Feb. 24, 2012
A year before the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, wiping out hundreds of technology companies and $5 trillion in market value, an entrepreneur took a website name – DentalPlans.com – and about $1,000 to create a business that today has more than 500,000 visitors a month and represents more than 40 of the largest dental savings plans.
Yet, the company’s success stems not from its offerings – but its people and a culture of inclusion, CEO Alfred “Buddy” Johnson says. The company has created a cluster of events designed to incorporate its people. For example, each month, a group of employees meets with President Jennifer Stoll for “Wii with Me” in the beach-themed break room. The program includes 30 minutes of Wii with Stoll and another 30 minutes of food and chat. It gives associates the opportunity to connect directly with the president and share ideas on how to make the company a great place to work.
Johnson also meets with a group of employees for a monthly Breakfast with Buddy. The initiative gives associates a chance to chat with the CEO and share their thoughts on what would help them be more effective in the organization. The company also hosts an in-house book club, where executives meet to share thoughts on management books like “The Speed of Trust” and “The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey” to further their leadership development.
Executives extol management incentives like flexibility for working moms and a rich package of health benefits. The company also invests in educational assistance for full-time employees, giving up to $750 a year in tuition reimbursement toward degrees, licensing and certification courses.
“Good employees treat all of their employees fairly,” Stoll says. “They also pay close attention to making the working environment an attractive place to work by asking them what they want, and delivering on it.”