2017 Smart Culture Awards

How 28 honorees make culture their competitive advantage

On behalf of Alliance Solutions Group, I want to personally congratulate the first class of Smart Culture honorees.
At Alliance Solutions Group, we partner with hundreds of organizations who believe talent is their most important asset. And over the years, if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s this: Great culture is an organization’s only sustainable competitive advantage.
Culture is what separates truly great companies from the sea of average performers. Great culture is an asset that allows an organization to attract and retain top talent. As a company in the business of matching the best talent to amazing opportunities, we can appreciate great cultures when we see them.
We are honored to partner with Smart Business to present the Smart Culture Conference. The honorees represented by these awards have the sustainable advantage and differentiator that all organizations long for — cultures that are thriving and delivering results that can impact the bottom line.
Whether a company is big, small or somewhere in between, culture is about more than just employee compensation and benefits. It’s made up of an organization’s purpose, vision, mission, values, environment and most importantly, its people.
At Alliance Solutions Group, our purpose is to motivate the world to unlock its unrealized potential. We partner with both talent and business to facilitate alignment to cultural goals and objectives through innovative staffing and recruitment solutions. Our vision is to engage all companies who truly value talent as their most important asset. At Alliance, we know that GREAT cultures encourage talent to work toward becoming the best versions of themselves. It’s with those companies where we want to partner to deliver great experiences that drive amazing results. ●

The Smart Culture Class of 2017

AKHIA has built a culture through its employees that it considers friendly, welcoming, supportive, inclusive and fun. For Founder and CEO Jan Gusich, there is no initiative more important than preserving and enhancing the culture she created.
AKHIA offers “balance days,” which provide employees the option to work more hours four days per week and have either Monday or Friday off. The company reports that balance days have helped the agency become 7 percent more efficient as tracked through its monthly hour utilization reporting.
The company’s Culture Committee sponsors events such as group lunches, Indians games and competing for the most creative pumpkin at Fall Fest.
Employees’ spouses, children and pets are also considered. For example, when schools are closed, AKHIA children are welcome and treated to a fun day at the office.
AKHIA attributes its business success to its culture. According to its Q4 2016 employee engagement survey, 98 percent of employees said they enjoy their work and 95 percent said employees treat each other with respect. The company believes its strong culture also contributes to its low turnover rate, which is at 4 percent over the past 12 months. ●
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The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank has fostered a positive and engaging work environment, ensuring its internal team feels valued and knows it matters. President and CEO Dan Flowers and other Foodbank leaders are always focused on helping staff develop the technical skills to perform at a high level, while equipping them with the tools they need to become the best possible version of themselves.
Foodbank leaders offer top performers the flexibility to decide how their work gets done. It’s not uncommon to see a Foodbanker working remotely, holding walking or biking meetings around downtown Akron, flexing their schedule to balance work and life, or bringing their child to work. This high level of autonomy drives even higher levels of satisfaction, innovation, productivity and retention.
Rewarding and recognizing outstanding performance is at the center of the Foodbank’s talent retention strategy. Praise Pins are handed out with fun messages of encouragement. Each Foodbanker who receives a Praise Pin is entered in a monthly pin raffle for a prize.
Foodbank leaders also recognize outstanding performance through one-on-one feedback, annual reviews, compensation, bonuses, stretch projects/task assignment, succession planning and promotional opportunities. ●
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American Greetings’ new, state-of-the-art corporate headquarters has a welcoming, modern, and open look and feel that reflects management’s philosophy of encouraging collaboration and team efforts. The strategically placed fireplaces and the Starbucks within the corporate offices show employees that they’re appreciated and special.
The company prides itself on offering a work environment that inspires creativity and rewards its employees. It provides challenging and rewarding work in a variety of functional areas that require fresh ideas from many different perspectives. Most importantly, it is proud to offer all American Greetings associates a path to professional success. Mentoring and development opportunities are available for associates looking to grow in their professional field.
The leadership team at American Greetings, led by Chairman Morry Weiss, believes in a holistic approach to embracing diversity — one that encompasses every area of the organization. The company strives to engage associates by creating an inclusive culture that enables them to contribute their best work, and feel valued and appreciated.
Resource networks are employee-created groups that organize around shared interests or characteristics. These groups strengthen American Greetings by addressing unique member concerns while also serving the company’s overall business goals. ●
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The commitment and engagement of Avalution Consulting’s employees are essential to the company’s culture. Attracting and retaining the best talent is something the company considers its most important task.
Its corporate values, behaviors and competencies provide the company with a framework for creating value. Hence, the company has embedded those values in recruitment, interviewing and onboarding processes and in all stages throughout its employees’ careers.
Avalution, headed by Brian Zawada, co-founder and director of consulting, invests in its employees by offering $20,500 per year tuition reimbursement. Frequent feedback and performance reviews every 90 days allow the employees to better align their behaviors and actions to its core values. Avalution also enhances and evolves its culture by surveying both employees and their spouses and significant others.
Senior associates mentor and support junior associates, which helps everyone become better, and employees create development goals that are multi-year plans to align their growth and increased value to the firm’s strategic objectives.
Twice annually, the company shuts down and brings employees and leadership together to share and celebrate wins, and discuss and learn from losses, and groups — rather than individual employees — are recognized for meeting performance goals. ●
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Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s culture is a direct result of a very powerful belief shared by the organization’s employees that each day represents an opportunity to save a life and launch a great future.
The culture is forged by the staff’s commitment to the children the nonprofit serves. As role models, it’s important that staffers keep their promises and act responsibly when working with youth, a principle that also applies to the organization’s president and CEO, Ron Soeder.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s work environment encourages collaboration. Monthly administrative staff meetings are held at one of the clubs rather than at the administrative offices so club directors can report on what’s happening at their location. Off-site, quarterly retreats blend training with fun activities, and a weekly newsletter keeps employees apprised of the activities coming in the week ahead.
Strong applicant pools and minimal employee turnover indicate to the nonprofit that people want to work for it, as does the number of talented employees it has hired away from other nonprofits.
The club says it has plans to further strengthen its culture, which is vital to its success. ●
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Bravo Wellness’ core values of character, integrity and respect are cornerstones of not only the company, but also for each employee and the approach to customers.
In 2008, Bravo was just current CEO Jim Pshock and an idea. Today, Bravo has approximately 160 employees, each of whom goes through onboarding sessions and is taught the history of Bravo.
The company holds many team building events, both internally and within the community, such as community-based sports contests. Internally, Bravo celebrates holidays with office parties, and because October is a busy month for the company, its Halloween Day is rescheduled for another month. These events help Bravo develop the culture and environment where people want to work.
The team’s close relationship is reflected in the numerous Top Workplace awards it has received.
Management’s mission is governed by the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The company’s management team is accessible and helps communicate Bravo’s attitude and beliefs to new hires and existing employees.
But the company’s culture is not born just from the top down. Each employee has come to exhibit and reflect the same values. ●
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Culture influences success at Channel Products, a company led by President and CEO Teresa C. Hack, in part through its Customer Thrill Teams. Its internal team focuses on employees, helping to keep them engaged, enthusiastic, loyal and results-driven, while the external team focuses on current and prospective customers with the aim of getting them to rave about Channel.
The “thrill” level for both external and internal customers is measured annually and the results drive the teams directionally and behaviorally for the following year to continually improve the scores.
“A-Player” attributes are published and encouraged for employees to practice in their professional and personal lives. Yearly peer reviews are conducted to measure performance and growth toward those standards.
Each associate takes a strengths profile exam that establishes five key strengths. Results are posted outside each associate’s office and are used to develop core teams for projects, as talking points during quarterly and yearly reviews, and more.
To join Channel, each candidate must go through numerous interviews and must perform well on the PsyMax, a test that measures fit for the Channel culture. The company says less than 1 percent of employees in the past five years left on their own accord. ●
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Cleanlife Energy believes that open and honest communication is the best way to foster productive collaboration. Often the best solutions come from listening to everyone offering up ideas and suggestions, which is why President and CEO Justin Miller’s door is always open.
The activities that foster a collaborative environment go far beyond the typical holiday party. For example, as a way to promote its core value of diversity, Cleanlife celebrates such holidays as the Lunar New Year.
The company also believes in personal health and fitness, and celebrated its five-year anniversary by giving away a year’s gym membership to an employee through a raffle. Cleanlife isn’t above the occasional, after-hours company-sponsored Ping-Pong tournament or taking the team out to a sporting event, either. Last year, everyone got the day off for the Cavs’ victory celebration and parade.
By being genuine and true to its mission and values, Cleanlife has had minimal turnover and has been able to attract top-tier talent, especially over the past year, some of whom relocated from other popular cities and states.
The company also has made significant investments in company-wide training, which it says strengthens the bonds and commitment to its culture. ●
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All Cleveland Clinic employees identify themselves as “caregivers.” The term encompasses both the care provided to its patients and the care staffers show to each other.
Caregivers value the collaborative and rewarding culture at Cleveland Clinic. Comprehensive, enterprise-wide programs demonstrate the Clinic’s appreciation of its caregivers with thank-you notes, certificates and in some cases money.
The impact of the Clinic’s culture is felt from the moment a caregiver arrives. The Clinic strives to support, develop and promote its staff as it fosters a culture in which people trust each other, develop strong relationships and have pride in their work.
Cleveland Clinic, led by President and CEO Dr. Delos “Toby” M. Cosgrove, works to address caregivers’ concerns by focusing on the question, “What matters most?” This model continually seeks input from caregivers while building a culture of daily collaboration that enhances success, which the Clinic says is evident in its increased patient satisfaction and employee engagement scores, and its continuing financial growth.
The impact of its culture is also reflected in its retention rate. Physician turnover, including retirements, was at 8 percent. Turnover among caregivers in support roles was 11.7 percent, which was better than the national benchmark of 12.3 percent. ●
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For the employees who work at Cleveland Indians’ Progressive Field, it takes more than just being a fan to become an integral part of the team of 1,200 seasonal employees, along with 225 full- and part-time employees who work throughout the year.
“A lot of people apply for a job here because it’s the Cleveland Indians and it sounds cool to work at Progressive Field,” says Jennifer Gibson, assistant director of talent development and engagement for the Indians. “You get to watch baseball. But we aren’t just looking for people who are Indians fans or baseball fans. We want someone who is well-rounded and can contribute to our culture and our community.”
Take a deeper look at how the Indians create a culture of transparency and participation. ●
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Earnest Machine prides itself on being a great place to work.
Its core values — doing what it says it will do, putting the customer first, respecting customers, suppliers and one another, and embracing change — represent its culture and drives its staff to not only be great at their jobs but also provides a measure for which the company makes decisions. These values allow for very nimble, evolving teammates who work together to create a great employee and customer experience.
The company and the leadership team, which includes President Kirk Zehnder, make decisions based off the wellbeing of its employees. For example, it doesn’t make employees use vacation time for anything other than vacation, allowing them time to tend to their personal issues, such as doctor appointments or car troubles, which exemplifies the trust the company has in its staff.
Earnest creates an environment of health, fun, teamwork and trust by hiring for cultural fit and hosting many activities for the employees. Event planning and wellness initiatives are all coordinated by employees from different departments and have included fun events and community involvement.
The impact of Earnest’s culture influences the success of the company because happy employees lead to happy customers. ●
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Event Source, headed by President John Bibbo Jr., expects its employees to foster professionalism and respect. To communicate that expectation, the company has an onboarding process that welcomes new team members while helping them understand the culture and expectations.
Every team member is equipped with the resources, tools, skill sets or experience to get his or her job done according to the company’s mission. Event Source hosts training workshops, sets up annual cross-training for new team members to explore other departments and runs inter-departmental trainings, all of which promotes a deeper and mutual understanding of how each department operates and, in turn, how each department affects the other.
To keep everyone in the loop, access is provided to an employee-only website that is a central point of information and interaction. Team members can access forms, documents, videos, policies, procedures and a great deal of additional company-related information.
Cultural fit is prioritized over applicable job experience when hiring because job skills can be taught, but positive attitudes can’t. The company often promotes from within and says turnover is very low. Job satisfaction surveys have won Event Source four consecutive “Top Workplace” awards, which are employee-nominated and not management driven. ●
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Everstream works to create a culture of excellence in every single interaction. Its transparent culture helps influence success while producing trust and encouraging team members to work smarter together.
Through profit sharing, each person realizes that their actions and job duties directly impact the value of the company. By including the benefit of profit sharing, everyone is invested.
Last year, a third-party company provided extensive leadership training to 10 of Everstream’s directors and managers. When the training ended, Everstream continued the dialogue by implementing monthly leadership lunches for people who participated. This year, an additional 10 managers and directors will go through the training program.
The company offers work/life benefits, such as wellness education, an employee assistance program, on-site flu shots and allows employees to bring children to work, when necessary.
It also hosts group meals and parties, gives awards for performance and has a CEO’s office “roomie of the week” program in which President and CEO Brett Lindsey each week invites a different employee to sit in his office. The program allows him to stay in touch with employees at all levels of the organization and learn more about everyone’s day-to-day activities. ●
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Home Instead Senior Care thrives on its culture of compassion and care, and says that it fills its home care workers up with enough love and compassion that it spills over to the seniors they care for each day.
Home Instead helps its caregivers maintain a happy attitude, in part through calls from Owner Therese Zdesar, who may also visit on orientation day to discuss the culture and the importance of caregivers’ happiness.
Quarterly meetings include recognition and celebration of caregivers, and Bonus Bucks are awarded when caregivers are caught doing something extra caring and special. The company also operates a 24-hour hotline for caregivers who need assistance and makes available a chaplain and bereavement support so that caregivers can talk about personal issues.
Happy caregivers tend to stay longer and low turnover rates mean better care for seniors. The industry national average in turnover per year for this field is 110 percent, according to Home Instead, which says it maintains fewer than 40 percent turnover as its caregiver experience goal. Having the same caregiver is important because it facilitates trust and helps caregivers provide better care. Constant turnover can be confusing for seniors, especially those who have dementia. ●
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Hyland doesn’t have a set cultural mission statement. Over the years, the company says HR and employee engagement teams have conducted discovery projects that determined that it felt more authentic to have employees bring their own meaning to the company mission, internalizing and interpreting the culture in their own ways.
The employee engagement team works to strengthen employee relationships and create a positive work environment, in part by creating and supporting work-life balance initiatives; improving health, resilience and energy level of the workforce; and engaging and connecting employees.
At Hyland, led by President and CEO Bill Priemer, a campus-like feel welcomes employees and visitors. Building 1 features an open-concept, industrial style with high ceilings and two slides that connect the second floor to the first.
Employee camaraderie and company successes are regularly celebrated at Hyland. From annual software release parties to impromptu company-wide paper airplane contests, the company makes it a priority to show employees they’re appreciated through a variety of unique, fun activities.
Of all of its employees worldwide, 35 percent have been with Hyland five or more years. Employees recruit for Hyland, tell their friends about job openings, wear their Hyland gear around town, and even sport OnBase bumper stickers on their cars. ●
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At Incept, the culture is driven by the company’s commitment to help employees become the best possible version of their selves. That’s done in part by defining the core behaviors of extraordinary people and repackaging them as daily practices that make that culture come to life.
Incept promotes its culture through activities that nurture a collaborative environment. For example, each month it publicly recognizes an employee of the month and the most improved employee. Hard work and dedication are rewarded with extra paid time off, and the previous quarter’s results and goals for the coming quarter are shared.
Constant communication from executives is a key part to creating a collaborative culture. Every Monday, Incept’s CEO Sam Falletta and other executives meet with the entire company to deliver updates and answer employee questions so employees feel valued and included.
Incept’s long-term success has been the result of developing a culture that rewards innovative ideas and fearless front-line leadership. This culture has led to numerous Top Workplace awards.
Happy employees bring their friends. According to Incept, 66 percent of all new employees hired in 2016 were the result of a referral from a current employee. ●
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At KeyCorp, culture not only attracts and retains the best and brightest, but it also serves as a reason why Key earns clients for life. KeyBank is a place where employees can make a difference, own their careers, be respected and feel a sense of pride.
KeyBank builds strong partnerships with employees by rewarding them for their contributions. It makes an investment in each employee through compensation, benefit programs, and other development resources that enhance employees’ skills and help them meet the business needs of their job.
The bank, led by CEO Beth Mooney, encourages employee participation in educational activities that increase job-related knowledge and improves skills. Education assistance through tuition reimbursement may be provided for study at regionally accredited schools or through the American Institute of Banking. The bank also offers computer-based and classroom training, self-study programs, workshops, developmental assignments and mentoring, which helps build and enhance leadership skills.
Pay and performance are closely linked at KeyBank. Performance is evaluated through an annual review process. At the start of the year, employees and managers develop measurable objectives that are used to evaluate individual performance. When KeyBank achieves success, its top performers have an opportunity to share in the rewards. ●
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Ask L’Nique Specialty Linen Rental co-owners Angela Klodnick and Deidre Dockman what makes their business special and they’ll say fun, family and flexibility. These are the three words that came to them when they started their linen rental business and are evident in how they continue to make it a success nearly 20 years later.
Team members seem to always find a way to incorporate fun and enjoyment in their work. Customers can feel that positive vibe, and many of them remark how L’Nique “feels like home.” That’s because, as a “family-first” company, employees have the flexibility they need to accommodate their personal lives.
The traditional 9-to-5 workday is not an optimal arrangement for many. At L’Nique, new hires decide what hours they will work, which can mean full- or part-time, or even seasonal schedules. This has proven to optimize their performance and resulted in a high retention rate — L’Nique’s first employee is still working for the company at the age of 75.
L’Nique’s employee culture is vital to its success, so the company celebrates its team’s achievements and milestones any occasion it gets, bringing together creativity and hard work to produce memorable gatherings. ●
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Finding the proper balance between profits and people is a key factor in Main Street Gourmet’s decision-making and strategic planning. Several key employees have been with the company between 15 and 30 years — their longevity and loyalty in part a product of the commitment the company has made to them and its support of their work-life balance needs.
The company’s values are common-sense guidelines that allow it to let its employees be their own people, bringing their own unique elements to the mix while still coexisting as a unit.
Main Street, led by Co-CEOs Steve Marks and Harvey Nelson, strives to create a working environment that is at once personable and productive.
The company typically sponsors a pair of employee appreciation days during the year to provide opportunities to get away from work and enjoy some fun leisure time with co-workers, thinking that people who are relaxed while still focused on their duties will inevitably produce better quantities and quality of work.
Main Street has been recognized 10 times as one of the best companies to work for in Northeast Ohio, with a significant percentage of the scoring being based on confidential employee survey responses. ●
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For Medical Mutual of Ohio, led by Chairman, President and CEO Rick Chiricosta, a culture of compliance, honesty and integrity is the bedrock upon which its reputation rests. Its code of conduct is the cornerstone of its compliance and ethics program and emphasizes the need for great business practices and ethical conduct.
The company highly values its workforce, believing that if its employees feel valued, engaged and satisfied at work, it will be directly reflected in how they treat customers.
Medical Mutual makes significant investments in its employees’ health, wealth and well-being. It celebrates employees’ successes through a variety of programs, including the Shining Stars program, which shows appreciation to those who go beyond their normal job responsibilities in demonstrating company values. Also, employees who achieve work milestone anniversaries are recognized during the company’s annual service awards banquet.
Medical Mutual’s culture features a commitment to the growth of its employees. The company has an extensive corporate learning and development program that builds individual and team skills and competencies. The company’s commitment to its employees’ growth is among the reasons it has been recognized for seven consecutive years as one of the Best Places to Work in Northeast Ohio. ●
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At National Interstate Insurance Company, it’s people who make the difference, allowing the company to create exceptional customer experiences and build shareholder value.
The organization is built upon core values that are defined through the collective voice of its employees, and each value is embodied in tangible ways. An example of the value of transparency is when President and CEO Tony Mercurio, during monthly employee meetings, shares financial results, relevant industry issues, company announcements and recognizes every employee anniversary and birthday for that month.
The recently launched company magazine, “The Extra Mile,” also keeps employees informed and features the “Extra Miler,” an employee who is recognized for his or her extraordinary effort.
Monthly on-site social events encourage employees to gather together for a themed-snack and conversation. A cross-functional community engagement team acts as the voice of its employees and helps identify and execute community service opportunities each month. There is also a cross-functional wellness committee focused on the overall health and well-being of National Interstate employees.
Since January 2014, the company’s headcount has grown over 20 percent. Employee referrals and internal transfers/promotions account for 32 percent of all positions filled the past three years. ●
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At the employee-owned Oswald Companies, employees are afforded the opportunity to invest in themselves and their company by purchasing stock.
As an ESOP, the firm’s employee-owners not only have a vested interest in Oswald’s success, but in its clients’ as well. Employee-owners of the insurance brokerage, headed by President and CEO Robert Klonk, have a larger view of the company’s goals and a stake in achieving them.
Employees receive detailed training to ensure they are knowledgeable in their specific job duties and have opportunities for growth within the organization. In addition, leadership has implemented an employee appreciation program where employees can nominate each other to get recognition for their achievements.
In early 2013, Oswald launched the Oswald Women’s Leadership Council. Through this initiative, female leaders throughout the organization have the opportunity to inspire, engage and advocate for Oswald employee-owners in support of professional and personal development.
Charter members of the council were chosen based on select criteria to reach the best cross-section of the organization, their leadership skills and their commitment to advancing others. The council members are charged with cultivating an environment to empower, develop and advance women at Oswald and within the community. ●
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Culture is a cornerstone of Rock The House Audio Visual. The company, headed by Founder and Owner Matt Radicelli, considers its culture a driver for its success, helping employees stay invested, present and empowered on a daily basis — excited to do their jobs, make positive change and accomplish amazing things with their teammates.
One of the ways it supports that culture is employee recognition.
Any employee at any time can make a recommendation that a fellow employee should receive a scratch card, which gives him or her a chance to win a quarterly prize and an annual grand prize.
The company also likes to show its appreciation for employees’ hard work by hosting events at its headquarters after shifts. This year, the company had a late-night dance party, multiple cookouts, a game night and more.
Some employee appreciation efforts are more random. For instance, Rock The House has taken its staff to the movies in the middle of a slow afternoon and brought two dozen frostys to the office for a surprise Frosty Friday.
Rock The House believes that its investments in its culture are investments in its greatest asset: its people. ●
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Two years ago, Skoda Minotti, headed by Chairman Greg Skoda, held an off-site partner retreat that focused on revitalizing the firm’s culture. The discussion, which centered on the philosophy of its values, led to the firm redefining its core values and developing behavior statements that aligned directly with those new values.
The behavior statements serve to help employees understand how they should conduct themselves, how they will be treated, how services are to be delivered and how the firm services customers and clients. The new values also serve an outward function of expressing the firm’s identity to existing and potential clients, are a primary recruiting and retention tool, and stand as a point of reference in decision-making processes.
Skoda Minotti shares, acknowledges and celebrates positive customer feedback with its employees through a variety of channels. This includes internal email communications, staff and team meetings, firm town hall forums, company intranet and newsletters, posts on the organization’s website(s), social media and blogs, client testimonials in print ads as well as posts on internal TV monitors.
The firm says it is still enthusiastically striving to invent new ways to keep its core values energized. ●
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Squirrels, led by President David Stanfill, strives to give its employees an unparalleled professional experience and a healthy, employee-centric company culture.
Having a comfortable working environment is essential to the company’s performance, so Squirrels uses LED lights in its office to reduce headaches, and allows employees to wear jeans and T-shirts rather than typically business professional attire. Employees are also allowed to set their own hours based on their schedule.
To build its team’s strength, the company’s “10%” program allows employees to use 10 percent of every week to work on projects that help them develop professionally. Also, Squirrels covers the expenses for staffers to go to their own respective conferences to learn new skills and how to improve their current skill set.
Culture impacts the success of Squirrels because it creates a motivating and positive attitude where employees want to do their work to the best of their ability. With activities such as after-work basketball games, birthday lunches, game nights and volunteer days, the company strives to create a place that employees want to come to every day.
The company’s culture also leads to the retention of its employees. It says the same core group of people have been on its team since day one. ●
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People are the foundation of Step2 Discovery’s everyday strategy. Each day, Step2 and its staff are challenged to be role models.
The Role Model Leadership Behavior award is presented monthly to employees who exhibit the six role model behaviors. For instance, role models make an impact and have specific goals and objectives, and they consider how their decisions impact other departments and teams. They balance holding others accountable while minimizing blame and finger pointing, and identify root causes so as to learn, improve and not repeat mistakes.
Role models embrace teamwork and break down silos to consider how they can be advocates for those inside and outside their natural work teams. They also act with urgency and positivity, prioritizing their time and moving swiftly on critical issues.
Once a decision is made, role models move on and focus on execution, and ensure their input is heard. They are also candid and considerate, acting transparently in their decision-making and reasoning while treating the company’s money as if it were theirs.
Written and led by the executive leadership team, headed by President and CEO Chris Quinn, these six behaviors represent the company culture and strongly influence the success of Step2 Discovery. ●
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For Vitamix President and CEO Jodi Berg, Vitamix is not in the business of selling blenders; it is in the business of changing lives.
The company’s leadership believes that improving the vitality of people’s lives starts with the employees, so it offers a highly competitive and comprehensive medical benefits package for employees and their families, as well as fitness programs and healthy eating initiatives. With its commitment, focus and vision guiding its day-to-day work, the company says it’s easy to attract and retain employees.
Vitamix hosts an annual appreciation event for employees, complete with awards and recognition activities. It is held at a premier banquet hall and includes an inspirational speech from Berg, an elaborate, multi-course dinner, games, dancing and prizes.
Tools and processes such as leadership training, scholarships and educational reimbursement, employee appreciation and development programs, and profit sharing, not only improve the vitality of Vitamix employees’ lives, they help individuals discover their dreams, aspirations, voice and potential. They create a safe and flourishing environment for each of them to learn, to grow, to realize potential and focus on making the world a healthier place. ●
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Vox Mobile, led by CEO Kris Snyder, has a single core value: understanding. The company says understanding is the way it gets to know its employees personally, understanding their vision and obstacles to achieving it. It is utilized throughout the business in part to make life easier, offering employees guidance when they need it and helping them manage busy, connected lives while enhancing the good things they are already experiencing.
The company’s employees are empowered to own their work, as the company desires people who are highly motivated to solve the problems presented by an increasingly complex marketplace. Regardless of individual roles, the company and staff share a love of technology and a commitment to continuous improvement. That’s why, with Vox Mobile support, employees commonly pursue professional certifications.
Vox is committed to celebrating employee success through its Vox Rox initiative, a peer-to-peer employee recognition program. Additional programs that have been successful within the organization include the Vox Spirit and Vox Active committees. In 2016, the Vox Spirit Committee was responsible for multiple food drives benefiting the Greater Cleveland Food Bank as well as the adoption of two families for which toys, clothes, cash and gift cards were collected. ●
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Thank you to our sponsors

As the world’s largest labor and employment firm, we focus on delivering high-quality, innovative legal services while offering a diverse and inclusive culture where anyone can succeed, making Littler a destination firm for lawyers and professional staff.
Littler is pioneering the way legal services are delivered by developing smart and cost-effective technology platforms to meet clients’ evolving needs and expectations. As the legal industry progresses, the firm’s innovative culture draws forward-thinking individuals who embrace change.
For 75 years, Littler has fostered a culture of empowerment where people of all backgrounds can grow, succeed and belong. Recognizing diversity and inclusion are part of an ongoing journey and Littler continues to set the standard in the legal industry and beyond. Lawyers and professional staff celebrate the power of diversity and embody our belief that people who bring their whole selves to work can thrive.
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With more than 1,200 attorneys in over 75 offices worldwide, Littler serves as a single-source solution provider to the global employer community. Littler attorneys anticipate and meet clients’ needs with on-the-ground resources and extensive experience on regional, national and global levels. ●
CultureShoc is a high-performing team and leader development firm in Cleveland.  Our mission is to passionately discover, engage and grow leaders. This applies to our own people, as well as every client, partner and friend. To sum up our internal culture and main differentiator, we would simply say, “Be a Buffalo.” That phrase is based on folklore that buffalo run head-on into storms, thus getting through them much faster. Our mindset is to solve issues and attack opportunities head-on within the team, and help clients do the same. At CultureShoc, this means to clearly define what is expected of our team members on a weekly, quarterly and yearly basis and hold each other accountable to those standards. Our team enjoys a flexible schedule, transparency across the board and the opportunity to take ideas and execute. Instead of counting vacation days, we count results, and our PTO rule is simply that we don’t leave each other hanging. We are committed to live and die by our core values, which attracts both talented individuals and clients that want to work with us. New employees find out that our meetings are full of productive debate and decisions. Perhaps more than anything else, we genuinely strive to transform our people and our clients.●
Since its founding in 2001, K2M Design has maintained an identity as the Culture Architect, creating environments for businesses that are reflective of their vision, shared values and desire to improve operational efficiencies. By identifying the uniqueness of your business: who you are, what you do and what you believe in, we use our specialized visioning process to create dynamic work spaces that reflect your unique culture through architecture and interior design. We can do this for you, because we’ve done this for ourselves. Each K2M location uses these basic principles, and from our insight, we’ve designed offices that are reflective of the individuals that inhabit them. The result has been environments that are collaborative, open and vibrant; promoting learning and creating a more productive workforce that is happy to come to work and remains an employee for the long term. Taking our two passions, good design and good business, we blend our entrepreneurial mindset with creative environments proven to have a bigger return on investment and a greater impact on the people and culture that is created. ●
Blue Technologies is an award-winning office technology solutions provider offering office hardware, managed print services, document management and IT solutions. We’ve serviced and supported local and national businesses from our headquarters in Cleveland for more than 20 years — with branch locations in Canton, Columbus and Sandusky.
We recognize that our people are our most important assets; and that finding a career path — not just a job — is an important part of our lives. That’s why Blue Technologies is dedicated to providing every team member with the chance to be part of a winning team committed to being the best. We also benefit from the opportunity to improve the lives of ourselves and our families through rewarding financial growth and benefits support, personal and career development, and community service involvement.
With this culture in place, our 200-person team is well-trained and highly motivated to uphold Blue Technologies’ “Commitment to Excellence — EVERY DAY.” This five-point pledge of accountability and reliability — guaranteed in writing — is put into place to protect our customer after an acquisition is complete, covering product performance, product service, supplies, easy acquisition and customer service. ●
At World Synergy, we believe the foundation of a business and its culture begins with the value proposition, or the Essence. By understanding the soul of your organization, it becomes easier to identify not only the right clients but also the right employees. When you live by your core values they become embedded in your culture. First and foremost, we live and work by the Platinum Rule — to treat people the way they want to be treated. As a business built on lasting relationships, we pride ourselves on always being people-first, and see people as they are: individuals.
Our upbeat and talented team cultivates an atmosphere that values collaboration, growth and encouragement from day one. We’ve come a long way since our inception. And we have to give credit to our people for getting us here.
In an industry that is always evolving, we rely on our experts to constantly push us forward and challenge the status quo.
We live and breathe innovation, and are redefining what it means to work as a team. Together, we work hard, work smart and have fun. After all — it isn’t just “work” if you love what you do. ●
Companies like Executive Caterers are rare because of the “family” environment that we’ve build over the past 60 years. We have many employees who have been with us for several decades, but we are also constantly in search of great talent that shares our values. We have built our company on providing not only the best hospitality for our clients, but also for our employees. Our edge over our competitors comes from our constant focus on service, which includes our insatiable search for new ways in which we can provide service to our clients. From our state-of-the-art mobile kitchen, to our in-house bakery, to our floral, linen décor and audiovisual departments, we are always evolving and growing to help serve every one of our clients’ needs. Our company is built around our love for hospitality, courtesy and the Cleveland community, and we believe these values are what make us Cleveland’s premier caterer. ●
Engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It is the result of a long-term commitment by your organization to connect with and invest in the wants and needs of your target audience.
Convero develops content marketing programs that increase engagement and performance. Our five-step process delivers detailed plans — from strategy and planning to execution and measurement — for organizations across a wide range of industries, including banking and finance, health care, higher education, manufacturing and associations. ●
At Shamrock, we believe that we are only as good as our team. The ability to attract and retain talented, motivated people has long been among our company’s greatest strengths. Boasting an extremely low turnover rate — virtually unheard of in the business communications industry — Shamrock takes good care of our people. Employee appreciation events, incentive-based competitions, team building activities, and community service opportunities reinforce that Shamrock values our people, celebrates their achievements and talents and is inspired by their willingness to give back to our community.
The Shamrock business model matches our services to our customer’s needs. Every member of the team is empowered to deliver unmatched customer service. Working together for common goals, sharing in successes and lending a hand, as needed, are all in a day’s work. The values-driven philosophy at Shamrock, coupled with the customer service-oriented culture philosophies of Gung Ho!, Fish and Raving Fans, creates an environment where customer service flourishes effortlessly. It’s that consistent, plus-one deliverable that sets Shamrock apart and drives a customer satisfaction rate that, in turn, drives a healthy bottom line. Together we commit to BIG things for our team and our clients: Big ideas turn into big achievements and big results! ●