According to Webster’s Dictionary, culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization. According to CHG Healthcare Services – parent company of CompHealth – culture is the secret sauce in their recipe for success, and they experienced a great deal of success this past year. In a year that saw many companies still recovering from the economic recession CHG soared above the competition. In fact, Mike Weinholtz, CEO of CHG, indicated he was sort of thankful for the recession. Why is that? Well, he believes the recession actually exposed some of the flaws of companies who are underperforming and highlighted the enduring value of ours. While some companies are spending their resources solely focused on sophisticated business models and cutting edge technology, CHG is investing in its people. In so many words, CHG hasn’t lost sight of the fact that – above all else – we are in the people business.
The problem with all the new technology being introduced every day is that it has caused some people to chase strategies that essentially strip the humanity out of their business. What I mean is that although they probably understand you need to treat people well, it isn’t their top priority. For some companies, technology and sophisticated business models are their core strategic principles and working with people helps support that strategy. The exact opposite is true for us: putting people first is our core strategy, and technology and sophisticated business models support our people.
According to Mike we are performing well in a challenging market because we understand that people, not technology, drive our business. That’s why CHG’s #9 rating in Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For was kind of a bigger deal than our financial performance. Not that money isn’t important, but there’s an understanding that what’s really driving our performance is our ability to understand and care for the needs of our people and create shared vision, values, and goals. In short, creating a culture of putting people first is responsible for our stellar performance.
But what really is culture? People talk about it all the time but I don’t think many people understand it. Scott Beck, President of CHG, talks about how culture is a real buzz word in corporate America; but while many companies claim to have it, their performance would indicate otherwise. Now, many companies do claim to have some sort of culture. I’m sure many companies’ employees share an attitude that their company is...mediocre; thus they share a goal of finding a better job. That’s certainly nothing to brag about. What a truly great company does is influence these attitudes by creating a delightful work experience for their employees. They invest in the ideas and interests of their employees. They see the unique value of each individual and find a way to harness that value in a way that is beneficial for the company and the employee. They operate under the assumption that what’s best for their employee is typically what’s best for the company – and in so doing create an authentic and meaningful relationship with their employees. As a result there is a shared attitude of putting people first and a shared value of helping people reach their full potential which, in turn, creates a culture that is very attractive.
This delightful work experience for our internal staff projects outward, and creates a delightful experience for our providers. In fact, when I’m speaking with potential providers and they ask me why they should work with CompHealth over any of our competitors, I tell them it is because of our culture. It’s not the money, the benefits, and not even necessarily the jobs we have that win over providers. While individually these things have their importance, I have been more successful winning over providers by sharing the unique culture of our company.
Since my leaders take a real interest in me as an employee and a person, it is only natural that I do the same with my providers. So I build deep and meaningful relationships that I might otherwise have missed if I weren’t putting people first. The result is that, in my division, we are placing twice as many providers based off referrals as we are from people who inquire directly about jobs through our website. I have providers that I placed months or years ago sending me e-mails and text messages telling me that they’re selling the value of our culture to their colleagues and recruiting them to work for CompHealth. They’re basically doing my job for me. What this says to me is that more than our jobs, benefits, and flashy website, providers value our culture.
Culture is not new, but is taking a role in business that was maybe once reserved for communities. I think in the past most people felt that working was all about paying bills, supporting a family, or having money to pursue material things. However, CHG is helping its employees find meaning and happiness at work by putting people first. We are getting to the core of what truly delights our people. So while other companies are chasing the latest trends and fads, CHG continues to cement its legacy by building communities that are delighted by our amazing culture.