Congratulations to HCSS, the winner of the 2015 TINYpulse Happiest Company Award for the Construction & Facilities Services industry. From its founding, HCSS has been a people-first company, so we knew it would be great to talk to them about employee engagement.
Chris Henry, Vice President of Services and Executive Sponsor for TINYpulse, and Admir Hadziabulic, Technical Services Supervisor and TINYpulse Administrator, talked to us about how they keep their employees happy.
Q: Tell us a little bit about what your company does and why employee engagement is so important to you.
A: We are a software developer for the heavy construction industry. Our main customer base consists of infrastructure, heavy/highway, and utility contractors. Our customers build roads, bridges, dams, airports, and other structures that keep society running.
Employee engagement is important to us because we are an ESOP company that promotes an ownership mentality for all employees. We take immense pride in providing a great work environment, and we believe that employees are most productive if they are happy where they work. “If you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life.”
Employee engagement is important to us because it’s how we started. HCSS was founded because Mike and Sophie Rydin were not satisfied with their work environment. So they built HCSS based on the best environments they could find and removed things they didn’t like about previous employers to create an employee-centric workplace. One of our core Vision Statements is to be a great place to work, like Google or M.D. Anderson. Those companies are the basis for many of our ideas and programs.
Q: Tell us about some of the great things you do in your workplace that keep employees engaged and energized.
A: HCSS prides ourselves in having a happy, healthy workforce, and we have implemented things like monthly/quarterly social events, onboarding happy hours, game or movie nights, sporting event watching parties, cookouts, and more. HCSS also has an Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP) and cash profit-sharing program along with open-book financials. We have a strong commitment to employee wellness that is bolstered by onsite fitness facilities and classes, and healthy lunch and snack options.
But we still wanted to know how our employees were feeling. We first launched TINYpulse in the Services department, which was about 40% of our total employee roster. By about the third survey, they started taking the surveys seriously, mainly because they were receiving feedback on their suggestions and they also saw changes around their work environment that were initiated by TINYpulse.
We always had a good recognition program at HCSS, but Cheers for Peers opened up a completely new avenue to peer recognition. This really allowed them to show their appreciation for their coworkers’ hard work, and it wasn’t too long until it spread like wildfire through the department, to the point where other departments started asking about it.
It was due to the lessons learned in Services that we were able to successfully implement TINYpulse throughout the whole organization. We have a representative from each department present in our weekly meeting where we discuss items that need to be addressed from TINYpulse, as well as coordinating a consistent cascading message that would inform the entire company about things learned and our action items.
Q: What tactics do you leverage as a manager to keep your team energized and motivated?
A: We look at our environment and think about what things you would do at home with your family and try to apply them at the workplace. That’s why we have cookouts on the BBQ pits in our courtyard, play games like charades or Minute-To-Win-It, or even enjoy an impromptu department lunch or breakfast. We also promote a healthy work environment, so wellness challenges play a big role in our culture. We have pedometer or strength/team sports challenges where people from across all departments form a team to promote a stronger bond between the departments. And we try to promote company activities outside of the workplace to create a fun, happy, and ultimately more productive work environment.
Q: What methods do you use to promote an honest, transparent work environment?
A: The single most important meeting at HCSS is the Friday lunch meeting. This is where everything is presented/discussed, such as company benefits, department initiatives, product strategy plans and — most importantly — our finances. Since we are an ESOP company, all employees have a stake in how the company performs. We provide a monthly financial summary where you can see updated information on our current performance.
Over the past year we have implemented EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) where meetings are used to have honest discussions and an opportunity to solve problems with the help of a group, rather than individual decision making. Each meeting also has a cascading message where the rest of the department is notified about any action items that may affect them.
Q: When you think back to your time climbing up the job ranks, what got you really motivated to go the extra mile?
A (Chris Henry): It started with the understanding that there are simply no boundaries at HCSS. We're a flat organization with an open-door policy, where each employee has easy access to all executives. To this day, the CEO still reads every employee review (and now also TINYpulse surveys) and truly cares about how we are doing. The tools to advancement, I realized, is just good old-fashioned hard work, dedication, and passion.
I was passionate about HCSS — I fell in love with this place and was willing to do anything to take good care of the company. In return for this dedication, the company has taken great care of me. I love how we're given the latitude to try new things without the fear of failure, but also encouraged to learn from our mistakes. As a company with an open-book financial policy, we're taught to avoid wasteful spending and to think about how much it costs to earn a dollar, yet also be generous to good local causes.
But what really drove me to put in the extra hard work is the people here at HCSS. We have a very diverse work group of interesting, intelligent people who are genuine and sincere in their interactions with each other. The company has fostered this type of camaraderie among its employees, and these employees have in turn motivated me to go the extra mile every day.
Thanks to Chris, Admir, and HCSS for sharing their story!
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