These days, skilled job candidates put just as much thought and effort into scrutinizing potential employers as companies do screening applicants. The best candidates—those who consistently perform at a high level and who will stay longer—seek companies with a reputation that they can respect and whose values match their own.
Organizations like FCCI Insurance Group understand that desire and strive to create a culture that meets the higher expectations of their employees and potential employees. Last fall, the company was recognized by Business Insurance magazine with its 2017 Best Places to Work in Insurance list. FCCI ranked second among the nation’s insurance companies in the Medium Employer Category (companies with 250-999 employees). The recognition was the most recent in a long string of workplace honors, including nine consecutive years on the Top 100 Best Companies List and being named one of the Top 10 Most Generous Workplaces by United Way.
Making it onto a best workplace list is a great source of pride for companies since the lists are typically ranked on the basis of confidential employee surveys. For FCCI leadership, “it reinforces what we have always known—that doing the right thing and putting people first is good business,” says Lisa Krouse, Board Member, EVP, Chief HR and Corporate Communications Officer.
So what does it take to be best-in-class in the eyes of your employees? Not surprisingly, having a strong people-oriented culture is a common denominator among the most admired companies. I recently had a chance to speak with Krouse about some of the practices that make FCCI a great place to work.
A Collaborative Environment
Today’s employees have strong views on work processes, goals and how they can contribute to the organization’s mission. FCCI leaders nurture an environment in which employee feedback is continuously sought out and acted upon. “We recognize that we can always improve and we’re willing to listen,” Krouse says. “For us, open communication starts at the top with our president, senior leadership team and officers who recognize that, if the leadership is not modeling the behavior, then the rest of the organization can’t take what we’re asking them to do seriously.”
FCCI’s transparent communication approach ensures that employees are kept apprised of the company’s performance, and that they have multiple opportunities to participate in conversations on the strategic direction and decision-making, including:
ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH THE PRESIDENT. Every new employee has a one-on-one session with FCCI President and CEO Craig Johnson. These conversations provide an opportunity to discuss the new employee’s role, FCCI’s vision for the future, the culture and what will make the individual successful.
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT SURVEYS. FCCI’s employee engagement surveys are part of a continuous process that runs on a two-year cycle. It starts with an all-employee engagement survey to collect feedback. Employee participation is high with a 93% response rate. The survey feedback is thoroughly analyzed, after which the company holds employee focus groups to gather deeper insights into their views and attitudes. Action plans are then developed and improvements or process changes are implemented in the following year. “We take the process very seriously,” Krouse says. “Our leaders’ performance is measured by how well they accept employee feedback and whether they have action plans in place to follow up on the survey.”
COFFEE WITH CRAIG. Johnson conducts four to five skip-level style meetings per year called “Coffee with Craig,” Krouse notes. These meetings “provide teammates an opportunity to gain insight on what is happening in the company and ask questions of upper-level management.”
BIANNUAL TOWN HALL MEETINGS. The president also hosts town hall meetings twice a year in each location to discuss FCCI’s business results. It’s an open forum in which employees can ask questions and engage in conversation with senior leaders.
INTRANET FORUM. At any time, employees can offer feedback and ask questions on an intranet forum called “Ask Craig.” “People can weigh in and ask anonymous questions, and we respond to them in a way that is transparent so everyone can see the answers,” Krouse says.
In addition, a monthly companywide memo from the president shares the company’s current business results. “We want all of our teammates to understand what drives success because they all share in the profitability at the end of the year. Everyone has a financial stake in the success of the company,” she says.
A Personalized Approach to Engagement
Engagement tends to be high in companies that support a people-first culture. It calls for a leadership commitment that goes beyond collecting feedback and developing action plans. Employees want to feel that their supervisors, managers and company leaders value them as individuals, and care about their growth, lives and interests outside of the workplace.
Finding meaningful ways to reward employees for their work can be challenging in an organization with a diverse workforce, and FCCI’s reward program includes a wide variety of benefits and perks that contribute to the individual’s growth and development, health and wellness, work-life balance, recognition and compensation needs. For instance, the company offers work-life balance perks like flexible work schedules, subsidized gym memberships, courses on topics like dealing with aging parents and health and wellness, discounts for theme parks, movies and sporting events, among others.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to engagement,” says Krouse. “We are all individuals and we’re all working at different times in our lives. We have individuals who are striving to advance their careers, and they’re highly focused on development. We have others who are very happy in their current role, but they’re balancing children and life or perhaps caring for aging parents. We try to have a diverse perspective of what our teammates might enjoy.”
A Culture of Caring
Research by Deloitte has found that most workers want their employers to have a strong sense of purpose that goes beyond profits. They want to be part of an organization that contributes to the community in which they live and the larger society. At FCCI, giving back is ingrained in the culture and is even built into the selection process.
“Having the best people in the business is important, so we look for the skills, experience, knowledge and talent that will allow individuals to perform their jobs. But the other component of the what part of the job is the how part of it,” explains Krouse. “Are we hiring kind, compassionate, decent human beings who will embrace our culture of charitable giving?”
Each location maintains a strong local presence through the relationships employees build with charitable organizations. Every employee has four hours of volunteer time that they can donate to a charity of their choosing. “We don’t care what that organization is as long as we’re making a difference in the communities in which we live, work and serve,” she says.
For instance, the staff at the Sarasota headquarters have built four homes for families in need of affordable housing through FCCI’s corporate partnership with Habitat for Humanity. In addition to providing financial support and volunteer time, FCCI officers established a fund to collect donations for furnishing the homes. “When it’s time for our teammates and leadership team to hand over the keys to the house, the homeowner and his or her family will also be gifted with the ability to furnish the home,” Krouse says. “We have a direct relationship with the homeowners of the homes that we’re building. They get to know our teammates and that is really special.”
FCCI’s culture of caring also applies to the day-to-day work environment and dealings with colleagues. “We conduct behavioral interviews to ensure that each candidate is a good match for our culture—that people will care for each other and will lift people up when they fall down. It’s very important to us to identify individuals who, at their core, will live the values of FCCI—loyalty, integrity, vision, excellence and service. It’s a highly ethical environment where we expect people to speak up if they feel something is wrong,” Krouse explains.
“We don’t sell a widget,” she adds. “What we’re selling is our values and culture represented by the behavior of our teammates. We call it the promise. If you experience a loss under your insurance policy, we’ll be there for you. You will be provided with exceptional customer service consistent with our mission. Our teammates represent the culture of FCCI.”