Teamwork, well-informed employees, frequent rewards and inspiring leadership determine the best places to work in Memphis.
These virtues, among others, make employees at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women, Mid-American Specialties and Crawford, Smith & Sharp General Contractors want to come to work each morning.
These three companies were named top workplaces in Memphis during Memphis Business Journal’s inaugural Best Places to Work event Oct. 21. The results were determined by surveys filled out by the companies’ own employees during a two-week period in July and August. MBJ’s research partner, Quantum Market Research of Wichita, Kan., managed the online survey and tallied the results to ascertain the 18 finalists and three winners.
Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women won in the category of more than 150 employees.
CEO Anita Vaughn says the hospital’s 600 employees have built excellent teamwork through communication across all departments.
“Everybody works together to make a difference in people’s lives,” she says. “In my 30 years in health care I have not seen better teamwork, not only within units but also across departments.”
Good communication is achieved by making rounds, talking with employees and always trying to improve, Vaughn says.
“The management is very involved, giving and receiving daily feedback,” she says. “We’re following up on employees’ suggestions, from changing the cafeteria menu to adding more lockers.”
It’s no surprise, then, that nurses are lining up to work at Baptist Memorial Hospital for Women and that whoever is hired tends to stay.
“Despite the shortage in nurses, we have a waiting list of nurses who want to work with us,” says Kristie Brown, the hospital’s director of human resources. “We have an exceptionally low turnover rate of 11.4%.”
People simply do not want to leave, says 4.5-year employee Pam Sere, the hospital’s program manager for childbirth and family education.
“Concerns are heard; management truly cares and helps employees,” she says.
The management at Mid-American Specialties cares so much, it rewards its employees with trips to exotic destinations, according to CEO Frank Kassela. His company, which makes and sells promotional products to businesses and governmental agencies, won the Best Places to Work award in the 51-150 employees category.
“Rewards keep the morale high and helps retention,” Kassela says.
One very elated employee, Keith Martin, just won the company’s poker tournament Oct. 22, and is now $6,150 richer. He says he’s also pleased with the company’s frequent sales contests, of which winners receive significant bonuses.
Martin found the office unusual when he started two years ago — it is home to Kassela’s dogs, among other oddities — but has liked it ever since for its fun atmosphere and benefits, he says.
Kassela undoubtedly takes this as a compliment.
“My employees view me as being a little odd, a geek, abnormal,” he says. “I dance and sing, though not well; I walk around and keep people upbeat.”
But bosses may be viewed favorably for different qualities.
General contractors Reggie Crawford and Dale Sharp of Crawford, Smith & Sharp are viewed as inspirational leaders, according to their employees. The company won top employer in the under-51-employees category.
“I was impressed with Reggie and Dale and their integrity during my first job interview,” says project manager Dave Robbins, who has been with the company since June. “Working with them makes me want to be a better man.”
The Christian values that drive the partners help employees feel that “it is not all about money; it is how you feel at the end of the day,” Robbins says.
Employees at Crawford, Smith & Sharp strive to perform out of respect, not out of fear, he says.
“The management conveys total leadership and harmonious atmosphere,” Robbins says.
The atmosphere is largely a result of caring about how people feel, says owner and founder Crawford.
“When people are hurting we talk with them,” he says. “When they have family problems, we let them take time off.”
That’s probably why recruiting people to work at Crawford, Smith & Sharp is not difficult.
“New employees come through our doors,” Crawford says of the company’s recruiting technique.
Best Places to work finalists are:
Less than 51 employees
Compass Financial Advisors; Hampton Inn & Suites @ Beale Street; Loeb Properties; Paragon National Bank; and Travelenium/AMEX.
CB Richard Ellis Memphis; Hnedak Bobo Group; Pickering; Rhea & Ivy; and Valocity.
More than 150 employees
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz; DAC Athletic Clubs; First Horizon National Corp.; Sedgwick CMS; and Southern College of Optometry.
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