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How to Improve Company Culture

Having a great company culture is a must in today’s workforce. Employees care about working for a company with a positive work environment and work dynamic. The quality of a company’s culture can have a major impact on employees productivity, performance, and job satisfaction.

A company’s culture permeates through every aspect of the business. If your company culture isn’t where you want it to be, you can take steps to improve it. Changing and improving a company culture takes time, but has long-lasting positive effects.

Here are 5 tips on how to improve company culture.

1. Trust and Transparency

Transparency and open communication are essential for a strong company culture. Sharing successes and failures with all staff creates trust and helps build a stronger business.

With open communication, challenges and issues can be identified and resolved quickly. Sharing challenges can help the whole company learn from them and create better solutions going forward.

2. Encourage Strong Employee Relationships

People are more likely to collaborate, communicate better, and enjoy their work if they build relationships with other colleagues. Facilitating opportunities for employees to meet and interact will encourage strong co-worker relationships.

Some companies provide an in-house cafe for lunch or a coffee area where people from different teams can meet and talk. Organizing social activities for employees to enjoy and get to know each other is another option.

3. Flexibility

Offering flexible work options for employees is necessary in today’s world and leads to higher motivation and retention of employees. It can do wonders for productivity and staff morale. With online resources and communication tools, work does not necessarily have to be completed inside the office.

Workplace flexibility can be enabling employees to work remotely sometimes. Or, it can mean being flexible with work schedules to accommodate for employees special occasions or interests. Giving employees flexible options for work improves their overall work/life balance and makes them more likely to do their best work for your company.

4. Align Company Culture and Values

Core values are a company’s guiding principles and should be reflected in its culture. Employees that believe in and relate to the values and culture feel more motivated and satisfied at work.

Perks related to the core values will engage employees, while staying true to the principles that attracted them to the company.

For example, if you value collaboration and creativity, provide innovative spaces for the team to discuss ideas and work together. If you value sustainability and helping people, offer employee volunteering activities to help the community.

5. Give and Listen to Feedback

Fostering a positive company culture is an ongoing process. It is important to listen to your employees to see what is working and what can be improved. Offering support when needed and showing appreciation for hard work will help create a positive work environment.  

Additionally, provide regular, helpful and constructive feedback to your employees. Having an open, flowing dialogue is beneficial for everyone and keeps all parties informed.

BONUS: Offer a Comprehensive Benefits Package

Successful companies invest in benefits to improve employee well-being. From healthcare and education and to snacks and social activities there are several benefits and workplace perks that you can offer to improve company culture and excite your staff. Beni.fit offers customized benefits solutions to inspire your staff and align with your goals.

Contact us today to learn how to create a thriving company culture and help your business flourish.

Benefits

5 Steps to Workplace Wellness Success

Every business wants to create a productive and efficient workplace. Investing in the health and well-being of your employees will increase workplace wellness success and can help lower health care costs in the long run.

An inspiring wellness program can help improve the health and happiness of employees, boosting productivity in the workplace and generating many other positive effects.

Healthier, happier employees can positively impact your bottom line, too. When employees feel better, they perform better and bring their positivity and enthusiasm to all of their customer interactions. Here are 5 steps to workplace wellness success:  

1. Understand Employees Needs

To implement a successful and effective wellness program, you need to understand what your employees need and want.

Conduct a survey about your employees overall health. In the survey, ask them about their interests and about what support they would like to improve their health. This will give you an insight into the needs and challenges your program should address.

Employees are more likely to participate in a wellness program if they feel their needs have been taken into consideration and the activities interest and benefit them.

2. Define Clear Goals

Once you have an idea of your employees needs and interests, you can prioritize your goals.

Do you want to save on healthcare costs? Reduce stress in the workplace? Focus on nutrition and physical activity or a combination of these things?  

Having clear goals for the program will help you determine what you need to do to achieve those goals. It will also help you evaluate the impact of your wellness program and make future developments to increase its success.

3. Involve Company Leaders

Company leaders and team managers are role models. Encouraging leaders to actively participate in the wellness program will emphasize the importance the company places on health and wellness. Having leaders model healthy lifestyles and participate in the wellness program also helps engrain it into the workplace culture.

Offering team leaders support in improving their health and lifestyle establishes living a healthy life as a team effort and builds comradery around wellness within teams.

4. Use Various Methods and Offer Creative Options

The are various ways to approach health and well-being, including holistic, alternative and clinical approaches. The most successful wellness programs tend to offer a combination of these different approaches.

Your employees are individuals and so effective wellness programs need cater to diverse employee needs. Offering a range of workplace wellness incentives to suit different interests will increase the likelihood of success.

Some ways to include wellness activities in the workplace are

  • Yoga classes
  • Activity clubs or teams
  • Use technology to keep track of fitness goals
  • Provide training on various topics such as health or nutrition
5. Make it Fun and Rewarding

Workplace wellness is about creating a healthy, positive and productive environment.

Offering incentives for employees to achieve their goals and celebrating successes will create a positive culture. Creative options that are both fun and beneficial will encourage employees to become actively engaged in workplace wellness, leading to a happier and less stressful workplace in the long run.

For more information on workplace wellness success and how it can benefit your company contact us today.

Culture

5 Workplace Wellness Statistics Business Owners Should Know

Workplace wellness is a buzzword in today’s human resources landscape – and for good reason. Employees physical, mental and emotional health matter and can have significant impact on their overall happiness at work and their productivity.

Around the world, employers are opting to prioritize workplace wellness, which has blossomed into a $40 billion industry worldwide. Wellness programs in the workplace spark healthier habits and encourage employees to pursue and prioritize their own personal health and wellness.

If you’re curious about the need for such programs, here’s a look at 5 workplace wellness statistics every business owner should know.  

60% of  Workers Say They’re Burnt out at their Current Job

According to a 2017 Career Builder Survey, more than half of the American workplace reported feeling burnt out at their current job. This statistic is particularly alarming because employees who’re burnt out aren’t operating at their highest levels of productivity, creativity, or happiness on the job.

31% of American Workers Report High or Extremely High Stress Levels at Work

From working long hours, to managing multiple roles, to struggling to find a sustainable work-life balance, nearly 33% of employees in the U.S. are stressed. High levels of stress have been linked to a number of health problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression.

Only 33% of Employees Say They’re Engaged At Work

Only 33% of employees reported feeling engaged at work, according to a recent Gallup report. That means the majority of the American workforce isn’t engaged, and consequently, isn’t particularly productive at work.

When employees are disengaged at work, they’re more likely to search for other jobs and make major mistakes on the job. Employees can be disengaged for a number of reasons, including burnout, workaholism, alcoholism, depression, chronic stress, or  boredom.

Productivity losses linked to missed work cost U.S. employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year

The word’s out. When employees miss work or are less than productive at work, employers pay for it. It’s important to create a work environment employees want to come to each day.

Sports teams, game nights, and team dinners are just a few of the ways to keep a team engaged. When they feel connected, they want to stay close. It’s just a matter of making that initial investment.

It’s just a matter of investing your time and emotional energy into the well-being of your team. Wellness extends beyond nutrition and fitness. Wellness programs include anything that positively impacts an employee’s wellbeing. For example, team building, professional development counseling, or paid vacation days are all examples of wellness benefits.

75% of healthcare problems in the U.S are caused by stress-related and preventable chronic diseases

Healthcare costs are generally one of businesses’ largest expenses. When preventable health issues caused by stress create other medical problems for employees, your businesses’ health costs will continue to grow.

Employees want to feel connected, appreciated, and part of the group. When an employer takes the time to provide a thoughtful benefits plan, everyone wins. Your employees will feel better, live healthier, and be happier. As a result, they’ll produce more productive and creative work.

So, what are you waiting for?

If you need help structuring a strategic wellness program, Beni.fit can help. Contact us today!

 

 

Benefits

Top 20 Great Perks For Employees

Employees are a company’s greatest asset. More than just carrying out daily tasks, employees represent their company’s brand. With that being said, many of the most successful companies receive recognition because of the actions and behaviors of their employees.

In order to attract and maintain high-quality talent, employers have begun to offer employee perks. In fact, 4 in 5 employees want benefits and perks more than a pay raise. Coupled with a great benefits package, great perks for employees keep employees engaged and excited about what they do.  

Employee perks boost company culture and build morale. So, what are the top perks for employees? Below, you’ll find a list of great perks for employees from America’s most successful companies. Employers and employees alike are sure to find their favorite employee perks from this list!

Enjoy our list of the top 20 greatest employee perks.

1. Paid Sick Days

Everyone gets sick. A company that offers paid sick days realizes that some things cannot be controlled. So, letting employees relax and take care of themselves without the fear of losing money is an excellent employee perk. Furthermore, an adequate healthcare plan shows employees that the company cares about their well-being.

2. Vacation/Paid Time Off

This survey found that the second most-desired employee perk is vacation and paid time off. A few days out of the office lets employees recharge their batteries, and a break from the hustle and bustle of the work day is great for employees who are stuck in a rut.

3. Performance Bonus

Who doesn’t love a little extra cash in their pockets? Offering a performance bonus encourages employees to work hard and exceed goals. Performance bonuses increase job performance and minimize turnover rate.

4. Flexible Schedule

A flexible schedule allows employees to set a schedule that works for their lifestyle. This perk is ideal for those employees with a long commute so they can avoid traffic, or parents so they can get their kids to and from school, just to name a few. A flexible schedule can also mean working remotely for some employees, a perk that is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace today.  

5. Wellness Programs

Wellness programs vary per company. These programs include fitness courses, yoga, wellness coaching, and on-ground gyms. Wellness programs are beneficial because they promote health and employees can save money.

6. Free Meals/Snacks

Some of the most successful companies offer free meals and snacks to their employees. There’s nothing like an afternoon pick-me-up in the form of an ice cream cone or free coffee. More so, providing meals encourages employees to eat together and grow in community.

7. Stock Options

Empowered employees are engaged employees. A way to empower employees is to offer stock purchasing and trading opportunities. Companies like GoDaddy are praised by employees for their stock options. Employees are natural brand ambassadors- especially when they own a part of the company.

8. Child Care Assistance

Now more than ever, the workforce is saturated with working parents. Child Care assistance is a great perk for employees with children. Complimentary child care services are financially beneficial to employees. More so, 48% of the children in America have two working parents. Thus, offering childcare helps families who otherwise would have to hire long-term childcare.

9. 401(k) Plan

A 401(k) plan allows employees to invest some of their paycheck into a retirement fund. This allows employees to plan for their futures and minimize stress.

10. Professional Development Programs

The most successful employees are the ones who desire to learn and grow. Professional development programs allow employees to move up in their careers and achieve career goals. Additionally, development programs make people feel excited about what they do.

11. Holidays

The holidays can be stressful. So, companies like Chik-fil-a are closed on holidays to encourage employees to spend time with loved ones. Even better, some companies offer paid holidays!

12. Employee Discounts

Everyone loves a good deal! Almost all employers offer employee discounts. Depending on the products or services provided, employees can receive unmatched discounts. Often, employees can even get access to products before they hit the market.

13. Paid Maternity/Paternity Leave

Paid maternity and paternity leave are highly influential in prospective employees’ choices. In fact, a study found that 77% of employees said that their employers’ parental leave policy affected their choice of workplace.

14. Tuition Reimbursement

Reimbursing employee tuition shows that the company is invested in their employees. The greater an employee’s education, the greater value they are to a company. Not to mention, employees whose tuition has been reimbursed are more likely to continue their education than those without tuition reimbursement. Tuition reimbursement benefits the company and the employee.

15. Gym Membership

A healthy employee is a happy employee. So, it is common for employers to provide an office gym. Some companies even pay for employees’ gym memberships outside of work. Because healthy and happy go hand in hand, a gym membership is a great employee perk.

16. Housing

Companies such as Facebook provide free housing to qualifying employees. Likewise, companies like messaging company Imo allocate a monthly housing stipend to employees who live within 10 miles of the office.

17. Profit Sharing

In profit sharing, companies allot a percentage of annual profits to be shared amongst employees. Profit sharing is a reward to employees for their hard work. Through profit sharing, employees are encouraged to bring their best to the table every day.

18. House Cleaning

Picture this: walking through your front door after a long day at the office to find a clean and organized home. Great right?! Evernote is just one of many companies that pay for their employees’ cleaning services. There’s nothing like a stress-free, clutter-free living area.

19. On-Site Games (ping pong, foosball)

Feeling sluggish and uninspired? How does a game of ping pong sound? Even a simple game of ping pong or foosball can be the perfect pick-me-up for employees. Games and activities encourage employees to balance work and play.

20. Technology

Technology is constantly changing and progressing. It can be hard to keep up with the latest and greatest products. However, many companies have committed to providing their employees with the latest and greatest.  Whether it’s the new iPhone or an arsenal of Adobe software, free access to updated technology is a great employee perk.

So, there you have it! These are great perks for employees that can be implemented by large and small businesses alike.

If your company would like more information about great perks for employees or employee benefits, we would love to help! Visit us here to learn more.

Benefits

5 Critical Employee Benefits For Small Business

Having trouble attracting great talent to your small company? Chances are, you’re not looking at employee benefits for small business the right way.

When a successful fisherman selects a lure he considers what the fish craves. When you consider your benefits package don’t make your selections based solely on what works best for your company. Rather, ask yourself: what does top talent in my field want?

High wages aren’t the only thing employees care about. As a small business, you may not be able to pay employees what larger companies can. However, as a small business, you have the ability to offer unique, flexible benefits that cater to your employees needs.  

Employees, like all humans, feel valued when their needs are taken care of and prioritized. They want jobs that can give them what they crave: a great quality of life and peace of mind.

Here’s a look at 5 critical employee benefits for small business:

1. Improved and Extended Health Insurance

Employees care about health benefits. Everyone wants to have access to quality medical care when they need it. Health insurance is one of the most expensive benefits shouldered by a company. But, offering it is an essential part of taking care of employees.

Extending health insurance to family members is a great benefit. Spending more time at work means employees spend less time with loved ones. But, including immediate family members in their health coverage helps keep employees’ minds at ease. BONUS – peaceful minds = focused employees.

2. Work-From-Home Options

This is an enticing perk that few companies offer. Allowing your employees to work from home, saves them commute time and shows trust. There are some employees that find it exciting to go to work every day, but others may find it exhausting. Giving them the freedom to work from home may also increase introverted employee’s productivity.

3. Flexible Hours

Flexible hours can be game-changer in acquiring new talent. Employees have differing needs. Allowing them to work flexible hours provides an opportunity for them to work during their most productive time of the day. Trust your employees to be responsible and work with integrity.

4. Unlimited Time-Off

You’d think this means less productivity, but the opposite is true. Not only that, this is a win-win solution for both employers and employees. Why? Employees enjoy their unlimited days-off, and employers no longer have the cost of unused time off.

However, employees should use their time-off without jeopardizing their company responsibilities. Top talent invests in the companies they work for and cares about the projects they are assigned to. Hence, an unlimited time-off benefit can help you get the top talent you need without causing an operational problem.

5. Access to Educational Assistance

Many employees are parents who are invested in their children’s education. Employees will appreciate monetary help from the company. Though education assistance may sound costly, employers can take advantage of a tax break. Making this a helpful option for companies offering an education assistance benefit as a perk.

Employees enjoy personal benefits. They make the employee feel valued and cared for. Hence, if you want to get the right people, try incorporating these employee benefits for small business into your benefits package.

Beni.fit helps businesses craft quality, comprehensive benefits packages that take care of employees. We can help you figure out what benefits will align with your company’s culture, values and priorities. Contact us today!

 

Benefits

Implementing Workplace Wellness Programs: The Benefits

Poor employee health creates many problems for the company at large. That’s why many smart businesses are coming to understand the benefits of implementing workplace wellness programs. If you’re on the fence about incorporating a program of your own, keep reading.

Traditional business owners may struggle to see the value in workplace wellness programs, seeing them as a luxury for hip startups. But that’s far from the truth.

Every business can invest in the health of their employees through a workplace wellness program and lower their overall employee healthcare costs in the long run.

With that in mind, here are the benefits of implementing workplace wellness programs at your company.

1. Lessens Healthcare Costs

It makes sense that keeping your employees healthy works out well for your business. After all, it’d be a bit difficult to run daily operations if everyone has the flu.

Keeping everyone healthy keeps you from overspending on medical insurance. And those savings can go a long way in benefiting your business — AND employees.

2. Increased Employee Productivity

Thorough research and analysis show higher productivity among employees who participate in wellness benefits from employers. In such a highly competitive business world, it’s important to function at full-capacity every day.

Imagine what the office would look like if ALL your employees were productive? You can work toward that goal if you’re willing to invest in it.

3. Improved Employee Engagement

When people feel cared about, they engage with the world in a different way. As an employer, gestures of concern for their well-being can go a long way to building a high-functioning team.

Chances are, you want your team to work well together. That means they need to be engaged. What better way than through getting them to bond about health and wellness?

4. Decreased Employee Absenteeism

If you want a productive workforce, it’s important that your employees actually SHOW UP to work. When employees are healthier, more confident, and bonded with the company, they’re going to miss less days.

And research backs this up. In fact, for every $1 spent on a wellness program, studies show that the company saves $2.73 in the long run.

5. Improved Employee Health Behaviors

Unhealthy employee behaviors can cause chaos, poor performance and conflict. It’s important to keep everyone in the right headspace and physical health.

Wellness programs give your team an easy way to stay fit, both physically and mentally. As they continue to invest in themselves, you may notice these negative team behaviors subside. Providing employees with a convenient, affordable way to take care of themselves is just smart.

Conclusion

Successful companies need to invest in their employees’ well-being — it’s only going to become more and more important. Implementing a workplace wellness program is the first step to reaping all the benefits associated with it.

To learn more about implementing workplace wellness programs download our workplace wellness eBook or contact us at [email protected] Start living well today!

 

Lori Bays, Chief Human Resource Officer at the City of Phoenix, on The Benifit

Lori BaysLori Bays leads Human Resources for more than 14,000 people employed by the City of Phoenix. That’s no small feat. But, Lori thrives in the role, making sure each and every city employee knows they’re valued and cared for. As a successful leader and entrepreneur, Lori has more than 16 years of experience as a leader across a variety of sectors.

In this episode, Lori chats with Kate King, CEO of Beni.fit and host of the Benifit podcast, about her path to leadership, how she creates an atmosphere where City of Phoenix employees thrive, and how leaders can help people stay engaged in their roles. 

Show Highlights

[2:00] Lori shares about the influence on human resources on a company’s mission and employee engagement levels

[3:00] “Employees are an organization’s greatest asset… we have no way to achieve our mission without our employees.”

[6:00] Lori emphasizes the importance of helping employees find value in the work they do.

[8:00] Lori explains how inclusion and diversity initiatives encourage personal and professional growth.

[9:00] Lori highlights the impact of employee feedback and offers ways to implement those recommendations.

[13:00] Lori talks about building a culture of excellence founded on wellness and professional development.

[18:00] Lori offers advice on how to manage large teams.

[22:00] Lori provides ways of counteracting employee disengagement.

[27:00] Lori shares about her morning routine.

[29:00] Lori discusses the three rules the lives by in her personal and professional life.

[32:00] “It’s especially important that we remember that, with making decisions that impact employees, that we consider all nuances that may be at play and try to do the right thing.”

 

The Benifit Interview w/ Lori Bays, Chief Human Resource Officer at the City of Phoenix

Interviewer: Firstly, Lori, thank you and welcome to today’s podcast. It’s a real pleasure to have you.

Lori: Thanks so much for having me.

Interviewer: So, you have a very diverse and rich work history. our path has been from psychology in social work and then switching to human resources. Could you tell us what encouraged you to make that switch? How come that public sector, not the private sector?

Lori: Yeah, so, I actually started my career out and I decided in and a social worker in psychology. And I was in the nonprofit, you know, at the time, working in-in mental health and started to move up in the organization and moved into administrative roles and found that I really enjoyed being in-in that administrative capacity and leading organizations for making [unintelligible 00:01:29]

and I continue to do that in the human services field for many years and I moved from the nonprofit sector into the public sector, and what I’ve learned as I did that and I promoted into higher levels at the organization, I learned that human resources is really a critical absolutely integral element to successfully achieving [00:02:00] the organization’s mission. And I started to become intrigued with that and I started to think about, you know, how do we really have, you know, the most high-performing, most engaged team?

And I was doing that from a very operational perspective and then when I had an opportunity to move into a more HR focused role. I was previously the Chief Administrative Officer for the county and decided to move to Arizona. And so went from Utah to Arizona and that gave me an opportunity to hone in on human resources.

And was fortunate to become the Chief Human Resources Officer here in the city of Phoenix and this role has allowed me to really explore that passion area of mine that I’ve explored from an operational perspective both as a chief administrative officer as well as the human services director. And I’ve been able to dive into what I think is really the most key element of any organization, private or public sector but especially in the public sector which is our employees are our greatest and we’re here for a long time.

You know, employees are an organization’s greatest asset, and I believe that it is especially in the public sector that this is absolutely true and we have to live by the notion that, you know, we have no way to achieve our mission without our employees. They are the most key element of the services that we provide in the public sector because we are service-based program and our organizations are service-based almost exclusively.

And in order for us to achieve our mission, we have to have high performing, engaged, dedicated employees. And for that, we need to have high quality human resource services.[00:04:00] and that’s where, you know, I really feel like I can make that connection to the community and I feel like my team really contributes to quality of life in our community by supporting the teams that do the day to day work and not frontline work. My team is-is the behind the scene.

My team is the-the support services that make all of that happen. We attract the employees and we, you know, we get them acclimated to the organization we help develop them through our-our organizational training and development programming. And we, you know, help them navigate through the system and what it means to be a city employee whether that benefits or whether that training opportunity, whether that educational reimbursement programming, what have you promotional opportunities, we help them navigate their city career and develop and become both high performing employees that we want to retain.

And so to me, it was just- it was a natural progression for me because it was the passion area, and it was a way for me to you know, really use my skill sets to enhance the mission of the organization and to help, um, serve the community in that way.

Interviewer: Thank you. You know, it’s interesting listening to you talk about the different strategies in place. Could– perhaps you could go into some more detail on that because what I’m interested is really how you’re kind of behind the scenes team really creates that atmosphere for all of the City of Phoenix employees to thrive. So it’s, you know, in the-in– I come from, uh, corporate, so there’s typically budget around how employee development, employee programs really kind of more that fun side of things, and really helping people in terms of well-being programs, and how are they really driving that.

I’m sure you have lots of those, [00:06:00] programs in with the City of Phoenix too, but how does your team really implement that, or perhaps you could walk us through a tactic you have that enables the employees to thrive?

Lori: Absolutely. So one of the things that we really focus heavily on is helping our employees to see the value in what they do. You know, someone who is a receptionist by title, you know, you’ll often hear an employee say something that always crushes my spirit when I hear it. “Now, I’m just a receptionist, how can I really impact the community?” And to me, you know, I feel like, “Oh, my goodness.” It is so important that that individual understands their no way shape, or form, just a receptionist. They are the first point of contact between the public and the city as an organization.

They are the one that makes or breaks that experience for that individual who is coming in contact with the city and-and hoping to receive a service. And they are the one that really makes that first impression for the city on its community. And so for an employee to really understand the impact that they have, and the importance that they have, and the value that they have to the organization is really key. And that’s one of the things that we work on quite a bit.

We have been working with you know, as you mentioned, we have lots of wellness opportunities, we really try and develop our employees and help them to understand they’re valuable to us as-as they start in the organization and as they develop through, and we want them to- we want them to stay with the organization. And that doesn’t mean that they stay where they started. That may mean that they, you know, they decide, you know, “I came in working in one department but I really have a goal of doing something totally different, and I need to develop skills or maybe education to get there.”

And the city will help, you know, kind of walk them through that process and develop them and show them that they’re valued and that we want them to remain a part of the city teams,[00:08:00] regardless of where they work in the organization. And we want them to continue to grow, we want to help them do that. We’ve also been working a lot on inclusion initiatives and working on celebrating the diversity. In our workforce, we have about 14,000 employees. So we have, you know, a huge opportunity to celebrate all of the different types of perspectives that are brought to the workforce or to the workplace through our workforce.

And so we’re working right now in focus groups with our employees to really, you know, talk to them about, how do we draw that out? How do we really celebrate that across our-our employee culture and our organization? And we’re getting some really-some really great feedback from our employees about, you know, let’s learn more from each other, let’s talk to each other more, let’s get to know each other as people and to not just have those professional interactions but to have more of human interactions.

And we’re, you know, we’re loving that feedback that we’re getting from our employees and trying to implement messaging, programming, training opportunities, appreciation opportunities that we can share throughout the organization to build upon some of those lessons that we’re learning in those focus groups.

The other thing that we’re really focusing on is our current and future generational needs. We are, you know, public sector tends to be a little bit more rigid than the private sector when it comes to workplace. And we’re trying to think about, you know, how do we need to behave as a workplace. What sort of environment do we need to offer in order to attract and retain the workforce that we want now and in the future? And again, getting feedback from our employees we’re hearing, you know, “We need more flexibility, we need some more work for- work-life balance.”

And we are, you know, really trying to implement or make use of [00:10:00] policies that we’ve had for a long time that, you know, just maybe help them widely use. You know, for example, we’ve had a telecommuting policy here in the City of Phoenix since 1992. It’s been in place, it existed but it’s not used very often. And so we’re trying to explore how do we get departments to explore where that can be beneficial, where can employees, you know, make use of that, which-which jobs and which positions makes sense to have those opportunities?

I mean, how do we encourage, uh, managers and supervisors to really embrace that revised talents and to really focus on– You know, if my employee didn’t get the work done, not, you know, is my employee sitting in their chair eight hours a day, 40 hours a week and you know, could they work remotely? Could they a work a more flexible schedule or to, you know, make-make their work-life a bit better with their home life?

You know, those kinds of things. And we’re really hoping to build an atmosphere were people wanna come work for us because they have those opportunities to really balance [unintelligible 00:11:03] you know, myriad of things that all of the tasks going on. You know, many-many people have children and lives at, you know, [unintelligible 00:11:09] and to go or-or dance to recitals or they wanna, you know, volunteer in their child’s classroom, those types of things. And-And it’s really important that they have those opportunities to balance.

And that, you know, we all also incorporate wellness opportunities. Give people the opportunity to take care of themselves mentally and physicallyand because of that, we know that they will do a better job at producing for the organization at, you know, really take caring- taking care of the organiza tion and the city because they’re a more healthy individuals. So, you know, it really see those of a city concept that we-that we say, “Good work matters.” And it matters to us, it matters to the community.

And having that balance and having that ability to thrive, um, personally and professionally, [00:12:00] really contribute to a better work environment which contribute to higher productivity which contribute to better service for our community.

Interviewer: Lori, thank you. I really love the point you made on the culture of excellence and really building that brand for the City of Phoenix. You know, that receptionist example you gave which is really the outcome being, you know, there is a row on a piece of paper but you’re the front line, you’re really dealing with our customers, you really are dealing with the public. And really that diversity and inclusion having the employee voices matching your customer voice, which I think is, really it is, supercritical. You mentioned wellness programs, what type of wellness programs does the city offer its employees?

Lori: To make a quite a few things, we offer lots of different mindfulness and exercise classes throughout the day that employees can sign up for and participate in. We’ve also got through our through our benefits programs, we’ve got some healthy lifestyle, sort of programs that you can participate in. And these are things that helps, you know, with nutrition, um, exercise, programming.

Really trying to help address, um, some of the lifestyle, um, choices that-that people make that can help them to be healthier individuals, help them to have higher energy levels, to be more productive, to feel better, um, to have better, you know, physical and mental health. Um, and we are, um, really trying to- we’re actually currently, um, in a bidding- uh, bidding process, we go through, uh, a competitive procurement process as most governments do, um, for our medical benefit services. And that ones of the key things that we’re really looking at right now.

That’s what sort of wellness programming are they gonna be able to offer in addition to the traditional heal- healthcare models. Um, because [00:14:00] we want to add, um, opportunities for our employees to have, um, that wellness programming, to have- um, to have the ability to have that balance and to have some of that even, you know, at work. To have classes at work, um, that they can take. You know, which we have, um, we have brown bag opportunities now, we have, um, some before and after, um, classes to discuss things like, you know, chronic disease management, um, how to have a healthy balance.

Um, we have parenting classes, we have all kinds of things that, you know, financial management. All kinds of things that can really help employees, you know, depending on their needs and their interest levels, um, for different subject matters. Um, so we do everything, you know, from physical, mental, financial, um, wellness. And we really want to, um, we want to broaden that out. Um, and that’s what we’re looking to do right now. And to offer services that might be, um, things that our employees can take advantage that will just help them, um, one, be healthier, and two, um, to really feel as though they’re valued, and that they’re not just here to provide a service, but they’re here to be part of a, um, you know, a work family that’s going to support them and-and really- and, you know, help them to be, um, well as a holistic person. Um, so that’s really what we’re- what we’re focused on right now.

Um, we also have, um, a initiative within the city that’s called Fit for Phoenix. And it’s an exciting, um, employee wellness initiatives that partners with our Parks and Rec department, um, to provide opportunities to employees, you know, to get out and be active, um, and-and it’s, um, something that, you know, also promotes camaraderie between employees, um, to, you know, partner and we do, you know, walks and walking exercises.

We actually have one coming up next week, where we’re-we’re doing the city versus the county. [00:16:00] Um, and doing kind of a competition of how many walkers each organization can-can get out there. Um, so we’re hoping to win, but, you know, we are-we are, um, you know, trying to do lots of different things that just promote our employees, um, you know, being healthy but also, you know, having that interaction and that, um, that camaraderie that we think, you know, really helps to promote a positive workplace.

Interviewer: Great, I love, um, any effort on mindfulness, I feel that this is just so critically important that not just physically but mentally there is a space and tools that people can leverage, uh, really in that space to have an overall well being. So thank you so much for sharing that.

Lori: Absolutely.

Interviewer: Um, 14,000 people is a huge team, um, then you’ve been a leader and manager for many large organizations. Um, what advice could you give to somebody who’s really leading large teams? Um, and how can they really be effective in the faces of kind of major challenges or opposition?

Lori: Well, I think, you know, the best advice I can give to anyone leading a large team is to really embrace the assets that you have in your team. Empower your team to do the best work, do their best work, excuse me, and, um, you know, because any leader that thinks that they’re going to, you know, be the-the one who’s going to, um, you know, make all the decisions or provide all the direction I think it’s fooling themselves. Um, truthfully, I think, um, you know, you have to empower your team and allow them to shine to do what they do well.

I always say, you know, I try and hire-hire people that are smarter than me, because, you know, we really need to, um, embrace the-the value that each and every member of a team brings to the table. And everybody has their own strengths. Um, so I think, [00:18:00] you know, what I would say is, you know, focus on the strengths. Um, and then the other thing that’s been really, really helpful and useful to me as I’ve grown as a leader and as a manager of large teams is-is it’s important to manage in a hierarchy. Most-most organizations are set up in a hierarchy but it’s also important to manage in what I call circles, some people call them networks.

Um, but to really manage within the natural leaders and the-the natural, um, places of influence within the organization. Um, you may, you know, come into an organization and notice that there’s a particular individual or team that’s not necessarily, you know, um, have any authority in the hierarchy, but they are very influential based on either individual personalities, or just the-the, um, function that that team, um, conducts. Whatever it is, you know, there are natural leadership, um, points within any large teams and to utilize those in addition to the hierarchy, um, is something that I would recommend to any- to any leader of a large organization.

You have to pay attention to those to really hone in on your where your natural leadership areas are, because, um, those can be really effective ways of learning information about the team and the organization and also getting information back out and through the organization. Um, so that would be- that would be my advice, you know, when there’s challenges or efforts or, you know, times of opposition, those are really opportunities to figure out what you’re really good at.

Figure out where your strengths are and to really capitalize on those and just focus on, um, you know, using everybody’s assets to their fullest ability. Um, and then, you know, kind of like the-the Coach Wooden model, you know, you do have to know where you need to develop but-but that’s not what you focus on. You focus on what you’re good at and you focus on really developing what you’re good at and

[00:20:00] putting people in the role that really suits them and-and what their natural skill sets, um, are. And then- and then other things will come along.

Interviewer: Fantastic. Focus on the strengths. And I love that you’re looking at the circles or through network opportunities because I agree with you. I think that, you know, hierarchies are where we really good to get the goals done but how you get it done, how you really can affect some great change and move creativity I think is actually leveraging those natural synergies of people working together. Um-

Lori: Absolutely.

Interviewer: You know, it’s long been said out that a Gallup says, you know, a whole bunch of research-orientated how to say it that’s about 86% of people worldwide disengage from their jobs. What are your thoughts on how leaders can impact the staff specifically for organizational growth?

Lori: Yeah, you know I think, um, I think one of the biggest ways that, uh, leaders can impact that is by, um, being inclusive of employees when changes are made. Um, we all know, as humans, you know, change tends to be hard. Um, and I wou- I would venture to say in the public sector that’s probably more true than-than some other places.

Um, but the-the importance of involving employees who are impacted by change in developing how changes are going to be made, you know, there may be that a decision has been made and we’re going in a particular direction. But if you can engage employees and how we make the change and what the process looks like, you’re going to have so much more buying and so much more support and getting there than if, you know, if you just take a dictatorial approach of, you know, this is what we’re going to do and this is how we’re going to do it and, you know, just like it, you know.

[00:22:00] That-that is, um, to me, you know, the absolute opposite of what should happen. There may be- there may be a reason to say, you know, “We have to do X,” you know, we have to either, you know, change this particular, um, service that we’re going to provide or we’re going to stop providing or we going to implement this new program. Whatever that may be, but if you incorporate the employees into how you do it, they’re gonna– for one thing happen have some great ideas I guarantee you.

But two, they’re going to have that by and that, um, that ability to influence the process and to lend their expertise once again you know to provide that value and the knowledge that they have. Um, you’re going to get a better product at the end of the day. Um, so I think- I think engagement is especially important around any type of change.

Um, but I also think it’s important to, um, you know, focus on the management of the organization and reiterating to them, um, that it’s important to have relationships with employees throughout the organization, to care about them and people, to know them and people. It doesn’t mean, you know, that you are socially involved with them at all. It just means that you have that human element, that human interaction. “Hey, how was your weekend?”

To know a little bit something about them, you know, to know do they have children? Do they have pets? What do they do as hobbies? You know, those types of things, most human interaction really go a long way for, um, building that engagement for people to feel like they’re cared about at work, to feel like they’re important, that they’re not just an expendable, um, commodity. They’re really a valued member of the team.

And that goes a long way, you know, when there are difficult times, when there are challenges and there are changes to be made, um, you’re gonna have people, so much more, um, behind you and on your team if-if they feel like you care about them as a person and to impart that to managers and supervisors and especially new [00:24:00] supervisors because I think sometimes, you know, we think someone is good enough at a job that they’re promoted to be a supervisor but they’re automatically [inaudible 00:24:09] going to know how to do that and how to do that well and that’s not the case.

You know, supervisory skills a lot of time are learned skills, they are not innate and-and, um, it’s important to help people in-in supervisor and management roles learn how to be good supervisors, how to interact in that way with their their members of their team, um, because, um, the better that they do that and the more that they’re prepared to do that in the right way, um, the better the entire organization is going to function and the better that employee engagement is going to be.

Um, and then the other thing I would say is to try to have a little fun. Um, you know, honestly, um, that’s one of the things we’ve been working on in-in my department is, um, is to bring the fun back into the workplace. You know, when I got here, I heard stories about, you know, years ago here, um, you know, people used to have this fun staff and that it has been such a calmer, uh, atmosphere for a while and so we’ve been conscientiously really trying to bring fun back into the workplace and it’s really paying off and people are enjoying it. And Blake, you know, even silly little things that we do to either recognize someone who is doing a great job or just to, you know, just to celebrate and have fun and bring a lighter mood into the workplace. I think, you know, even little things like that go a long way from place to feel engaged and liked.

Interviewer: I love the energy you have around that and I couldn’t agree with you more as well. You know, the supervisor skill one is interesting because people, you know, what got you there won’t get you to the next place, right? Um-

Lori: Mm-hmm. Right.

Interviewer: I-I agree with you, you know, when you look to research to the number one reason why people leave their job is usually because of their boss. So, I think that some great advice for our listeners in terms of really focus on inclusion and change, skilling up your leaders [00:26:00] that they are really human interactions, not just a transactional interaction from the company side and-and having fun. Um, I love those three points, thank you.

Lori, I’m gonna switch the questions a little bit to, um, more of a personal kind of so you can share with, uh, our view– our listeners, um, some things about you. Um, the first one being as they often say that success that the day is set out by having a great morning routine. Um, do you have a morning routine or set morning routine? And if so, could you share it? If you don’t, what would you love it to be?

Lori: Yeah. So, [chuckles] I love this question. And I, um, you know, to be honest, I don’t have a very consistent morning routine, um, and I’ll say that I have, you know, one of the-the thing but it’s something talking about my routine is there’s a lot of chasing around of children. So I have [chuckles] I have few children in elementary school, and, um, so, you know, the morning routine comes with a lot of, you know, helping them to get ready, um, and-and trying to get myself ready in-in the process.

Um, I-I aspire to really, um, do some sort of exercise and my dog often looks at me in the morning like, “Are we gonna go for a walk today?” Um, and sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. Um, but we, you know, I-I love to get a little bit of exercise in the morning. I am not actually a morning person, so, um, so, I have to get up extra early to kind of wake up before I get going and actually get out and do something. Um, but I’ve- I’ve started to enjoy that. I’ve started to enjoy now getting up, having a little bit of time before other people get up, you know, have some coffee, um, ideally take my dog for a walk, he loves it when we do that, and then come back and, you know, get everybody ready, help the kids get ready.

Um, my husband, you know, usually shuffling around [00:28:00] getting ready himself and-and-and that I’m trying to get off to get ready for the day. Um, so, there’s usually, you know, a little bit of chaos but hopefully a little bit of-of serenity. You know, here in Arizona, the morning especially the [unintelligible 00:28:12] especially night.

So, I have been trying to enjoy that. Um, but I do- I do think routine is important if it was- if I had, you know, the ideal, um, morning routine, I think it would be, you know, a little morning meditation, um, some coffee, a little exercise. Um, so, yeah, you know, the good days are probably pretty ideal on Monday, but cha- more chaotic days are maybe the days where we don’t all get up on time, or a little less ideal, but that’s real life, I guess. Right?

Interviewer: Yeah, I know, absolutely. I think you hit the movie mo- morning routine, you know, I wake up, I meditate, I don’t know what I have this time but the reality is always chaotic in every household do all the [unintelligible 00:28:54] in the mornings. I am not [unintelligible 00:28:56] I got two seconds of calm, I’m going to enjoy I think is the reality of our lives [laughs] So, Lori-

Lori: Absolutely.

Interviewer: Give us these three rules you live by.

Lori: Yeah, you know, the one- the one thing that, um, I-I that absolutely comes to mind and that I live by and say to myself all the time is, um, is do the right thing. I really, um, I really try and make sure that I feel like when-when I’m making decisions, you know, especially, um, in my personal life but also at work, you know, doing the right thing is important. Sometimes I think we get caught up in, you know, where well a rule says that, or a policy says that.

Um, but nothing is ever a simple as it was intended to be when it was, you know, written down in a rule or policy. And sometimes real life situations, um, need a little

[00:30:00] bit of, um, of a subjective viewpoint and-and there are- is a lot of gray areas. And so, I always trying to just think, you know, “What can I do to make sure that the right thing is done in that in that situation?” I think that is especially applicable in human resources because we deal with, um, you know, so much of people personal life that leads into the work environment and we have to remember that we are, you know, we’re called Human Resources for a reason.

We’re dealing with human beings and we are, you know, trying to serve them in their capacity as an employee, but also as people. And I think it’s especially important that we remember that with making decisions, um, with or about employees that we, um, that we really consider them as human and, uh, take into consideration all of the nuances that might be at play and to-to make-make decisions and do the right thing, even if it means we have to change the policy or make an exception, um, because sometimes it’s just necessary to do that.

Um, the other- the other thing, but I, you know, really think about are, um, I try to remember that I am not the most important person in the world. Everybody has got things going on all the time and all of that plays into, you know, how, um, how we interact with each other. And I try and remember that when I’m interacting with people, I mean, again, in HR, you know, sometimes we deal with people who are not at their best place.

And, um, and to remember to take into consideration, you know, everybody has got their own priorities, everybody’s got their own situation going on, they’ve got their own distractions and to try and remember that, you know, even, you know, in basic everyday situations like they commute to and from work, you know. Being a good, um, citizen of the freeway and-and making sure that, you know, I’m not acting like me getting to my meeting on time is the most important thing in the world.[00:32:00]

A lot of people have a lot of things going on in their, you know, making their way down Interstate kind of just like I am. And, you know, if we can all be a little bit more considerate of each other and remember, you know, that we are all not the most important person in the world every day, um, I think that will go a long way. Uh, and then the last thing-

Interviewer: I feel like I’m- [crosstalk]

Lori: If I am looking at-

Interviewer: – sticker.

Lori: Yeah.

Interviewer: There will be a [unintelligible 00:32:23] mistake.

Lori: [crosstalk] [laughs]

Interviewer: I love it.

Lori: [laughs]

Interviewer: [unintelligible 00:32:29] stage of [inaudible 00:32:29]

Lori: [unintelligible 00:32:29] Yeah, yeah. Um, the last thing which is written on my whiteboard is whether or not that I make better today and that’s really kind of what I keep with me all the time, um, is, you know, how do I make a difference? What did I- what I did do today that matter to somebody, um, and that-that’s just the-the third thing that I live by and just try and– whether it’s, again, at work or in my personal life, um, every day matters and-and so it’s important that every day, you know, I can identify something and, um, that I did that-that made a difference.

Interviewer: Lori, fantastic. Thank you. The-the each one of those I think is very inspirational and very usable for our listeners to be able to think about. Um, you know, managing 14,000 people, um, every day and-and a family, and a dog, and, you know, all of that I think is, you know, an incredible fate in itself. So, I really appreciate you taking the time with us today to share some views. I think your insights are very usable. So, thank you, um, from, you know, from entrepreneurs to CEOs. So, I really appreciate that inside and thank you very much for being on the show.

Lori: Thank you so much for having me. It was an awesome opportunity.

Benefits

What’s the Purpose of Employee Benefits?

It is possible to build a prospering company, full of thriving employees. In addition to creating a great work environment for employees and providing engaging opportunities for them to grow, companies can use employee benefits as a tool to support employees. If you’ve been asking yourself, what’s the purpose of employee benefits?, you’re in for a real treat.

Employee benefits help cultivate a community of fulfilled people within your company. Here’s how.

1. Employee Benefits Help Attract Top Talent

Freelancing is on the rise, and many companies are noticing a dramatic drop in employee loyalty. After many years of this trend, talented job candidates are starting to wake up to their value. In the recruiting process, one powerful way to hook them is through your company’s benefit package.

Great talent is going to wait for the great benefits. They’re looking for vacation time, personal time off, sick days — and lenient policies around each of these.

Think about it, your benefit package is one of the first glimpses they have into your priorities. And with companies trying new things, like unlimited vacation, the typical 401K fund isn’t seeming like as much of a draw.

It can get a bit overwhelming, we know. That’s where Beni.fit comes in. We can help you build a program that attracts the right employees for your company.

2. Employee Benefits Help You Take Care of Employees

Satisfied employees perform better, and that’s good news for both of you. Many companies offer a variety of health benefits — from basics life insurance to onsite nutritionists. Smart leaders understand the positives of keeping their employees healthy.

Aside from physical well-being, a company with strategic benefits will see increased morale. Showing workers your care about them evokes feelings of loyalty, contentment and productivity.

The ultimate win for entrepreneurs investing in an employee benefits package? Lower turnover rate. You see, when people feel valued, they add value in return. They experience that rare feeling of loyalty to their employer.

Each of these aspects of employee care makes EVERYONE’S life better.

3. Employee Benefits Reinforce Company Values

So, you’ve attracted the top talent and made them feel loved. Now what?

Well, employee benefits packages aren’t just about the immediate value received. In fact, if you go VERY strategic with your program, it can even reinforce your company values.

Want your employees to give back to the community? Offer days off for community service.

Want them to continuously learn? Incorporate a learning stipend, free office library, or an Audible membership.

Want everyone to feel comfortable with one another? Allow casual work attire, cater lunch so team members are more inclined to eat together, or plan after-work parties throughout the year.

As you can see, there’s a creative way to approach this process. And it’s what we love doing most! Whether it’s helping you reinforce values or attracting the best-of-the-best.

Now that you know the purpose of employee benefit packages, it’s time to take the next step. If you want a thriving company culture, schedule a review with us today. One of our benefits architects can guide you through building the perfect program for your team.

Click here to learn more about our services and how Beni.fit does benefits differently.

Benefits

How to Increase Employee Participation in Wellness Programs

If you’re wondering how to increase employee participation in wellness programs, you’re not alone. Though 85% of large employers introduced wellness programs in 2015, only about 40% of the employees that knew of the programs participated in them.

Many companies are investing heavily in wellness programs, but they aren’t seeing great results. Often times, employees feel disconnected from their company’s wellness programs, leading to low participation rates.

Is your company experiencing a similar trend? Tackle it head on with a comprehensive wellness program with a consistent message. The program should tap into what motivates employees and what is relevant to their needs. Give your wellness program a makeover with these 4 simple tips!

A Consistent Message Across the Organization

To efficiently spread the word about your new wellness program, maintain a consistent message across all departments. When everyone in your company knows about the program’s goals and purposes, you’re more likely to see interest in wellness and preventative care increase.

Developing a Culture of Wellness

A great way to send the message that health is important to your company is to cultivate a culture of wellness within your organization. Make talking about health and participating in wellness activities normal. Casual even. You can do this by incentivizing wellness activities and making them readily available to your employees through on-site amenities or subsidized memberships.

You can also assign wellness ambassadors that become role models for all employees! They could share tips, suggest new activities and talk about their lifestyle via corporate communication tools.

Engagement Through Encouragement

A major reason why employees don’t engage with wellness programs in the long run is because they feel defeated after the first few tries. Encourage all employees to participate and give their best effort. To combat discouragement, pair employees with others who can motivate and inspire them!

When daily work revolves around deadline-driven projects, an encouraging wellness program provides a much-needed break from the stresses of the day. It can include fun activities that everyone participates in where the only requirement is to try your best and celebrate the wins.

Customization for Employees

Employees who feel that their wellness program is personalized for their unique needs and level of fitness will be more engaged with the program overall. One way to allow for customization is to offer support for a variety of wellness activities. Going to the gym isn’t for everyone. You can subsidize more than just gym memberships! Try subsidizing the costs of other fitness activities such as yoga classes, community sports teams, martial arts programs, and dance programs!

The benefits of employee wellness programs are endless. They impact your bottom line and your employees lives in a positive way.

A Rand Corporation study on workplace wellness programs found that companies saved an average of $30 per participant each month in healthcare costs. Saving an extra $30 per employee annually may not seem significant. But, it is! Every dollar saved adds up in the long run.

Beni.fit designs customized employee wellness programs that align with and support company goals.

We understand what helps employees make the most of wellness and healthcare programs. As a result, our support has helped companies and organizations craft meaningful benefit programs that engage employees.

Contact us today to design a customized employee wellness program based on your company’s unique culture and purpose!

 

Matt Likens, President and CEO at GT Medical Technologies, on The Beni.fit

matt likensMatt Likens has been in the businesses of improving lives through biotechnology for more than 10 years now. As the president and CEO at GT Medical Technologies, Matt seeks to improve the lives of people with recurrent brain tumors. He won Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired CEO’s award in 2012 and was awarded an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the mountain region in 2015. With more than 25 years of experience leading companies, Matt has accumulated a wealth of knowledge about how to lead people. 

In this episode, Matt chats with podcast host and Beni.fit CEO Kate King, about why it’s important for CEO’s to be authentic, why he came out of semi-retirement to work with GT Medical Technologies, and why balance is key for leaders. If you want to be inspired by an incredible, experienced leader, this episode is for you!  Listen below.

Also, check out all of our podcast episodes featuring interviews with inspiring, respected leaders who prioritize their employees. Then, learn more about how Beni.fit does employee benefits differently. 

 

Show Highlights:

[1:30] Matt shares his opinion about the role CEO’s play in setting the tone for a company’s culture

[2:00] “The CEO has got to live and breathe and act that way, or there’s no chance for that culture to really gain momentum and be effective.”

[4:00] Matt discusses why CEO’s should move slowly when joining a new company and trying to affect the company’s culture

[6:00] Matt shares how he established operating principles and values as the CEO of Ulthera

[8:00] “I think the most important characteristic that a leader needs to exhibit is authenticity.”

[10:00] Matt talks about why leader’s must overcome the desire to always be liked

[14:00] Matt explains why he joined GT Medical Technologies

[16:00] Matt talks about why balance is a key to a successful life

[18:00] “My advice to people who strive to get into a leadership role is, it wouldn’t hurt to work.”

[25:00] Matt sheds light on his morning routine

[28:00] Matt talks about why he thinks people should work to fulfill as close to 100% of their potential as they can

 

The Benifit Interview w/ Matt Likens, President and CEO at GT Medical Technologies

Kate King: Hi, this Kate King host of The Beni.fit, where every episode we dive in and explore companies on how they enable employees to thrive.

Our guest today is Matt Likens, the president and CEO at GT Medical Technologies, which is focused on improving the lives of patients with brain tumors. He has a long history of success in both the corporate and the startup world. He shares his insights to culture and leadership and his key guiding principles to life.

Good afternoon, Matt, and thank you for joining us on The Beni.fit podcast today.

Matt Likens: Yeah, thank you, Kate. Nice to be with you.

Kate: Wonderful. So, I’ve got some, you know, few questions. One, um, is much more generic for you to get us started. Some people say that the CEO sets the tone for company culture. As someone who’s led several companies, do you agree with this sentiment and why?

Matt: I do agree with the sentiment. And I-I think that that’s one of the obligations or responsibilities for leadership. Um, and-and I think one of the biggest issues related to culture, relates to authenticity. And so I think the CEO, as the the leader of hopefully a group of leaders within an organization, um, to lead with credibility, they must be seen as authentic and truly believing, uh, in what they are espousing. And so, that’s why I-I do think that the CEO taking the lead and establishing whether there’s a purpose or operating principles or a big herodaceous goal or whatever the key elements are that define a culture of an organization.

[00:02:00] The CEO has got to live and breath and act that way, uh, or there’s no chance for that culture to really gain momentum and be effective. So, I think it’s gotta start there and hopefully, it’s something that as you’re building an organization, you’re inspiring people to join you who can relate to that culture in– and really thrive in that type of environment.

Kate: Thank you, uh Matt. Now, it’s interesting because some, um, CEOs are coming in as kind of taking on an existing culture and some are having the pleasure of kind of starting up a culture. And I believe you’ve been in both of those arenas. Um, what would you say to that CEO coming into a culture, just to how they would, uh, embrace and kinda change that take the lead and the reigns in there.

Matt: Yes. So, I would caution them to move slowly. [laugh]. Yes. And so, um, as I’m sure you know, change is very difficult for every person and certainly every organization. And so, I think it’s really important for anybody coming into an existing organization to be, uh, take your time and really understand what the existing values are, what the operating principles are, what that culture looks like, and is it effective. Is the company thriving? You know, are they achieving their goals? Is it a place with low turnover and highly inspired employees or very productive? If it is, you know, you probably don’t wanna change too much.

And if you do wanna change things, more to your way of thinking, if it’s slightly different than what’s operating there, then I think doing it over time with incremental change is probably more likely to be successful than if-if you want to establish a new operating [00:04:00] environment tomorrow. [laugh]Uh, that would be my recommendation. If-if it’s not an organization that is highly performing, then I think you-you probably have a license to still take your time and understand what it is exactly before you embark upon a major, uh, change to-to the environment. But you probably can do it much more quickly because there is more of a sense of urgency when the ship is sinking, or it’s just not achieving its goals and people are more likely to understand the need for change in that environment.

Kate: Now, I think that’s, um, some wonderful said advice. I think you have people coming into a– or CEO’s coming into a new company who want to make a kind of a quick impression. And I think that caution is absolutely required in what you should build for the long term and have that long view plan. So, thank you for that.

Now, you worked to 10 years of President and CEO of Ulthera. Um, how did you enable your people to thrive there?

Matt: So, in the early stages, I-I was the second employee, and, um, it was the first time I’d been a CEO, and so you really have a blank slate, right? So there isn’t an operating environment, there-there aren’t principles or values, uh. And-and so, I really when– in an operating room previously with Baxter Healthcare organ-organization, um, Healthcare, uh, I was able to come into different operating roles and establish my principles and see whether they would work well or not. And I-I made all the mistakes, right? I tried to change certain divisions of the organization probably more quickly than they should have been changed. Um, and-and so having learned from all that and having really been able to refine, um, what was important [00:06:00] to me as a leader, coming into Ulthera and having that blank slate, you-you establish something where nothing existed previously.

And I found that to be, um, a-a-a great way to do it. There was no change required, [chuckles] there was nothing, right. And-and then I-I established operating principles really as the foundation to the culture and I established five of those. And, uh, then as we were hiring people, I got to talk about what you can expect if you join Ulthera and or the operating principles in some detail. And I interviewed everybody, of course, because initially we were a small group of 220 employees. But even at the end, I was interviewing everyone just so they could hear from me what they could expect if in fact this was a good place for them to work and-and whether they had the skills that we needed in order to continue to grow the business. I just thought it was a-a great filter to use.

And then when somebody did join us, there shouldn’t have been any surprises if in fact, “Oh my god, you’ve got these operating principles who– I don’t agree with these two.” right? Um, eventually the five that we established initially grew to seven when the management team that had been assembled came to me and said, “No, I think we need to add a couple of more. I don’t think the five that we have really fully define what we need to be as an organization.” That’s when I knew they weren’t Matt’s operating principles anymore, but they were Ulthera’s operating principles, and-and everyone saw value in them. So that was, uh, really-really a great point in time for us.

Kate: That’s tremendous. Yeah. I love that, uh, statement, “They went from Matt’s to Ulthera’s.” I think many CEOs aspire to get that moving very quickly. Um, so you have over 25 years of experience in people leadership, what’s one lesson [00:08:00] that you’ve learned about leading people?

Matt: Again, I-I think the most important characteristic that a leader needs to exhibit is authenticity. Um, along with that, you’ve got to operate in a consistent fashion. So, I have worked for other leaders in the– it was like going to an amusement park and being on a roller coaster ride. You know, one never knew, when you showed up for work in the morning, [chuckles] you know, whether you were going to be, you know, at the beginning of the ride, either at a point of stability, or whether you were going to be, you know, plummeting down the highest decline, you know, in the roller coaster. And people don’t do productive work if there can’t be some, uh, sense of consistency, uh, in-in the work environment.

And so, consistency doesn’t mean that you don’t change, but when you do change, you change in a more controlled fashion and all the right communication is accompanying that change, and you’re explaining why we’re-we’re, you know– so, we’ve been operating this way, this way, and this way. Now, from this point forward, we’re going to change and these are the reasons why. The outside dynamic has changed, the market environment has changed, our capabilities have improved or declined or whatever. And then people move along with it because you’ve taken the time to really explain to them.

So, I- so, I think it’s authenticity. You-you-you can’t be seen as saying one thing but acting in a different way, uh, and-and if you are saying it, and you say you believe it, then you better damn well believe it because people are really smart and they will catch you, you know, if there’s anything that’s, you know, not quite true. Uh, and-and then just be consistent in the way you operate.

Kate: Fantastic. And do you believe authenticity is learned? You know, if you look at the operating principle, was that you’re authentic to the operating [00:10:00] principles and culture of the organization, or that you have a natural authenticity as a leader.

Matt: Yeah, I-I think you have to have a natural authenticity. And-and so maybe you grow into that over time and you realize that you can’t be all things to all people, you’re never going to please everyone, and it doesn’t matter. And-and also it doesn’t matter whether people like you, okay [chuckles]. I think a lot of us grow up, you know, wanting to be liked, and there’s nothing wrong with that, and it is great to people like you, but obviously much more important that they respect you, and they respect what you stand for, and they view you as operating, uh, in an equitable fashion that you’re-you’re exhibiting fairness in what you do.

And if you’re gonna-going to move in a new direction, you know, you build trust over time and you have, um, the capability to move the organization in new-new direction because you’ve earned that respect over time.

Kate: Fantastic. No, I-I couldn’t agree more around the, you know, to be- to be respected for what you stand for, it’s really that consistency that you mentioned earlier. So I think, you know, being able to align that to have a natural tendency to be authentic or have that honesty, and then to align with the company culture to live and breathe it everyday is absolutely the key to success there.

So now you’re president and CEO of GT medical technologies, what do you do to find great people to join the team? And other than authenticity and consistency, what do you look for in them?

Matt: Yes. So, um, until we get some more, um, uh, external funding, we won’t be looking for a lot more people to join the team [00:12:00].

[laughter]

Yeah, and we-we have four full time employees currently, uh, but a fifth has agreed to come on at the end of this month, so we’re very excited about having, uh, having that person come on board as well. Um, two of the people out of the five that will be at the end of March, uh, I’ve worked with previously. And so having done that and having seen their work and understood who they were as individuals and how committed they are to, um, to the task at hand, you know, it does give you, um, a-a really great feeling that they will be effective contributors here. A lot of the-the risk that is sometimes inherent in hiring new people is taken out of it. So, um, but-but what you really look for is people who, um, believe in what– we-we have a purpose at GT Medical Technologies. You know, the purpose is improving the lives of patients with brain tumors.

And so, you know, one might say, “Well, isn’t that motherhood and apple pie?” Yes. [laughs] So, certainly is for people who are going to have brain tumors, if we can improve their lives, that’s a good thing. But it is something that we need to be emotionally behind and committed to because that-that’s really what it’s all about. And so I think if you can appeal to someone’s emotional, uh, being as well as their intellect– I mean, intellect is pretty easy to get. I mean, they bring that to work with them every day, but if they’re emotionally involved and committed to the cause as well, you’re just gonna get so much more out of them. The company will benefit from it, they will get more satisfaction out of the work experience, and ultimately, and in our situation, patients will benefit and hopefully patients can live much longer tumor-free as a result of the technology that we bring into the marketplace in the next couple [00:14:00] of years.

Kate: And is that why you joined?

Matt: Yeah, that’s exactly why I joined. So, I’ve been in a variety of therapeutic areas in the healthcare business in over the last 10 years, you mentioned Ulthera. And Ulthera’s business was really, uh, more aesthetic medicine. So, we had a focus ultra sound device that was very consistent in providing a firming tightening and lifting result for, um, customers, uh, not really patients, because they weren’t sick, but-but cash paying customers who were looking to, uh, improve the way they looked compared to, uh, the chronology that they represented tha-than their age. And we can do that in [unintelligible 00:14:47] and we had a very high percentage of ethicacy, uh, and-and it was fine. But we worked, um, you know– we-we weren’t curing diseases and we weren’t dealing with, uh, illness at all.

And so having been, I think pretty effectively semi-retired for about 16 months, um, I wasn’t really looking to get involved in an operating wall again. But I did feel like this GammaTile technology that is represented with GT Medical Technologies has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes, uh, with brain tumors, which is, you know, that’s just not a great prognosis, uh, no matter what type of brain tumor you have, um, and-and no matter how skilled the neurosurgeon may be if in fact you have to have that tumor resected.

So this-this feels like it’s really worth while work and something that certainly I can get emotionally behind and-and I think attract others to this, uh, where it’s quite meaningful for them as well.

Kate: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is, you know, not just life changing for the people working there, you know, to your point the life changing of the patients [00:16:00]. Um, how do you, you know, being so passionate about it and, you know, clearly there’s lots of work to be done, how are you finding balance?

Matt: So I think you’re going to ask me a question maybe in the future about [chuckles] one of the keys to, uh, being successful, you know, and-and what drives someone. But I think balance is a key to a successful life. And-and so it is something that’s worth socializing with the team as well because if any one aspect of your life gets out of balance, you won’t be effective in the other aspects of your life. And so if you think of physical wellbeing or your spiritual being, uh, and also of your professional life, um, and-and, uh, all of that has to, uh, be, uh– you have to pay attention to each aspect of that for you to have a chance to be effective in everything. And so that’s-that’s just something that I think you learn over time. I don’t think my life was always as balanced as it is now, and I encourage anybody who joins our-our company to– We have talked about it, I have lunch with one-one of our former employees today, and that was part of our discussion of lunch because of some things that he has going on his personal life.

And so I think it was good for us to talk about it and recognize it and we’re all whole people and we always see a portion of that whole person at work, but we should see the whole person here, and we should talk about things overall and I think that that makes a better operating environment in itself.

Hey Kate, coul-could I go back to one other point on leadership?

Kate: Absolutely.

Matt: Yeah, I-I really– I-I don’t think there are, you know, ‘natural leaders’ necessarily. Um, [00:18:00] I think people learn over time what resonates for them and what style works for them if they, uh, if their desire is to be a leader. Um, and so I know that, you know, the sort of environment and the-the high tech and healthcare tech community that, you know, you have a few Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of hulled who, you know, they drop out of Harvard or some other fine institution and these are leading what becomes a, you know, global, you know, multibillion dollar enterprise and somehow they-they do it, and they lead it and they do it fairly well. But I think that’s really a rare-rare exception.

And so my-my advice to people who strive to get into a leadership role is, it wouldn’t hurt to work. Uh, you work for AmEx, right? And-and for a significant period of time, and I worked for Baxter and J&J for a significant period of time, and I was exposed to really good leadership practices, management practices, process practices, and-and-and I was also exposed to some miserable behaviors and practices and stupid rules. And-and so over time when you’re exposed to that, you realize [unintelligible 00:19:21] this is how– If I’m gonna have an opportunity to be in the leadership role, this is what I would bring forward with me, they’re really best practices, and this is what I would definitely leave behind. And this is what I would add, you know, my own twist on things to make sure it’s authentic.

And so I encourage younger people to– you know, J&J got to be $150 billion market cap company because they do a lot of things right. Uh, and at the same time, I wouldn’t want to work there anymore because they’re large, and they’re slow, and they have all those things. And, you know, AmEX put a lot of things right, but I’m sure there were a lot of things that drove you crazy.

And so as you move into a startup [00:20:00] world, then you’re only bringing forth those things that-that make sense to you as an individual and are more effective than some of the practices there.

Kate: Now, I think you bring up a great, um, differentiater between, you know, learning to be a leader in a corporate environment versus that of an entrepreneurial venture. Um, you know, I think last time we met, we spoke about in the corporation, you have many people. Many people have specific roles and responsibilities, and being a leader and, um, also being a doer, whereas in an entrepreneurial mindset, especially in a startup, you literally are doing it all and bringing the best of what you bring from this skill. Um, you’re both a leader as well as the doer always.

Um, but why I liked the-the what you said was the progression to being authentic, and that really is that personal growth and learning and really taking what you love, what inspires you as an individual to then become authentic with that. And then, if you go to a company and have that matched with the operating principles, that’s where you found your kind of like working Nirvana, so to speak.

Um, and I think that le– being able to lead authentically is absolutely the priority, but how you get there with an organization does involve that questioning learning really what do you stand for and do you have also the experience to be able to stand where you are. So I thought that was– that’s a great intro into kind of ways in which to become more authentic as a leader. Coz I think using the word is great, but a lot of times, you go and say, “I’m authentic.” or what does that really mean?

And I think having that, uh, perspective in self-development, self-perspective, self-compassion, really understand what lights you up, what inspires others, um, is a process that you have to continually work on.

Matt: [00:22:00] Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I-I-I think you just said it very well. Um, and just, you know, we’re diverging a little bit maybe from what– where are you going next, but I was on a panel last week as you know, and, um, you know, it was from a very accomplished folks. And-and one of the folks in the panel, um, is a-a young leader of a very successful company and they’ve got an unbelievable culture.

Uh, and he was talking about, gee, I just, you know, ho-how did you develop such a great culture? He said, “Well, it-it just kind of happened and-and I don’t think you need to necessarily be intentional about it. You get the right people and voila, it just happens.” And-and I had to speak up and say, “That’s wonderful that it worked that way for you, but I wouldn’t take that chance.” [chuckles]

Kate: Yeah. [chuckles]

Matt: I think you absolutely, as the leader, you have to be intentional about it and-and-and drive what’s the right culture for you, [chuckles] you know, and-and then, you know, if it’s the right culture for the right other people, then great, but, uh– Anyway. We-we-we had a little bit of a difference on that, but I-I-I still stand by my conviction. I think the CEO has got to drive that culture and represent it and be authentic about it.

Kate: Yeah. Absolutely. Maybe, you know, he’s one of the outliers like Steve Jobs and-and-and Bill Gates, where he just, you know, was able to ins-inspire or create that as it was going. I think, you know, to a point, most people are deliberate with culture. And I think when you look to other examples in the industry, that we’ve seen in the news in the last kind of year, not having intentional culture has serious impacts to the bottom line.

Matt: Yes. Um, are-are you thinking Uber, by any chance?

Kate: [chuckles] It’s just to name one, yes.

Matt: Yeah. The-the-there are lots of examples. And again, I think a great idea, you know, and obviously a very valuable company, but, you know, it was just, uh, wasn’t moving in the right direction. So, big changes and, you know, it’s too bad [00:24:00] but in a way, it’s understandable, right?

Kate: Yeah, absolutely. When you grow that quickly, um, without a doubt, but I think it opens the doors that CEOs and the leadership teams to really think about this, and more and more this becomes really the winning formula to how successful you actually are in your industry.

Matt: Yup. Yup. I agree.

Kate: So, Matt, I have a couple of questions more personal for our listeners, um, if that’s good with you. Um.

Matt: Sure,

Kate: You know, there’s much talk about successful leaders having morning routines, and it’s really been seen as scientifically proven and critical to their success. Could you share your morning routine with us?

Matt: Um, sure. Um, I-I-I get up early, um, and-and by early, you know, it’s 5:00, 5:30, uh, timeframe, and three– at least three times a week, and four if I’m lucky.

Um, I-I go to Orangetheory. It’s a one-hour exercise class, there are franchises all over the country.In fact, I read last week, it’s one of the fastest growing franchises in the country. And, you know, monitoring your heart rate, uh, and your metabolism, and you have an ideal, um, activity level, which is the orange level. And you should spend at least, at least 12 of the 54 minutes or so of workout at that orange level or above. Uh, and I-I just find it, um, if I devote that time early in the day and really get a great workout, you monitor your how many calories you burn based on your, uh, your body mass index as well. Uh, I have more energy all day long. So, um, so that’s a great way to start. But even before I go there, I have to do, uh, my stretching. [laughs]

I play a lot of basketball, and I run marathons and, they’re not great on your back [00:26:00] or knees. So-so I-I do that religiously as about a 20-minute program, where I’m stretching and sit-ups and moving so that I can move and go to Orangetheory and actually be on the treadmill or, uh, or on the rowing machine, or in the weight room and-and perform well. But I think that taking care of yourself physically at that time, I think sets me up for a very productive day. I also try to spend some time, and even when I’m doing the stretching, I wouldn’t call it meditation, but I wouldn’t call it thanking deeply about, you know, who I am, who I am [laughs] how far I need to accomplish, and, you know, whether-whether everything’s in balance. And so I find that to be, uh, very relaxing, and also gets my mind straight for the day ahead.

Kate: Wonderful, truly wonderful. And the last question for you, um, and it doesn’t have to be three, I just put it out there. What three rules do you live by?

Matt: Yeah, and so I-I don’t know if I live by three rules, but one thing that drives me, and always has, for some reason, is, uh, that one should strive to reach one’s potential. So and, and not to be too spiritual about this, but, you know, God has given us certain gifts and certain capabilities. And I almost feel like it’s a sin if you don’t take advantage of your God-given abilities. And so, we all have potential as human beings, along a number of different fronts.

Um, but then if-if you relate it to business, you know, so you’re-you’re starting a company, and you have a technology, and you need to hire resources, and you need to try to define the market, and you need to try to figure out how you’re going to compete effectively. And by definition, you-you-you [00:28:00] have a certain potential for that business, and it might be the number in-in health care, of course, the number of patients treated or benefiting from your product. There are– For me, after all those [unintelligible 00:28:11] there’s gotta be a financial potential for the company, uh, and that helps to measure things as well.

And so what is that overall potential? Can you try to define that? And then the goal of the company is to achieve the– as close to a 100% of that potential as you possibly can, and you’ll never get there, right? But, but I think, uh, lost potential is to me a– it’s a- it’s a big- it’s a big waste. [laughs] And so, I’ve always admired athletes who may not be the most talented, but you just know that they worked harder than anyone else and they achieve a greater percentage of their potential than a lot of other people who are more physically talented and gifted than they were. And-and that relates to for me across business and across life in general. So, I guess that’s, that would be the one driving, uh, force in my life.

Kate: Fantastic, I love it. I think that, you know, this will give many of our listeners foo-food for thought, in terms of how many of you could do strive for, uh, their potential every day. You know, as it is interesting you give the experie– the example of business, but I think from a personal standpoint, how many of us could really put our hands on our heart, and every day say I’m striving for my top potential, I’m better than I was yesterday.

Um, that probably comes to people maybe, you know, “Oh, I remember that,” “I’m supposed to do that,” or, “Oh, I remember”– Like a couple of months ago I was thinking that on the day to day, you know, when a new show gets taken over, but I think that’s a-a fantastic, you know, guiding principle with you like of, of, uh, leading your lives.

Matt: Yeah, I-I-I guess other thing is, you know, treating people the right way, right? Where any-even in a company, you know, obviously there is a CEO, uh, in a lot of companies and-and there is that person who’s, you know, just starting for the company and maybe has, you know, a-a first level role. Um, each person is equally important even though they’re at different levels and play different roles, but it does– You know, so you’re-you’re in the mail room, right? [laughs]. That’d be the traditional way-way of stereo–typical way that-to-to look at that. Well, that role is really, really important, and that person is important. And so treating people the way you wanna be treated, I mean, it almost goes without saying but, um, it shouldn’t matter the level in the organization, it-it’s, we’re all individuals and deserve that respect.

Kate: Fantastic. Matt, we’re coming up on our time today. I truly want to thank you for not only your insight but your experienced insight, uh, for our listeners today. I truly appreciate it.

Matt: Sure, thanks, Kate. Thanks for having me, and I really enjoyed it.

[music]

Kate: Firstly, thanks for listening and spending time with us. I hope you enjoyed the interview with Matt. For a transcribed version of the show, head over to beni.fit/podcast. That’s B-E-N-I.F-I-T/podcast. This is the start of compensations that begin to identify the best practices when human strived companies prosper. If you would like to recommend anybody for the show, please email me at [email protected] [email protected]

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