After about four decades in business, we can confidently and unequivocally state that the reason we are still here – and the reason we have thrived – is an always evolving emphasis on the professionals that we are fortunate to call our work teammates. Having spent my career as a senior marketing executive at several leading companies, I was pleased (but not surprised) to discover that the lofty pronouncements about how much our company cared about its human assets matched the reality of my daily experience.
This people-centric focus is especially important because BLM Technologies has transitioned from primarily serving the financial industry toward also serving a broader set of industries (e.g. education, retail, hospitality, government), as we recognize how our core competencies serve many industries so well. Simultaneously, we have broadened our expertise and consultative approach by packaging hardware and services solutions to best meet the evolving technology and automation objectives of our clients. It’s always difficult to achieve this type of positive transformation – but decidedly more difficult without the enthusiastic cooperation of your workforce.
Here are the key lessons we learned on our path to team-centric success:
Lesson 1. Core values do count. A lot of companies have a lofty set of core values – but much of the time, these values become no more than platitudes to be printed on a poster or coffee cup. But when you treat them as action items (like we do), they can become a powerful business driver. For example, our employee of the month is always chosen based on his or her practice of the core values, which are:
Lesson 2. If we take care of our people, they will take care of the company. The popular meme is that customers come first. But we choose to follow what Richard Branson says:
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Simple equation: fulfilled employees = happy customers.
In fact, our focus on our team infiltrates every part of our culture. You see, as an ESOP (Employee Owned Stock Plan) company, it behooves each of us to work toward the betterment of the company. Although I will argue that our team’s commitment was solidified well before earning ESOP status. It is in this very unique way that our team takes care of our team.
Lesson 3. It’s true – you have to give first to receive. Our company executives all understand how important the hiring process is to building and maintaining a professional workforce. But just hiring good people isn’t enough. You need to show them that you consider them your most valuable resource, not just the output of their labor.
Lesson 4. Investments in people boost bottom line performance. You have no doubt seen the quote: “The CFO asked: What if we invest in our people and they leave? To which the CEO responded: What if we don’t and they stay?” We believe and follow this philosophy and it has paid off in a big way. We make it a point to acknowledge the internal, industry and educational achievements of our teammates.
For example, in just in the past few weeks, we have showcased Josh Hofstad, who recently earned his PMP certification, and Jay Marquardt, who celebrated 20 years at BLM Technologies, with many notable achievements along the way.
Lesson 5. When you treat people right, they stay longer. This is where you might be saying “duh.” But it’s amazing how many firms neglect to consider the positive impact of employee longevity and more importantly, to take active steps to improve it. We do, and the numbers are heartening. At our organization:
- 10% have worked here 25+ years.
- 20% have worked here 20+ years
- 32% have worked here 10+ years
- 45% have worked here 7+ years
Our CEO, Kevin Flaherty, believes that his greatest contribution, in addition to the steady growth of the business, is to make sure his executive team never forgets the imperative to nurture and grow all BLM Technologies teammates, to make sure they reach their full potential. This is not just good human decency – it is a key factor in the health of our business and our balance sheet. Even if it is not officially listed on the balance sheet.