Podcast Episode 25: What Makes DHG a Great Place to Work

greatplacetowork_certificationtony-bondDHG was recently certified as a Great Place to Work®. In this episode, we talk with Tony Bond, Chief Innovation Officer at Great Place to Work (GPTW), the global authority on building, sustaining, and recognizing high-trust, high-performing workplace cultures. Tony shares with us what makes an organization a great place to work and points out several key aspects of DHG’s culture and programs that are truly special. Tony helps organizations achieve desired business outcomes while developing and sustaining strong workplace culture. GPTW's culture transformation services are rooted in 25 years of research into exceptional organizations, refreshed annually through Best Companies To Work For competitions in 45 countries (ie. annual FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For in America).


Episode 25 Transcript:

AGH: Hello, everyone and welcome back to another episode of our DHG Podcast Series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I love this venue because we get to hear from our people about the things that matter the most to them; flexibility, careers, and of course, stories about our people. I recently began my 9th year with DHG. I know for you millennials out there, nine years probably sounds like a lifetime, right? Well, I have to say nine years and I am so proud to work at DHG and I'm proud of how over the past nine years DHG has enabled me to grow, even evolve in my own career. This is an amazing place to work - I knew this nine years ago when I started working here. But last year, it all became official. DHG was certified as a Great Place to Work, and honestly, I believe this is something that we all can celebrate. But what makes somewhere a great place to work? Today I have with me Tony Bond who is the Chief Innovation Officer at "Great Place to Work". Welcome, Tony.

TB: Thanks Alice Grey. I appreciate it.

AGH: In his current role, Tony assures that Great Place to Work's core transformational model is constantly integrating new client insights and developments in culture transformation delivery. I must say, we have really loved working with Tony and his team as we continue to drive a high trust culture here at DHG. Tony recently spoke to our partner group and that's what inspired me to invite him to join us for our podcast. So without further ado, I think we'll get started. My first question seems pretty simple - what makes a great place to work?

TB: Yeah, that's a great question to start with Alice Grey. What makes a great place to work - it's really an organization that's creating a strong culture so that people experience their organization like you said about your nine years. So you're building a strong culture, but you're also achieving strong business results at the same time. So those two aren't mutually exclusive. They go hand-in-hand. A great place to work is one where you're building a culture where people can flourish, and at the same time you're achieving strong business outcomes. Some of the dimensions or characteristics you'll find are great relationships across the organization for all. So it doesn't matter what role you have or where you sit in the organization, if you feel really good about the relationships you have with others, the company is profitable -- we're looking at long-term sustainability -- and also what we know about these great places to work is they're innovative. They're always continuing to try to get better, to serve their stakeholders in a better way, and that includes employees in that group. Speaking of what makes a great place to work, I would say that that's a good description.

AGH: Wow, yeah that's terrific. So it's not just about perks. It's a lot of different dimensions. What are some of the trends that you're seeing among today's great places to work?

TB: I'm glad you mentioned "it's not all about perks and benefits". I mean, those are important parts of creating a great place to work, but there are so many other things that have as much of an impact. So, if you think in terms of trends, what we're seeing is that there is a really strong focus on human potential. So, organizations really have a desire to make it a great place to work for all. I had mentioned earlier that it doesn't matter about your role or where you sit in the company. Everyone deserve a great place to work. So one of the trends we see is that there is a strong focus on creating a great experience for everyone in the organization. You could be an executive, you could be on the manufacturing floor, but you all can benefit from that. So really, the key to that is this focus allows all people in the organization to achieve their full potential, and really that supports the company's innovation and performance. So I would say one of the key trends that we're excited about is a focus on a great place to work for all. Then there are some other things that really stand out; organizations are really focusing on training and development. This means giving employees the resources they need to do their job effectively. Then last but not least, there is a really strong focus on well-being. If you can think in terms of over the years we've heard a lot about sustainability and companies focusing on the impact they're having on the environment and society. There is an equal impact or focus now on helping people thrive.

AGH: It is interesting for me to hear you say those three trends, because those are three areas that we at DHG are seeing different programs and things being implemented, such as our Energy For Life, which really is about your physical, your emotional, your mental and your spiritual well being. It's all about your well-being a holistic way so that you do have energy to focus on the things that are important to you inside your organization, inside work, but also and most importantly, outside of work. That's very interesting. So one thing that we are focused on is building a high trust culture. How does an organization build a high trust work environment?

TB: That's really good. Trust is a key word because most of our research is really focused on trust, and so how do you build that? What we measure are three relationships. We're looking at the relationship that I have with my leadership team, or management. We're looking at the relationship I have with the work that I do and the meaning it brings me. We're also focused on the relationship I have with the people that I work with. If you think in terms of what really builds trust, it's that relationship I have with my  management team or my manager and we're looking at it through the lens of really three aspects; do I see that person as being credible? Are they creating a culture where I'm respected and my ideas are respected? And then also there's fairness. Are they creating a culture of fairness? So I would say one thing that really stands out in building trust is this issue around fairness and inclusivity. That's probably one of the hardest things to tackle in an organization that has one of the greatest impacts. Trust is all of those elements, but really, you want to focus on how to create a culture where there is a social fairness for all and that's really important in building trust.

AGH: That's really interesting. So one way that we are able to measure that, among other things, is through our DHG Voice survey. We survey once a year and we survey through Great Place to Work. Why is it important that we survey once a year?

TB: I would say, Alice Grey, it’s much more than a survey. You're opening up a dialogue. Those are the conversations you're opening up with your employees. So it may be a survey that gets that started, but it sort of forces the conversation that lasts throughout the whole year. So it's important to really know, how are people really experiencing the culture? What are their needs? What are their unmet needs? The only way you're really going to know that is to have some sort of a continuous and systematic way of getting feedback from people. So that's why I feel like surveying once a year is really important. The other thing to remember is once you start doing that, having those conversations, there may be some employees who will push back on having to take surveys. But most will expect to have that opportunity every year, to give their feedback. So surveying is really important because it creates this open dialogue that continues throughout the year.

AGH: Yeah, and I will say that one of the really interesting things that I've been able to be a part of is watching us take our survey results and translate that into actionable items and seeing things come to fruition. And we have numerous things that are out there, such as our reward and recognition program, RAVE, that is a direct result of that survey. We also have a new performance management system, which will be rolling out this spring; direct result of our survey. I can keep going, and keep going, but without those survey results, we wouldn't really know where to focus our energy and it really does give us, as a firm, the feedback we need to continue to improve.

TB: Yeah. You're doing a great job. You're creating a cycle where you're asking for feedback and you're thanking people for feedback, you're doing something as a result of that feedback, and then you keep that cycle going and it just builds an even stronger culture.

AGH: Yeah, it's kind of like New Year's resolutions, right? So if we start off on day one and we eliminate the chocolate, day two we eliminate the potato chips, by day two we're pretty good.

TB: That's right. Exactly

AGH: I'm not saying I eliminated chocolate from my diet, though.

TB: I love chocolate. I'll never eliminate it.

AGH: So, for Dixon Hughes Goodman, you've had the opportunity to work with us, you've had the opportunity to review our survey results. What do you see as some of our greatest strengths? Also, on the flip side, what are some areas that we should be focused on in the coming year?

TB: Yeah, I'm glad you asked that and it's been a privilege for us to work with your organization. You are a, as you mentioned, Certified Great Place to Work, and you are doing some really great stuff. There are four strengths and weaknesses and you've sort of teed up by describing your career. Nine years at the company, you're really excited about being a part of it, every single day you feel excitement. You feel like the company is really focusing on the whole person. So in our research or time with you, those are some of the things we've discovered. There is this real strong focus on work-life balance, and people are encouraged to balance their work with their personal lives. So employee wellness; nurturing the person, the professional, and the member of society is something that we see DHG doing really well. Also, there is a strong sense of trust in management. We talked about how important it is to have trust. The employees there feel like the leaders are trustworthy. They're able to make the right decisions, and that's a key part of having a great place to work. There is this belief that management matches their word, and there is transparency, so all those things makes a strong culture. Another strength that we saw, which ties into something you mentioned earlier, is that there is a strong contribution to the community that you work in. That's important, because people want to be able to have an expression of themselves at work and not be something separate at work than they are in their personal lives.

AGH: Right.

TB: So the fact that you are an organization that contributes to the community is something that we love to see. Then last but not least, what really stands out, you have this really strong onboarding process. When you're bringing people on board, you really orient them into your culture. That's really a key part of setting people up for success. So those are some strengths that really stood out from the time we've spent with all of you.

AGH: Terrific.

TB: As far as opportunities, I guess you want me to share some of the other side of the ledger as well?

AGH: Yeah, outside of "we need more chocolate in the offices", what are some other areas?

TB: These are less about problems, and more about opportunities. I mentioned the onboarding and the orientation you have, and there is an opportunity we see to leverage that process even more to extend your recruitment and retention efforts to a more diverse workforce. I know that senior leaders are interested in that, so that's something that I feel like is an opportunity. Then also, an opportunity to make sure you continue to keep the communications going with employees so they understand how to get involved in decision making, how to best leverage their skills, and some of the strategic decisions that are being made. So just involving people in the day-to-day decision making process will help spark even greater innovation for your organization. So those are two things that kind of stood out from the work that we've done. Things to make, what is already a really good culture, even greater.

AGH: That's great. Well, we are so grateful for our time working with you guys and are really excited to see what 2017 will bring and I want to say thank you for joining us today.

TB: Thank you so much for inviting me, and best of luck for all of 2017 and we look forward to continuing to support you.

AGH: Thank you, and thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you all tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our Life Beyond Numbers. Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.

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