made, but they are looked upon as a natural part of the process and opportunities for growth.
Ultimately, the success of a culture that embraces risk-taking and thoughtful disagreement to achieve innovation and success, is that communication around resulting conflict is focused on the issues. Management doesn’t make it personal, always assume positive intent with its team and steering in constructive directions.
Every employee collaborates directly with senior leadership through annual SPEAK! Meetings, an approach that guides them in understanding their work and communication styles, their strengths and weaknesses, to objectively evaluate performance and determine their best path forward.
FGM also facilitates open, teamwide communication across geographies through Avaya video meetings, the Slack app and a proprietary app called “MyFlack” that acts as a repository for important information, including feedback polls and company announcements.
Fast-growing Foundation Software, a family-owned national seller of software and payroll services based in Strongsville, employs just under 300 people and counting. While exciting, the challenge of rapid growth is that the corporate culture of family focus and community can be difficult to maintain.
That’s why Chairman and CEO Fred Ode has focused on consistent, scalable strategies to take care of his employees. He believes that making sure employees have the resources they need to live a happy and healthy life, both inside and outside of work, ensures that they, in turn, will take care of Foundation’s clients.
Rewards are vital to this vision. Ode hosts monthly and annual employee appreciation events — such as themed lunches, laser tag parties and chili cook-offs — and provides training opportunities. He also provides wellness-based initiatives, including on-site gym spaces, free personal training and fitness classes, prize-based corporate wellness challenges and 100 percent subsidized costs for offsite wellness programs, such as memberships to the local recreation center and Weight Watchers.
Additionally, Foundation regularly gives away hundreds of tickets to professional Cleveland sports games and outdoor concerts, giving employees the opportunity to interact with the Cleveland scene.
Ultimately, the unique community built within Foundation, combined with Ode’s passions for helping others develop their skills and rewarding their success, has created a place where employees want to go to work.
Mike Kahoe, president of Group Management Services (GMS), a professional employer organization and third-party administrator, credits the company’s positive culture as the main driver behind its growth and success. He’s build this positive environment through professional development strategies and employee reward programs designed to ensure that associates thrive.
Through GMS, employees can obtain support to further their education academically or through professional certifications, including a tuition reimbursement program. Management provides internal training, tools and resources, as well, including a proprietary sales training program that has helped promote consistency across company locations.
GMS celebrates its employees’ success in many ways, from organizing milestone anniversary events to awarding prizes in a quarterly, team-based brainstorm competition called GMS Duel. The company also provides incentive-based quarterly wellness initiatives and hosts lunches, holiday parties and an annual chili cook-off to bring team members together.
Since moving to a new headquarters space last year to accommodate his growing team, Kahoe has invested in an on-site gym, yoga studio, meditation room, locker room and lounge area for employees to get away from their desks and socialize. When they are at their desks, he’s outfitted the modern spaces with state-of-the-art technology and other resources for efficient collaboration.
By providing an environment where GFS employees can grow and thrive, Kahoe has, by extension, helped his business, and ultimately his clients, thrive.
Hyland is the developer of the enterprise content management and process management software suite called OnBase. Under the leadership of President and CEO Bill Priemer, the company has embraced a mission to help customers and partners — and its employees — exceed their potential. As such, it has created a culture that prioritizes a healthy work-life balance and ensures employees are treated like family.
To facilitate such a culture, Hyland invests in both personal and professional team member development. Partnering with their managers to strategically guide and plan their career path, associates have access to company-provided resources such as a robust Hyland Career Map tool, role-based learning plans, mentoring and diversity resource groups and programs. Hyland also provides for employees personally with onsite wellness, daycare, dining, salon and fitness services, and offers convenience and entertainment perks such as auto care, dry cleaning, event tickets and area discounts.
While such offerings help support and motivate employees on the front end, Hyland prioritizes employee rewards and recognition for a job well done, too. The company provides milestone recognition, “Player of the Week” shoutouts and prizes, profit-sharing opportunities and an annual Employee Appreciation Day, among other initiatives.
By providing an environment where team members like to come to work, Priemer and his team have created a supportive workplace that produces better results for Hyland employees and customers alike.
Incept’s culture is driven by a commitment to its core purpose — to build clients, partners and employees up into the best possible version of themselves. To achieve this, Sam Falletta — CEO of the multichannel contact center — has not only defined six guiding values for his staff, but also 33 behaviors that describe the daily practices that make this culture come to life.
First on this list is the foundational behavior of self-awareness. As such, Incept empowers its team members with skills and resources to better manage their personal and professional development, including extended training, peer-to-peer support groups, internal communication and productivity apps, a transparent employee intranet and bimonthly evaluations.
Incept also makes big bets on great people early by rewarding exceptional performance and talent with additional opportunities and perks, including an employee of the month initiative, gift card incentives for working extra hours and PTO rewards for perfect attendance.
Equipping employees to be successful and rewarding them when success is achieved is particularly critical for Incept, as its pay-for-performance pricing model is designed so the company is only compensated for delivering the desired results for its client. To accept this level of risk, Incept consistently focuses on recruiting, training and retaining the best employees.
As a leading specialty property and casualty insurance holding company, National Interstate Insurance offer more than 30 insurance products and employs an ever-growing staff to support them. Led by Tony Mercurio, president and CEO, company leadership has made investments over the past several years to support its staff in return.
Realizing the need for a third building on its Richfield Campus, Mercurio and his team designed a new structure. The newly completed headquarters dedicates nearly two floors to flexible, collaborative spaces ranging from spacious meeting rooms with state-of-the-art technology to smaller, more casual areas and common locations.
The building also features a fitness room with the latest in exercise equipment, a studio for yoga and other workouts, an activity room with foosball and ping-pong tables, shuffleboard, a bowling machine and board games, a mothers’ room for new moms returning to work, a café with gathering spaces and a coffee shop serving Starbucks® products. Additionally, two enclosed pedestrian walkways were added to the campus to link all three National Interstate buildings, allowing employees to travel between buildings without going outside.
Valuing transparent communication at all levels of the organization, National Interstate management keeps employees informed on company news, initiatives and employee achievements through its magazine, Extra Mile, expanding social media campaigns and by Mercurio attending monthly all-employee breakfast meetings.
Rock The House is known in the live events industry for its innovative production elements, the latest entertainment options and a range of equipment and services. The entertainment group is dedicated to providing meaningful experiences between people. Externally, that means partnering with clients to bring their event vision to life; internally, it’s all about teamwork and passion to achieve something extraordinary together.
To achieve this, RTH Founder and CEO Matt Radicelli has built a culture around “ROCKstar” employees who embody leadership, innovation, positivity and accountability, among other core values. These values are consistently reinforced through open communication, advanced training and achievement-based incentives.
Associates communicate with supervisors directly through regularly scheduled meetings to voice feedback, build and maintain meaningful connections, and grow personally and professionally. They also engage in ongoing advanced training throughout the year, as well as team building and education sessions at the company’s annual All-Staff Meeting.
Employees are also recognized and rewarded for their successes. RTH not only provides staff with excellent benefits and opportunities for growth and support, it hosts a variety of fun appreciation events to alleviate stress, ranging from yoga classes and taco nights to movie days and impromptu cookouts.
By building a core team of ROCKstars who are invested, present and empowered on a daily basis, RTH has created a culture of excellence where employees are excited to do their jobs.
Co-owned by Brian Krusz, Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash aims to be the most preferred and referred car wash in the Cleveland area. Yet as the company quickly grows toward this goal, management has developed a secondary, internal aim: To promote its team from within.
To achieve this, leadership approaches hiring interviews with the goal of talking applicants out of working for the company. Providing a holistic understanding of what will be asked of candidates, including the nonglamorous parts of their jobs, the approach may result in a slightly lower hire rate. But it also results in a significantly higher retention rate, and higher-quality hires.
Because all team members are vetted for the potential to take on more responsibility in the future, Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash is easily able to meet its goal of promoting from within. Management grooms these associates by financing advanced leadership courses through Skills Path, hosting a mentor program and new “Leader in Training” program, and holding ongoing monthly summits for both the sales team and site leaders.
Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash also incentivizes associates with above-average compensation, including some salaried positions and benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. It also offers opportunities for monthly performance-based bonuses. With engaged team members who have skin in the game, the company continues to grow in revenue and expand into new markets.
The O’Neill Group, an insurance and risk management services provider, has built a successful foundation upon the intentionality of its workplace culture. Recognizing that culture has an enormous impact on the performance of the company’s staff, President and CEO Patrick O’Neill has led the development and implementation of a strategic culture plan referred to as The O’Neill Way.
This plan is composed of 30 fundamental behaviors, operating on an eight-step framework. It serves as a roadmap to guide team members in defining and ritualizing these behaviors, hiring and retaining cultural fits, coaching and teaching on the fundamentals, leading by example and, most important, being accountable to what The O’Neill Group is, what it does and why.
New hires are selected because they fit The O’Neill Way. It’s taught through initial training, quarterly meetings with leadership through their first year and annual performance reviews. The plan is also reinforced through ongoing internal and external communications including weekly emails focusing on a fundamental, discussions of the weekly fundamental at the start of the week in both internal and external meetings, fundamental flip charts serving as visual reminders at each desk and Way Cards that can be taken as reminders to client, prospect and carrier meetings.
By prioritizing a cultural fit over and above traditional qualifications, The O’Neill Group has seen positive trends in employee hiring, retention and performance.
High-performance blender company Vitamix has grown significantly over the past 98 years. As a result, President and CEO Jodi Berg recently undertook a mission to redefine and recommit to the family-owned business’s roots. She engaged employees at all levels to determine why they loved working for Vitamix, and what they wouldn’t want to see the organization lose as it grows.
The result is the Vitamix CORE, encompassing its mission, purpose, values, corporate edge, guiding principles and business objectives. The central values that emerged are family, customer quality, integrity and teamwork, supported by dedicated leadership, openness to change and a commitment to personal growth. The CORE also includes Vitamix’s purpose of liberating and nourishing a zest for life, and its mission, to create relationships for life by designing, developing and producing the world’s best-performing and most reliable blending solutions, both of which are focused on people, not sales.
Providing a roadmap for leadership and employees alike, this CORE is discussed with potential candidates to ensure consistent alignment with Vitamix’s culture as the company continues to grow. It is then communicated through the onboarding process and reinforced with pocket-sized CORE cards, ongoing trainings and mentorship, and annual performance reviews.
Recently, Vitamix also implemented “CORE Ambassadors,” an interdepartmental group that meets monthly to find ways to drive home this vision with employees through announcements, special recognition and rewards programs and volunteer opportunities.