Caring for Your Number-One Customer

Article by:
Dale Williams, EO Nebraska
Dale Williams
EO Nebraska

Dale is a partner in Medical Solutions, a company that serves 900 hospitals by providing nursing and allied contract staff. Medical Solutions was the only Nebraska company to be listed in the 2008 Inc. 500 list, marking the second time Dale has made the list with a business. He can be contacted at dale.williams@medicalsolutions.com.

How do you keep good employees around? Throughout my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve discovered that a strong corporate culture is the cornerstone of a successful employee recruitment and retention program. That’s certainly the case with Medical Solutions, a healthcare staffing company I started in 1997. Not only has our culture kept us creative and proactive as a team, but it has led to major growth in the past two years. Building and instituting this culture has proved rewarding, but it wasn’t easy. Our effort to sustain healthy employee retention involved two major components:

Hire the right kind of people.
This has been the focal point of our approach to creating a healthy company culture. Hiring the right people begins with a very careful evaluation and selection process that involves at least two interviews for every position. After the manager and a team member interview a prospective employee, the other owner and I interview them ourselves. This ensures that we are always hiring people who want to be empowered at work and who fit our culture.

Build a culture that empowers and excites employees.
The second part of our approach was to make our employees excited about coming to work. We did this by knowing that each employee is our number-one customer. Over the years, we have implemented several programs that have reflected this belief, including instituting a casual dress code when we hit weekly goals, creating a fun break room with a foosball table and pinball machine, employee of the month awards and others.

While all of these programs are beneficial when establishing a comfortable work environment, what helps us retain key employees are the little things we do each day.

Here are a few things we implemented that have resulted in healthyemployee retention:

  • New employees are assigned a company mentor to guide them through the first month on the job. I’ve found this helps give new hires someone to talk to and learn from.

  • When a new employee comes on board, we have a program to celebrate their arrival. This includes having a welcome sign and greeting card waiting for them, sending flowers and a gift card to their homes and taking them to lunch with company personnel.

  • Every month we take the afternoon off and go off–site to engage in a fun activity, such as going to baseball games, taking a river cruise and playing paintball. This kind of activity has been crucial in helping us build a true team and not just a collection of employees.

  • Another step we have taken toward building a unified team is our peer employee–recognition program, where employees nominate each other for the "Go Beyond!" award when they go the extra mile. This program has inspired peer-to-peer growth and encouraged teamwork.

  • We provide all of our employees, not just management, with two full-time concierges that can help make their lives easier, such as run errands for them. This specialized service lets our staff know that we appreciate their busy schedules.

  • We have an open-door policy. We want every employee to feel comfortable talking to the owners about anything that is on their mind. By creating an atmosphere of honesty and openness, I’ve found our team is less inhibited to be proactive and adopt new measures.

Dale is a partner in Medical Solutions, a company that serves 900 hospitals by providing nursing and allied contract staff. Medical Solutions was the only Nebraska company to be listed in the 2008 Inc. 500 list, marking the second time Dale has made the list with a business. Contact him at dale.williams@medicalsolutions.com.

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