By: Nick Teas, Human Resources Generalist
Building a workplace that supports and subsists employees well-being is a goal motivated by all of JWilliams Staffing’s (“JWS”) core values. In order to be a Performance Driven Professional, who maintains their Integrity and is able to Give back to their Community by constantly Learning and Sharing, requires the team to be at their best physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. I am sure many Companies can relate when I say - our people are a testament to the incredible growth JWS has sustained these past few years transitioning out of a global pandemic.
Not one person can do everything, which is why we need a team of people surrounding us to help us achieve greater goals than we ever could achieve alone. The key here is to look at the support system in place around us. When proper supports are created intentionally and aligned with the Companies core values, the result is a strong workplace culture where employees are fully engaged with their work and excited for where the Company is headed.
While that may appear to be a grandiose statement, JWS stands as an example of a Company that has built an incredible support system, based off of ideas obtained from the latest research and best practices in the industry. For the purpose of this article, I will be focusing on the following 3 key supports, and will use practical examples from JWS to illustrate how a Company, no matter their size, can help employees self-actualize:
Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” states that an individual has to meet their basic physiological and safety needs first, before they are able to reach their full potential. This just means employees who feel physically and psychologically safe in the workplace are far more likely to be able to focus on creating meaningful work and sharing new ideas. Companies can achieve this by prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) to make people feel welcomed, having competent safety programs, by going beyond the basic ACA health insurance offerings and by successfully educating employees on an “Employee Assistance Program.”
JWS’s DE&I program is near and dear to our Founder’s heart. According to the World Economic Forum, “men still outnumber women 3-1 when it comes to business ownership.” JoAnne Williams continues to be an advocate for women in business, the inclusivity of women in high levels of the corporate world, and encouraging women who want to be entrepreneurs across the nation.
Each year, our Founder also sends a memo to the entire corporate office, welcoming suggestions for improvements, asking each person to offer at least one idea for improving a process. Williams recognizes that sometimes the best ideas come not from the visionaries at the top, but from the people doing the work, day-in and day-out. This allows employees at every level to contribute, to feel like they have a voice and an impact on this Company, no matter what department they are in or what role they are in. The best part is, every idea is considered, and many great ideas have come from Jr/new employees as well.
JWS provides new hire and ongoing training on safe work practices to all of its employees, temporary and corporate. The Company recognizes the bulk of our employees performs office-related roles and have taken a proactive, rather than reactive, role to protect their safety in the office. This is not just an HR function either, even our Marketing department has written articles championing the benefits of good ergonomics, on How Ergonomics in the Office can Improve and your Health and Are You Upright & Core Tight?
Lastly, JWS sponsors eligible employee’s health care and has carefully chosen a plan that goes beyond basic annual physicals and Doctor visits. Our insurance program offers a pretty extensive “Employee Assistance Program” (“EAP”) with:
People not only want to feel connected, they also need a purpose. It is incredibly motivational to know you are heading towards a goal or vision, and everyone is working together to realize that vision.
To assist with that purpose, JWS’s Individual Development Plan helps facilitate this process. Instead of a standard “yearly review,” we ask employees to reflect on where they’ve been, what they like to do, want to do, want to be later in their career, and then we align their job role with their goals, and finally work together to come up with SMART goals to get there. Manager and employee are working together on this process, instead of a traditional “top-down” approach where managers dictate performance deficiencies once a year. This turns it into a collaborative process and this meeting is a time to strategize big goals and milestones, and then set smaller SMART goals which are reviewed throughout the entire year.
The Company utilizes this same model on an organization-wide scale by consistently engineering “Key Performance Indicators” (or “KPIs”). KPIs help everyone in Company know where we are headed, how close we are to getting there, and directs our brilliant ideas towards a single purpose.
To our Temporary employees we offer access to our comprehensive online learning platform, the “Real Estate Learning Network.” Employees have job specific, free online training available to them for New Home Sales, Leasing, and our recently expanded Tax Credit training. The purpose of temporary staffing is to be a spring board, elevating candidates with the experience and training they need to get the permanent full-time job they want.
Time is the greatest gift we can give. The basics of an employer-employee relationship has always been the employer gives compensation in exchange for a portion of an employee’s time, efforts and talents. At a basic level, this is why it is crucial to provide competitive compensation, flexible hours, and flexible work arrangements.
To that end, one will always find at least one JWS employee working from early in the morning, until late at night, and even over the weekends. JWS is, at the same time, available to assist our Clients at any hour, 7 days a week, providing us with a competitive edge, whilst also allowing different employees to work different shifts that best meets their needs.
For eligible employees, JWS has also embraced a Hybrid work arrangement, whereby employees can work from home 2 days a week. Hybrid work has been proven to help employees stay more engaged, and has been proven to increase productivity. As far as Company culture is concerned, “Culture is how we work, how we treat each other, and the standards we set.”— Bob Toohey, CHRO at Allstate. Notably, culture is not “where” we work. As masters of the many tools of technology afforded to us, we are able to stay connected to all of our people, no matter which state in which they reside.
Our Corporate team is supported by what we have deemed the “Fun Committee.” This is a voluntary group consisting of members of various departments in the organization, who regularly meet to plan fun and engaging events for our entire staff. Examples include potlucks, themed dress-up days, and ping-pong tournaments.
To further support an employee’s ability maintain work-life harmony, it necessary to continue the fight to destigmatize mental health issues. One method is to encourage the use of a critical piece of the EAP, which includes access to counseling, offering free initial visits and discounts. Tele-counseling is also available for increased ease of access to mental health services. Employees have access to legal and financial consultation as well.
Ensuring each member of the team is the right fit for their position is crucial. Recruitment strategies should never seek to hire for the sake of filling a position.
JWS’s recruitment strategy is fairly extensive. It begins with examining the role itself, the basic duties, responsibilities, first need to construct a basic idea of what experience and education is needed to physically do the job. After that, there are going to be hundreds of resumes who can physically and technically “do the job,” but that doesn’t mean they are going to be a great “fit” for the job. Research has shown that people are far happier in organizations where their values align with the Company’s, which is why we use our core values in making any final determinations. Examining a candidate’s long-term career goals will determine if there is potential to stay at the Company and grow long term, or if we would just be a stepping stone into another phase. Measuring and reviewing a candidate’s personality is very helpful in reviewing a potential fit as well, one would never expect a quiet, reserved introvert to be performing well in a sales role that requires hours and hours of talking to new people each day!
In addition to building our team and community here at JWS, it is one of our passions to give back to the external community around us. To support this, JWS offers eligible employees paid volunteer time off. Employees are free to give back and volunteer at any non-profit that fights for a cause they are passionate about, while still getting paid.
For employees, if you’d like more ideas on how to best maintain work-life harmony, check out this helpful article: Finding Work-Life Harmony
At the end of the day, every individual is responsible for their own happiness and their own development. Each Company is only responsible for designing and implementing a support system that begins at the top and makes every person on the team feel like their work and their journey is seen and supported fully.
Offering these supports is only step 1, the next step is to educate employees on the available supports rigorously. Introduce it during new hire orientation, bring it up again throughout the year, bring it up in meetings or during one-on-one’s. Life will happen, economic downturns will inevitably happen, but if we come together, support one another, and build a culture that is both driven towards high performance and has support and respect for all members and levels of the organization, then there is no storm we could not weather.