Among the daily emails that urge you to act, there is the occasional message that causes you to think. I had this experience when I read the invitation for the annual potluck luncheon for employees that have been with our firm for 10 years or more. Ten years. A decade. While I have been in the over-10 club for more than a decade, the invitation really caught my attention this year and particularly when it was pointed out to me that 67 of my colleagues were also in the club. That translates to 37% of our workforce! Now, while I didn’t do any research to confirm this, this seemed to be a very high percentage, and as one of the owners of the firm, and an enthusiastic promoter of our business, I was quite proud of this statistic. I did conduct a quick internet search to see what the average job tenure was in the U.S. In a report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, as of 2008, workers over the age of 25 had been in their current job for just 5.1 years. Even more interesting was that this figure is almost unchanged from the average tenure in 1983, which was 5.0 years.
So a decade on the job IS a big deal. Why then, have more than a third of us stayed at Parker, Smith & Feek for 10 years or more? Is it the money? Well sure, our pay is important but I suspect there are really multiple reasons and many of those unique to the individual. The one reason I think all of the 10-year club would agree is important to their careers is the stability and predictability of our company and its culture. We are continuously transitioning our leadership and ownership to younger generations with the singular purpose of perpetuating our firm for years to come. We will be celebrating our 75th anniversary in 2012 and have every reason to believe that we will be here for milestone celebrations in the future.
I’m sure our Human Resources folks could cite a variety of statistics to demonstrate the advantages of a long-tenured workforce, but common sense says it’s just good for business. We have the obvious savings in recruiting and training but the real benefit is the opportunity we have to develop long term relationships with our clients. They benefit from the expertise that aggregates in career employees and can quickly develop trust and confidence in our advice and counsel.
Our employees receive a nice service award for their 10 year anniversary. They in turn give to Parker, Smith & Feek a greater gift - the experience and knowledge they share each day with their clients and each other.
I just finished reading Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short”, which deals with the fascinating and ultimately devastating details of the subprime mortgage trading industry and how it brought our financial system to its knees. Lewis describes how financial institutions created and sold worthless derivatives simply because they could make a lot of money doing it – at the expense of their investors and inevitably many of their own organizations. They were fueled by greed and hubris, with little thought or concern for anything else.
This reminds me of a lesson I learned early in my career at PS&F. Our number one core value is “Focus on client objectives.” This was made clear to me in a discussion I had with my predecessor, Vic Parker. Young, energetic, and full of ideas, I approached Vic one day with a number of suggestions to improve efficiency within our company. Vic listened patiently and then asked one question – ‘how will this improve client service?” Based on my obvious pause and empty expression, Vic knew I had not given that any thought. I was focused only on reducing cost and improving bottom line. I quickly learned that everything I did needed to be viewed through the core values of our organization. If it didn’t fulfill a value, it wasn’t done.
Vic clearly saw what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras later described in their wonderful book, “Built to Last”, as “the tyranny of the or”: “you can either have a great culture or make money; you can provide exceptional client service or manage your expenses.” Collins and Porras maintain that the best companies change ‘or’ to ‘and’, and that each objective exists in harmony. You will never sacrifice one to achieve another, and in fact, to do so should be culturally impossible, because your business operations are driven by your values.
The philosophy of the founders of PS&F embraced Collins and Porras’ concept. Parker Smith & Feek is a privately held, employee owned firm because we feel that’s the best structure in which to align those values. Our shareholders are invested in this business and its long term success. Further, we compensate everyone here with a salary, as opposed to the standard form of compensation in our industry, commissions. We do that in order to reward driving client value – not selling stuff.
Our approach to business is not unique by any means. In fact, a great joy of mine is interacting with many of our fine clients every day and watching them apply these same principals within their companies. Core values and business success are not mutually exclusive in America today, despite what has happened on Wall Street.
If you follow technology trends you have probably heard how “cloud computing” is going to take over the world. Cloud computing is an exciting concept that is changing the computer industry, but because it has been with us so long and in so many forms it is difficult to differentiate from what we are already doing and how it might truly change systems already in place.
In this Podcast Doug Pullman, a member of the Parker, Smith & Feek marketing team, describes the planning and process this top 100 broker went through to prepare for their launch into the world of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and blogging. Doug discusses the very deliberate and measured approach the brokerage took, the importance of getting not only support but participation by senior management, and how success is tied to having a unified and comprehensive strategy.
Doug explains that the agency goal was to use social networking to help customers and prospects build a personal and emotional connection with the broker. They knew that they needed to be where 25% of their customer base was – the social web. His advice to other agencies wanting to tap into the opportunity the social web offers: take it slow, learn from others, and add your own voice. - From Insurance Journal
Join us for a Webinar on August 26, 1:00 – 2:00 PM Eastern
Reserve your seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/973143289
By August the regulatory agencies will have released additional guidance on a variety of health reform issues and employers will be approaching the deadline for implementing the first of the changes effective for plan years beginning after September 23rd. This will be a perfect time to review health reform’s impact on employer plans and help employers begin to strategize for later health reform changes.
Our presenter for this webinar will be Bob Radecki, President, Benefit Comply, LLC. Bob has more than 25 years experience in the HR and employee benefits industry helping employers deal with difficult benefit and compliance matters. Previously, Bob founded and served as President of A.E. Roberts Company, a nationally recognized compliance consulting and training firm. He has served as the principal HIPAA consultant to a number of health insurance companies, and is recognized as a leading expert on a variety of benefit compliance issues including COBRA, FMLA, Health Reform and more. Bob has been the featured speaker at numerous industry events and conferences, and has published a number of articles concerning various compliance issues.
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