Rapid growth is a challenge many successful companies face, including Advance Financial. In 4 years, we went from 300 employees to over 1,200 and increased our total revenue by more than 220%. Though this kind of success is certainly a “good” problem, growing pains were inevitable.
High growth often means high stress. It’s hard to scale corporate values and culture when you’re navigating how to launch new products, open new stores, and upgrade your management and technical infrastructure to keep up with the growth. In the process, many companies put the product on the pedestal, which can disenfranchise employees and their contributions to the company’s success.
It’s at this point that a lot of companies lose their focus on the employees who helped them be so successful. Regardless of how amazing a company’s product or service might be, it’s the people who make it possible.
When our company took off at such a rapid rate of growth, we quickly realized that we needed to prioritize our employees’ health—and, subsequently, our company’s health—through the process. We needed to make sure our employees were happy, our customer service was excellent, and our business success was continuously aligned with our mission.
Advance Financial has created a healthy workplace—literally and figuratively—by doubling down on its commitment to the employee. Here’s how:
1. Put Employees First
We owe our success to our outstanding employees. Without their hard work and dedication to the company, we wouldn’t have reached—and surpassed—our already lofty business goals.
At Advance Financial, customer service lives at the core of our company values. So we pay it forward in the way we treat our employees and reward them with benefits that keep them physically, emotionally, and financially healthy. In turn, we find they stay loyal and committed to us long term.
Our benefits package includes employee-only, full-paid health insurance; a competitive 401(k) match; and health and wellness programs, such as an on-site gym, weekly yoga classes, and a nurse practitioner who comes to the office every week. In addition, we launched paid parental leave and student loan repayment programs in 2019.
Each employee also receives 40 hours of paid time off per year to volunteer in the community. And we encourage employees to volunteer together by scheduling regular companywide service opportunities, such as charitable homebuilding, park cleanups, and walks/runs. We also host an annual charity talent show.
On the purely social side, we host Newbie Nights for recent hires, with group trips to Topgolf, escape rooms, and more. We also offer exciting trips for tenured employees to celebrate milestone work anniversaries and host friendly competitions, such as holiday decorating contests. We also bring in food vendors for lunch every day so employees can easily purchase a meal on premises and not have to worry about stepping out if they don’t need to.
Opportunities for professional development are also important to employee satisfaction because they show there is room to learn and advance to higher levels within the company. Programs like our 2-day Manager Certification Program and our bimonthly, daylong Management Camps serve as a good platform for us to deliver meaningful leadership development training.
It’s these kinds of benefits that make our employees want to come to work and give it their all. When you invest in your employees, they invest in you. Employees who feel valued and engaged will share that sentiment with the customers they work with every day. That’s the perfect formula for stellar customer service.
2. Hire Wisely and Onboard with Care
It’s tempting during times of rapid growth to hire as quickly as possible. Our objective isn’t just to fill seats. We are diligent in finding people who are a cultural fit AND who can do the job.
Our onboarding program is rigorous but only because we want our employees to do the best job possible from the get-go. On their first day, they complete a full-day immersion training and then take mandatory courses and classes to learn all about us and our core values, as well as meet our senior leadership. After that, employees are required to complete ongoing training, and they receive one-on-one coaching on a weekly basis.
Put all of this together, and employees feel confident that they have the skills and tools to step right into their roles and do their best. In a company that is constantly moving, everyone needs to be ready.
3. Be Good to the Core
A company can only find true success if it continuously grows according to its values. That means that each and every person who is part of the company needs to fully understand why we do what we do. Rather than just tell them, we do our best to show them.
Started as a family company, one of our main values has always been that everyone who comes through our doors must be treated with the same respect that we would expect them to show us. It’s our “Golden Rule,” and we impart it upon our employees by regarding them with the same consideration we would a customer, thereby creating a chain of respect that runs throughout the company.
Another mission of ours is to help those in need, and that includes our employees. We encourage them to help one another through programs such as our Corporate Care Fund, which provides financial assistance to employees experiencing temporary hardship. Funded by employee donations that are matched by the company, it covers housing, utility, health care, and other necessary costs during emergencies, such as fires or floods.
We demonstrate our values through our support for employees in the hopes that they will internalize that mission and convey it to our customers.
While rapid growth can be invigorating, it can also be overwhelming and problematic if your intentions aren’t clear. I urge you to remember why you started your company in the first place and who has helped your company get to where it is today (hint: your wonderful employees); those sentiments are what keeps growth on the right path the right way.
A company that operates cohesively with its values, and whose values are deeply ingrained within the company’s culture and its people, will undoubtedly be a healthy and successful one.
|Ahnaf Bashir is Vice President of Human Resources at Advance Financial, specializing in Comp. & Benefits design administration, HR Operations Management, Strategy Development and Implementation, and Talent Management.|