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Roundtable Recap: Leadership Perspective on Best Places to Work

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Author: Elle Carroll

Panelists: Jeff Elkin, Advance Business Systems; Charity Brown, Samuel Shapiro & Company and Erin Naylor, Direct Mortgage Loans

Our February 6th Roundtable featured a panel of three speakers, each representing their Best Places to Work organization. We quickly dove into conversation around what attributes make a company a “Best Place to Work”, and what it takes from an HR and Executive Leadership perspective to prioritize culture. Our panelists each shared their insight, experience and challenges on helping to cultivate a culture that is truly reflective of a Best Places to Work organization, and had commonalities in three key areas:

1. Investing in Your Employees / "Date Your Spouse" Mentality

Erin Naylor from Direct Mortgage Loans spoke in depth about the importance of really investing in your employees. They use the “always date your spouse” mentality within their workplace to really display the importance they place on getting to know your coworkers and employees. Today’s Best Places to Work environments are about encouraging a work-life balance and even taking it a step further and showing your personal investment in your employees. Fostering conversation about themselves, their lives and goals will help develop a sense of camaraderie, ultimately leading to a mutually trusting relationship. The three panelists also each touched on the benefits of surveying your employees and really giving them the opportunity to provide feedback. This is a great way to objectively hear the opinions of your employees and will simultaneously help take the emotional pulse of your workforce. It gives your employees a chance to be heard, trusted and validated.

2. Prioritizing Culture Within the Workplace

Another key area of development from our panel was the importance of prioritizing your culture and the individuals who are making up your team. President of Advance Business Systems, Jeff Elkin, spoke on the challenge of making sure you are hiring the right people – it can be easy to be drawn to individuals, but the importance must be placed on making sure they are the right fit for your culture. Hiring the wrong people can be costly and dangerous. Jeff also went into detail about Advance having very successful experiences from promoting internally. They created something called the Management Council, where they will appoint promising managerial candidates and introduce them to the types of meetings and discussions that take place from all disciplines in the organization. There is no commitment, simply an opportunity for aspiring managers to get together and not only gain valuable insight into topics such as mindset, organizational health, and problem solving, but also grow together as a team. This type of development is crucial to retaining your employees, and showing them that with trust and action, there are opportunities for future growth at your organization.

3. Engagement of Employees, Specifically the Remote Workforce

Lastly, the panelists collectively talked in agreement about placing significance on engaging your workforce, but specifically making sure your remote workforce is feeling the same levels of engagement and inclusion. Charity Brown from Samuel Shapiro & Company explained that they have an off-site retreat specifically for all teams to get to know the individuals they may be working with on a frequent basis. Erin Naylor continued with this and highlighted the importance of leadership members visiting their remote workers face to face. This demonstrates not only are they willing to put in the time and effort to prioritize workers that might not be geographically convenient, but ties back to the importance of really investing your time in the people that are working for you. Another small, but impactful tip is making sure your remote employees comp their lunch when there is a company  lunch event at the office. We often forget that those working remotely miss out on the day to day perks that take place in the office.

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