The following are profiles of Families and Work Institute’s 2013 Effective and Flexible Workplace Awards winners in Texas.
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.
Access Sciences Corporation
Winning Site: Houston, TX – 85 Employees
At Access Sciences Corporation, data drive leaders’ commitment to cutting-edge work arrangements at this information management, technology consulting and outsourcing firm, includes offering reduced schedules and smaller workloads to employees depending on their needs. Leaders have seen a decrease in absenteeism and turnover as a result of implementing a number of programs designed to promote flexibility. Turnover in 2011 was 16.3% compared to an average turnover rate of approximately 18% for the consulting industry. In 2012, the firm’s turnover rate was down to 13.56%. Leaders have implemented a reduced work program that enables older employees to ease into retirement. Different from typical consulting firms, leaders at the firm do not encourage an “up or out” career track mentality. This framework has given employees the security of knowing that they can sometimes take a slower approach to work should they need to focus on family or other important life events. A variety of wellness programs—including a holiday maintain-your-weight challenge with prizes and a “wellness room” with reclining chairs for employees to take a break and unwind—have been implemented. Leaders believe this has helped reduce health care costs. Leaders have also found that increasing flexibility has had a positive impact on employee morale, productivity and, ultimately, commitment to the company as evidenced by the reduction of turnover in 2012 to about 13% compared to roughly 16% in the previous year. This has made for a higher quality of work provided to the firm’s clients, resulted in increasingly satisfied clients and, thus, generated more business for the company.
BDO USA, LLP
CPAs, Consultants and Advisors
3,219 Employees in the U.S. – 21 Employees in Austin, TX; 158 Employees in Dallas; 105 Employees in Houston; 54 Employees in San Antonio
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.
Binkley & Barfield, Inc.
Winning Site: Houston, TX – 75 Employees
Leaders at Binkley & Barfield, Inc., a civil engineering consulting firm, see employees as one of their more valuable resources, and, to that end, efforts to create a great work environment are as wide ranging as providing tools to assist disabled employees to ensuring office lighting offers optimal comfort for employees. Firm leaders provide current staff with disabilities with assistive technology (including computer add-ons) and equipment to help them with continued success. The firm employs veterans from all branches of the military, recruiting from military engineering societies throughout Texas. And all employees are able to work from home thanks to portable computers and additional software that provide easier network access. Binkley & Barfield leaders offer paid internships for students enrolled in engineering programs which lead to full-time employment with the firm. Clearly, employees of the firm are happy: the staff team is comprised of over 40% with a five-year tenure, 26% with over 10 years, 17% with over 20 years and eight individuals with over 30 years at the firm.
Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau
Winning Site: Dallas, TX – 62 Employees
Leaders at the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau realize that establishing a supportive workplace isn’t just about enabling employees to work from home. Case in point: many of the Bureau’s administrative staff members are unable to telecommute because of the nature of their job, so the organization pays them an extra $100 a month instead. Leaders also encourage employees to use paid time off (PTO) to get a break away from the office and the pressures of day-to-day work. Many employees, including supervisors, are able to work from home one day each week. And leaders report that this lowers stress levels and employees are more productive when working from home. All employees are offered a health club membership and seminars—including ones on handling stress—are offered to boost wellness.
Fronterra Integrated Geosciences
Geoscience and Engineering Services
Winning Site: Houston, TX – 14 Employees
Many employees at Fronterra Integrated Geosciences, a consulting firm, can take advantage of compressed workweeks, flexible scheduling, robust medical coverage benefits and generous paid time off (PTO). Leaders at Fronterra are able to work from home when possible, although business needs often preclude them from participating in other forms of flexibility. The same is true of the company’s receptionist who can request to flex her hours when needed. However, employees who spend weekends, nights or vacation days working on big projects can take compensation days. Findings from a recent employee satisfaction survey found that 100% of employees responded positively to statements like “management cares about individuals” and “I’m motivated to perform well.” Fronterra’s leaders have created a culture where employees can focus on and enjoy their job while at work without having to worry about what’s going on at home.
Winning Site: Houston, TX – 80 Employees
Klotz Associates employees whose work schedules don’t easily lend themselves to flexibility have backup personnel available within the company to enable them to take breaks, take care of personal issues or manage sudden changes to their normal routines. Managers at this engineering consulting firm have enabled employees to work offsite as needed, although the nature of much of Klotz Associates’ work requires time in the office because face-to-face interaction is needed to review and discuss large drawings and schematics. In order to manage issues related to overwork, leaders are required to limit overtime to two weeks with a minimum of one week of regular time before employees can accrue additional overtime. Management encourages employees to discuss overwork issues with supervisors; and those supervisors are then required to provide alternative means to meet work goals. All of these initiatives have resulted in happier, more productive employees.
CPAs, Consultants and Advisors
22,793 Employees in the U.S. – 774 Employees in Houston
Leaders at KPMG, an audit, tax and advisory services firms, realize an effective and flexible workplace is more than providing a flexible work option. It is really about employee empowerment and taking the needs of employees into account no matter where they are in their careers. Employees are empowered to job-share, work a part-time schedule, vary their hours or take a sabbatical or leave of absence. From time to time, retired partners may be called upon to provide guidance on particular projects. New employees are assigned to an onboarding associate to help them acclimate to the firm. In 2012, KPMG launched a national Veterans’ Network. This network is committed to embracing diversity and fostering an environment of inclusion that encourages the recruitment, retention and success of veterans and military service members (and their families) within KPMG. Disability awareness training in KPMG’s major offices enables employees to learn to communicate in a productive and polite manner with employees who are disabled. The Abilities in Motion Network, with 12 local chapters, serves to provide opportunities for disabled employees and to facilitate dialogue between disabled employees and KPMG leaders. Virtual meeting technology like teleconferencing, webcasting and online meeting services have saved money and improved work-life fit by reducing travel. People Management Leaders counsel employees in career development, performance and improving work-life fit. Wellness programs benefit employees through online resources and in-person programs such as National Wellness Challenge, which encourages employees to try new healthy activities.
Winning Site: Dallas, TX – 208 Employees
At MHBT Inc., providers of insurance and risk management solutions, leaders are trying to make employees’ work-life issues easier to manage by providing access to a nearby clinic and phased retirement. Recently, the firm’s management implemented a partnership with a client who has an onsite medical clinic near the company’s Dallas office. Employees can schedule doctor appointments at the clinic and be assured they will not have a long wait. Older employees can take advantage of a “glide path” to retirement, enabling them to work shorter weeks and fewer hours with a commensurate pay adjustment. Managers have a plan in place to recruit, develop and promote younger employees as a result of our aging workforce—the average age of employees at MHBT is 48. The company’s management also offers telecommuting options, flexible start times, onsite massages and online and telephone access to a doctor 24/7. Employees also have access to one-on-one financial counseling, onsite Bible studies and workshops on managing stress and on coping with chemical dependence. Employees have remote access to their computers. The office has gone paperless, so employees can access most needed documents remotely.
Winning Site: Houston, TX – 120 Employees
Management at this CPA firm has a “people first, profits follow” mindset offering employees control over how to make work “work” for their work-life needs. Leaders formalized the flexible work arrangement request form as a tool to encourage all team members interested in a working flexibly to think of ways to perform their duties more flexibly and efficiently. Technology investments have been a leading communication and flexibility tool for the organization. The firm’s leaders have implemented extensive training and internship programs to attract young job seekers. Being located on the Gulf Coast, PKF Texas sees flexibility as a necessary disaster-planning model. Leaders report that flexibility is key to growth objectives because it helps them attract and retain motivated, energized and engaged client services professionals. Voluntary turnover of PKF professionals has historically been about half the industry’s average.
1,315 Employees in the U.S. – 71 Employees in Austin; 330 Employees in Dallas; 147 Employees in Houston
Leaders at Ryan, a tax services firm, have created an effective and flexible work place by empowering employees, offering them opportunities for career advancement and providing a helping hand when they face financial challenges. Leadership at Ryan implemented a comprehensive flexibility plan called “myRyan,” but they understand that certain jobs may limit flexible work options. Nevertheless, they encourage teams to find ways to extend those options when they can. For example, executive assistants can work with their executive to identify one day each week when they can work from home. A variety of technology makes working any place at any time a practical reality. The program has increased productivity, efficiency and retention. Ryan leaders have also seen improved client satisfaction since implementing the plan focused on performance and not on hours worked. Employees who are members of the military and/or who are veterans receive benefits such as a pay differential while serving, along with retention of benefits and Veterans Day off. When the employee returns from service, he or she can use whatever flexibility is necessary to ease back into civilian life and work. Employees nearing retirement are able to adjust the scope of their work in way that works for them and the firm. A senior consultant trains young professionals for the next steps in their careers. A 12-week internship program benefits those preparing to enter the workforce, and management planned to hire 60 of its interns in 2012. An improved training program resulted from a research study on manager concerns about flexibility, and leaders created the Culture Council to review feedback and make recommendations on flexibility program changes. As a result of this feedback, company leadership recently began requiring exempt employees to take at least 10 days off each year. The company’s wellness plan has had positive results, with 76% of employees realizing reduced premiums due to meeting improved outcomes in key health areas. And the company’s employee financial assistance fund assists those who have short-term unexpected financial emergencies. Overall, management continues to find that offering a flexible work environment and other workplace initiatives that make employees happy and productive leads to better service delivery for their clients.
Smooth Fusion Inc.
Web Development Services
Winning Site: Lubbock, TX – 20 Employees
Leaders at Smooth Fusion Inc., a technology business that provides services to marketing agencies, understand the importance of using technology tools to work smarter. Employees are provided with laptops, virtual private network (VPN) access and smartphones so they can work from home when necessary. Employees can leave early on Fridays in the summer to spend more time with family. Employees generally choose their own start and end times each day unless their job position requires specific hours. Leaders solicit input from employees on how to make work more flexible. Employees can choose between two different health insurance plans, one with a health savings account option and one without. They also receive a health club membership allowance. Leaders maintain that providing flexibility makes it possible for them to attract and retain the best talent.
The Texas Medical Center Library
Winning Site: Houston, TX – 58 Employees
Leaders at The Texas Medical Center Library see flexibility as a work imperative. Flexible scheduling enables collections librarians to negotiate with publishers around the world in different time zones, and technology makes it possible for reference librarians to work with patrons in their place of work, rather than just within the walls of the library. Leaders have also implemented a “gift of time,” which gives employees a paid half day off before company holidays. In 2012, voluntary employee turnover was just 6.8%. Employees can take advantage of flexible schedules, a generous paid time off (PTO) program (24 vacation days per year for most employees, in addition to 11 paid holidays and 12 sick day); a health and wellness program; a financial hardship fund; 100% paid medical, dental and vision premiums; and a sick leave pool program. For example, an employee who ran out of sick and vacation hours was able to extend her sick leave by using donated hours from the pool until her short-term disability could be used. Library leaders understand that employees have lives outside of work and are dedicated to fostering an environment in which employees can be successful in both their work and home endeavors.
Media, Internet, Advertising and Marketing
Winning Site: Houston, TX – 230 Employees
Leaders at Valassis, a marketing services firm, are committed to identifying ways to continually enhance workplace supportiveness and recognize the importance associates place on flexibility. The majority of Valassis associates are expected to work 37.5 hours per week, but are paid for 40 hours. This schedule gives employees time during the week to attend to personal needs. Managers encourage those who are interested in more fixed, long-term forms of flexibility to discuss the options. Many associates work a variety of flexible schedules, including compressed workweeks and flex start and end work times. In 2012, a new level of flexibility was introduced where leaders explored a pilot expansion of telecommuting. In 2013, leaders introduced this option company-wide. The goal was to move from a culture where flexibility policies and programs exist in pockets or on a case-by-case basis to a culture where employees have widespread use of formal and informal flexibility. In addition to a menu of flexible work options, associates working at least 20 hours per week receive excellent benefits which are also available to their families and same- or opposite-sex domestic partners. Leaders have seen a decrease in absenteeism and turnover across functional areas at Valassis.
Dietary Supplement Retailer
Winning Site: Bryan, TX – 67 Employees
Flexibility is a recently added strategy for employees at Woodbolt International to be successful in their jobs. Leadership at Woodbolt administers internal surveys in order to gain input from employees as these policies and programs are updated. Employees have virtual private network (VPN) access which enables them to work remotely. Employees are also offered an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and receive free membership at a local gym and a discounted rate for their family members. Each quarter, leaders introduce a new wellness program and offer awards for participation. The chief cultural officer at Woodbolt reports that their employees are their greatest asset and should be treated as such. Leadership wants to ensure they maintain the best work-life balance possible because they know what that means for both productivity and personal happiness in the workplace. Woodbolt’s culture is strongly rooted in living a healthy lifestyle—that’s why it is important amenities are offered to their employees to help them maintain healthy habits while at work.