GreatAmerica Recognized for Quality of Work Life

posted by Mike Watkins on Wednesday, April 14, 2010

GreatAmerica was recognized for their Quality of Work Life by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry in their Best of Iowa Business 2009 group. Four companies received this honor for the 2009 calendar year.
A lot of companies list customer satisfaction among their goals and achievements, but few are able to measure or attribute it to a successful bottom line like Cedar Rapids-based GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation.
As a national company that helps small- and medium-size businesses through financing and consulting services, it relies heavily on the positive attitude of fully engaged team members.
"When you walk around our facilities, you hear people laughing, see them smiling and yet working," says Deborah Farr, vice president of human resources and organizational development at GreatAmerica.
"Most of our customer interaction is over the phone, and our customers often ask us what we put in the water to make everyone so happy. They say they hear the smiles on our team members' faces. That can't be contrived—and it makes our customers want to partner and do business with us."
GreatAmerica gives its 300-plus employees much to smile and laugh about with its incentive- and team-focused awards and rewards. All employees are included in a monthly bonus program driven by company and team performance, targeted at 20 percent of their annual pay. They are also eligible for top-notch 401k and profit-sharing plans. When taken together, these contribute 8 percent of an employee's total cash compensation each year to the investment options of their own selection.
On top of that, GreatAmerica provides tuition reimbursement and personal as well as professional development opportunities on-site for team members, along with ample time off and numerous family-friendly activities and outings in the community.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety and reach of the programs that led 96 percent of company employees to say they are proud to work for GreatAmerica, as reflected in the company’s 2009 Employee Engagement survey.
“Attracting and retaining the very best people, and creating an atmosphere where they can be fully engaged, challenged, happy, and fulfilled is necessary to our business model,” Farr says. “It’s also the right thing to do for the members of our GreatAmerica family, and that’s equally important to us. The average person spends over a third of their waking hours at work, for a total lifetime investment of about 50,000 hours. That investment should yield more than just a paycheck and benefits. It should be fulfilling and supportive of personal and community goals. We provide an environment where this is possible.”
GreatAmerica also recognizes they are only as good as their last employee program and survey—which is why they evaluate the effectiveness and quality of employee benefits and programs annually.
They consistently elicit feedback from employees on what is and isn’t working and make the necessary changes and additions to take the company to the next level of business.
Examples include analysis and creation of more recognition opportunities, conflict resolution, accountability programs, and ongoing employee development.
“GreatAmerica is a dynamic organization, and we’re always looking for ways to improve,” Farr says. “We use employee focus groups and surveys to identify opportunities for improvement, and then form ad hoc committees to involve employees in planning for improvement.
“Objectively, by comparison with other companies, I think we do very well in these areas. But comparison to other companies does not influence our actions or direction. We compare ourselves to our own very high standards of excellence, and based on that, we see opportunity for improvement in these areas because we know they are important to our team members.”
Reprinted with permission from Iowa Association of Business and Industry and Stonehand Publishing Group. IA.biz, Volume 15, March 2010, p.6.

About The Author

Mike Watkins is a reporter with the Iowa Biz Magazine.

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