Patrick Hiller: How to get ROI by creating a great place to work

Patrick Hiller

Patrick Hiller, CEO, Abacus Solutions

For the second year in a row, Abacus Solutions has won a workplace award, and I’d like to tell you that it was the result of a very detailed plan — but it wasn’t. It started with a simple premise of respect and teamwork. Along the way, we learned specific behaviors that attract and keep talent.

Our efforts to create a great place to work have been paid back many times over in employee and client loyalty, as well as in profits. Here are specific ways your efforts to improve workplace culture bring a return on your investment.

General productivity

When employees feel respected and enjoy coming to work, productivity rises. If you foster a culture of teamwork, then people are less likely to be worrying about competitive advantage over each other and more likely to be focused on advantage over competitors.

This directly impacts the bottom line because you are not adding more people to the payroll to drive business. Teamwork gets the job done with less personnel and better results.

Better ideas

Creating a safe space where employees are free to try out new ideas and then get honest and respectful feedback about them means you are getting the best out of your in-house brain trust.

Discouragement and a dismissive attitude breed passivity. Respect and encouragement breed innovation. With a global marketplace competing for business, you want to be the company with the best ideas.

Retention and new talent

We’ve all worked jobs in our career where we had to deal with a nasty manager or co-worker. Employees know that when they find a supportive place to work it elevates their everyday lifestyle.

We have very little turnover at our company and rarely lose a team member to competitors. Part of this is being very selective of whom we bring onboard.

Retention is also about paying people what they are worth. We look at the going rate for positions and reward talent and extra effort financially. And, when you have a great workplace culture, it also makes it easier to attract the best talent for new positions. Word gets around.

Client interaction

So now we get to the client-facing side of where workplace culture meets bottom line. At Abacus Solutions, we help customers leverage IT to solve business problems with managed solutions and infrastructure improvements. This is where our high employee retention rate is such a bonus. Clients genuinely fear having to deal with a changing roster of support.

High retention lets us give them what they want — a stable resource that knows their business inside and out. In-house retention translates into client retention.

Here is another way workplace culture helps us meet client needs: personal initiative. By empowering employees to make decisions and paying them well for their work, clients get the best of our team without multiple layers of accountability.

Every week we get an email from a client about someone on our engineering team who went the extra mile to solve an issue.

Strategic planning

As CEOs, we are responsible for looking at the big picture and making sure the company continues to grow and evolve in the right direction. It’s hard to do that if we are intimately involved in every detail.

I can tell you that it feels great to know that I am not needed on a daily basis. I can focus on adding clients and growing partnerships. The proof for us that this kind of workplace culture brings meaningful ROI is the growth in revenue and profitability we’ve enjoyed every year we have been in operation.

Patrick Hiller is the CEO of Abacus Solutions, an IT solutions provider in Atlanta, Ga., specializing in vendor neutral solutions that help companies manage IT to protect and grow core business. Contact him at