The following are profiles of Families and Work Institute’s 2013 Effective and Flexible Workplace Awards winners in North Carolina.
These profiles are excerpted from the 2014 Guide to Bold New Ideas for Making Work Work. Copies of this publication are available for purchase online. Applications are currently open for the 2014 awards, also known as the Sloan Awards for Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility. Please visit the award page for more information.
Click here to return to the full list winners in other states.
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
Winning Site: Durham, NC – 500 Employees
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) shows steadfast commitment to creating supportive work strategies, even in departments and roles that present challenges to flexible work arrangements. In order to provide employees who work in the company’s service center (i.e., the call center) the opportunity to participate in company activities, employees in other departments are cross-trained to help take incoming calls. Breaks are scheduled dynamically so that employees can adjust their schedules to participate in various groups and activities. E-mail specialists are able to work from home, as their jobs are done mainly online. Phone team members have been equipped with laptops so they can answer incoming calls remotely. Flextime, compressed workweeks and part-time hours are also available. Other benefits include paid volunteer time, gym membership fee reimbursement, internal and external training, Weight Watchers and more. Many employees are given smartphones, and all employees are given laptops and virtual private network (VPN) access. Management has found that taking a holistic approach has been critical to retaining and attracting talent in an industry where competition for top talent is fierce.
BDO USA, LLP
CPAs, Consultants and Advisors
Winning Sites: Charlotte, NC – 77 Employees, Raleigh, NC – 85 Employees
BDO USA, LLP, a business services firm, takes a holistic approach when it comes to creating a supportive work environment where both employee and company needs can thrive. Employees are encouraged to find an individualized flexibility solution that works for them, while pursuing business needs. Flexibility helps employees’ productivity and enables the firm to compete efficiently in a global market. For example, telecommuting has enabled the company to grow quickly in new markets and saved the firm more than $500,000 since 2005. Technologies like web-conferencing and tools used to schedule and assign client work enable greater flexibility. BDO leadership has taken steps to increase access to flexibility for administrative employees, many of whom must be at the office to do their jobs. Those steps include supervisor support of administrative staff when it comes to arranging flexible hours and workflex webinars; and the firm recently held a focus group with administrators at all levels to better align these workflex initiatives. Several programs at BDO help young employees feel more connected to the company and their colleagues, including career development, mentoring and networking. Veterans who are undergoing medical treatment or therapy for an injury incurred during their service are eligible for up to 26 of unpaid leave. BDO also offers a backup care program providing employees with 10 days of child or elder care each year, either in a center or at home. During the busy season, toolkits provide employees with ideas for reducing stress, like converting unused space into a relaxation area or a more casual dress code.
Web Development Services
Winning Site: Durham, NC – 10 Employees
At software development company DesignHammer, younger employees are provided mentoring in order to encourage professional development, and leaders emphasize the importance of not over-working employees. Given the nature of the firm’s business, flexible work options have always been offered to employees; and, a few years ago, leaders began using web-based project management tools to provide more collaboration given the variety in the staff members’ schedules and locations. All employees—from the company owners to the part-time new hires—use flexibility to better manage their work and family responsibilities. Leaders believe their flexible workplace practices have influenced employees’ high productivity, engagement, retention and job satisfaction. This enables DesignHammer to recruit and retain valuable employees in a competitive job market.
Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau
Destination Marketing Organization
Winning Site: Durham, NC – 20 Employees
Employees at North Carolina’s Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau have access to a “creativity room” which provides a quiet space to relax, make personal calls or mediate—whatever they choose. Employees are encouraged to work from home when completing a tedious or complicated project or when they need to care for a sick family member. Positions such as administrative assistants where the employees need to be in the office to do their jobs, are given other options to help with work-life issues, including coming in late, leaving early or a few hours during the day, without needing to take paid time off (PTO) given that the work is made up. Temporary employees are hired to enable all employees to be able to attend all-staff events. Generous benefits include frequent paid trainings and 100% covered health and dental insurance. Employees are provided with subsidized Internet access and smartphones, and all staff members receive ongoing monthly training, as well as staff retreats. All of these programs are considered recruiting tools and have the added bonus of keeping morale and productivity high.
General Motors Financial Company, Inc. (GM Financial)
Auto Loan Financing
Winning Site: Huntersville, NC – 281 Employees
Leaders at General Motors Financial Company, Inc. (GM Financial), providers of auto loan financing, have taken steps to move away from the “traditional” view of call centers by giving employees job and scheduling autonomy and creating a culture of coaching and training. Employee stress has decreased as a flexible arrival time policy has done away with the strain of trying to beat morning commuter traffic. As long as employees complete their eight-hour shift, they can arrive to work as much as three hours after their scheduled arrival time. As a result, tardiness has decreased 90%. Reduced hours and compressed workweeks are available during the summer. Leaders at GM Financial are actively working to train high potential team members to become future leaders as a way to promote from within the organization. Leaders are also implementing a program on financial literacy for team members. According to a recent survey, employee engagement at GM Financial is 89%. The attrition rate is incredibly low for the call center industry—just 6.24%—and average tenure in the front line team is seven years.
Hill, Chesson & Woody (HCW)
Winning Site: Durham, NC – 52 Employees
Leaders at Hill, Chesson & Woody (HCW) have created a supportive and equitable workplace by implementing options beyond just telecommuting for employees in a variety of different jobs. Administrative positions at this employee benefit management company are not eligible for flexibility. Nevertheless, these employees can take advantage of coming in later for appointments, leaving early or leaving for a few hours during the day without needing to take paid time off (PTO) as long as the work is made up later. Other employees are able to take advantage of more flexible schedules and work from home. Summer hours from May through September enable employees to leave at noon every other Friday. Cloud-based computing provides greater flexibility for employees in where and when they work, as documents and programs can be accessed remotely. Long-term care benefits are available to all employees at no cost as is a health advocacy service for employees and their immediate families who have elder care responsibilities. Leaders at the firm believe that flexibility isn’t a benefit: it’s a talent acquisition, talent management and talent retention strategy that provides the best possible outcomes for employees and clients!
CPAs, Consultants and Advisors
Winning Site: Charlotte, NC – 560 Employees
Employees at professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers utilize many programs to create a more efficient and flexible workplace, including everything from cross training to rewards for those who bolster flexibility. A national flexibility contest encourages work teams to plan for flexibility, including rewarding those who embrace the plan. In addition, employees are able to take advantage of formal flexibility plans, alternative career paths and contingent workforce opportunities. Firm leaders promote flexibility even in jobs that don’t generally lend themselves to flexibility, such as receptionist positions. Cross training ensures that there is always someone who can cover a position so that flexibility can be extended to all employees. Among the top reasons for increasing flexibility include increased productivity and engagement, increased job satisfaction and retention, and the ability to attract top talent. It is also about quality and client service, as employees end up providing a better product. PricewaterhouseCoopers Charlotte employees have scored above the national average for engagement since 2010. Leaders believe their ability to be flexible and enable their talent to incorporate flexibility has served the company well in attracting exceptional talent even through recent economic challenges.
Clinical Research Organization
Winning Site: Chapel Hill, NC – 318 Employees
Leaders at Rho, a contract research organization, pride themselves on having created a people-centered culture that makes room for the demands of both work and life. Virtual private network (VPN) tokens, iPads and company-issued laptops make it possible for employees to work remotely. Videoconferencing and teleconferencing enable employees to work remotely and be able to join meetings and feel part of the group. Workload rebalancing and good communication have kept overwork from becoming a problem. Rho’s leadership is proud of their family-friendly, collaborative corporate culture that provides opportunities for growth among employees. Some of the family-friendly benefits offered at Rho include paid parental leave, paid time off (PTO) for adoption, phase-back work hours and onsite private lactation facilities for new moms. Rho’s CEO reports the organization’s leadership is committed to creating a flexible workplace through a combination of traditional programs like telecommuting and flexible hours and innovative programs like a concierge service for employees.
Senn Dunn Insurance
Winning Site: Greensboro, NC – 80 Employees
Senn Dunn Insurance leaders don’t want employees to feel they have to choose between doing good work and caring for their families. Employees of Senn Dunn do not need to use paid time off (PTO) to take short amounts of time to attend doctor appointments during the day. Furthermore, there is no limit to the number of sick days an employee can take. Leaders report that the number one reason they promote flexibility is to create more engaged employees. Happy employees are willing to go above and beyond for the company. An employee assistance plan, healthy food in meetings, biometric screening and discounts at fitness centers all help keep employees feel their best. Virtual distributed computing networks enable employees to work more flexibly as they can access their work from anywhere. Currently, leaders are working on implementing together a formal remote work policy.
SunGard Public Sector
Computer Software & Services
Winning Site: High Point, NC – 173 Employees
Leaders at SunGard Public Sector, a software company, empower employees to do their work in a way that works best for their employees. Last year, management implemented a system that offered all application support staff members 10 days per year during which they could work remotely. Enabling support staff to work flexibly presented challenges due to the nature of their work. Nevertheless, it has paid dividends, as employees are happy to have flexibility and are using less unscheduled paid time off (PTO). Technology plays an important part: for example, installing phone software on employees’ laptops made it possible for them to take and make calls while working remotely. Employees who work remotely report increased productivity, and leaders report that they’ve been able to retain individuals who relocated for personal reasons. Web conferencing, desktop sharing, video and voice calling, a virtual network, application sharing and white boarding for remote employees make telecommuting practical. Additionally, the company holds wellness fairs in offices across the Company which feature such services as onsite flu shots, massages and acupuncture, wellness seminars and mammogram and screening services. Remote and traveling employees are encouraged to attend a wellness fair that fits into their travel schedule or remote location. Leadership has empowered managers to consider each employee issue on a case-by-case basis and to provide creative solutions to managing ever-increasing demands of work and home.
Tar Heel Basement Systems
Basement Waterproofing and Foundation Repair
Winning Site: Boone, NC – 30 Employees
At basement, foundation and crawl space specialists Tar Heel Basement Systems, children can come to work with their parents during school cancellations or when child care isn’t available, and some employees are able to work remotely. A business management tool enables employees to access their schedules online and request time off in addition to other tools like marketing analysis and sales reports. Although some employees work from home, meetings and events throughout the year help keep everyone feeling unified. Leaders are proud to report that all employees work together as a team to accomplish goals. They believe that unity strengthens purpose, enabling them to accomplish even more. The company’s owner is a veteran who understands the difficulties of transitioning between military service and civilian life, and he has made it a priority to hire veterans and assist them in the transition to civilian work. Leaders report that workplace flexibility has helped attract and retain excellent employees and sales are up nearly 60% since 2012.