Prolonged shutdowns. Business interruption. Isolated workforce. All are ingredients for business destruction, and COVID brought it all. But in a year where everything could have been destroyed, the OIA was humbled by the recent announcement from Ohio Business Magazine’s, Best Workplaces in Ohio, naming the OIA as one of the best workplaces in the state.
As employers were forced to redefine what the workplace looks like in a post-pandemic world, the OIA stayed true to what has always worked for us, putting people and relationships firsts. We know that every company has its secret sauce to create the perfect recipe for their culture, here is what has worked for the OIA:
Putting People First
Whether it is our staff or our members, relationships and people come first! Every decision is based on who and how it impacts our culture. We even moved 2 years ago to position our headquarters in the downtown space to be at the epicenter of Columbus, Ohio to benefit our staff and members. We all agree that a healthy culture is as important as a healthy balance sheet.
The benefits go deeper than salary, with a mission that focuses on ensuring clients are made whole and financially secure, we feel that security starts with our team. The OIA matches dollars on all employee 401(k) plans, provide dollars towards medical plans, and covers the cost of dental and vision. Furthermore, when the company performs well the staff is recognized first with financial rewards.
The OIA takes it a step further by ensuring employees maintain a work-life balance to secure mental and physical health. With flexible schedules, ensuring vacations are used and keeping each other accountable that when you are out of the office, you are using “responsible urgency”, meaning you are unplugged unless something is about to go down in flames if you do not respond! All these actions have allowed employees to avoid burnout while still being a competitive and growing group.
And these examples are simply tangible, non-negotiable items. Digging deeper into the culture and the people, you will find a family, a support system, a network of individuals that care deeply about each other. We have seen examples of sharing time off when others are in need, collectively pooling funds to help offset medical expenses, supporting employee’s children’s goals, dreams, aspirations. Yes, profit is necessary, but it is not the most important thing. The most important thing is to help people live better lives. It ensures we have a staff of people who are happy, who love the work they are doing, and who love the team they are doing it with.
Pursuing Employees’ Passions
Being in a small company inevitability means wearing many hats. For some organizations, it could lead to burnout, but what we have noticed at the OIA, it has allowed team members to find their “calling,” or an area of work that provides them the greatest fulfillment. The result has led to increases in productivity, it makes the team feel happy, and perhaps even lucky to be at work.
The team is encouraged to pursue personal and professional development by participating in conferences, taking classes, whatever is of interest to them to help advance themselves. This push satisfies the team’s curiosities and provides rejuvenated focus and innovation. Each year, there are carved out budgets for each employee to explore new interests, improve a skill, and remain curious through learning.
Bringing People Together
The OIA knows the effectiveness of a team relies upon both goodwill and solidarity of the team. We know that bringing people together to celebrate life’s milestones is one of the most human things to do. Our personal lives bleed into our professional life, and vice versa. It is impossible to be a human and not have these two lives intersect often. Just like good families, we celebrate, sympathize, show regard for others. We know when we need to lift others, soften, and comfort and provide aid. When big things happen, we hit pause on the business and recognize the moment. We put clout in the community, in our team, and our family. At the OIA, it is one and the same.
Empowering Employees to Own the Business
Intentionally, at the OIA, our titles are seldomly used, but rather we are referred to our respective line of business OWNER. So, we have periodical meetings that are called Business Line Owner meetings. It is essentially like owning a slice of the business and you are responsible for overseeing the development and execution of the strategy, budget, and how to grow, innovate and push that line of the business forward.
What we have experienced is the focus shifts from what cannot be done to what can be done. The team feels a great sense of responsibility not just to our members, but to one another. This has cultivated an environment where no one is left to fail on their own. Everyone is there to support one another and fill in where it is needed. When failure is realized, it is met with normalization and acceptance – failures are a fact of life. At the OIA, we never waste a moment learning. We learn from the mistake both for a personal and organizational growth opportunity.
Our team has ample experience in the business world, we all know what traditional business strategies say and how they work. We also know that when you ask people to merely perform their duties, to be an instrument within a money-making apparatus, it leads to gross mismanagement and failed operations. Our organization has been successful because we know that people are at the heart of our business model, and that very fact is what keeps everything running successfully.
To learn more about how to be an important business line owner at the OIA, contact us!