A lot of firms say they have a great culture, but for that to be true, a firm must be intentional about implementing its core set of values.
At Mead & Hunt, we say we are an “exceptional” company with a unique culture. Many firms probably feel this way about their own organizations, so what makes Mead & Hunt different? And how have we maintained our culture considering our geographic and population growth? What holds it all together? Several ingredients contribute to our uniqueness. Each item alone isn’t exclusive to our organization but combining them results in Mead & Hunt.
Our employees share a set of values, principles we believe in. Take care of people. Do the right thing. Do what makes sense. Our formal list of values is longer, but those three items capture the gist of it. Those who share these values typically stay at Mead & Hunt a long time. Those who don’t often leave before spending much of their career here. Our values are evident at every Mead & Hunt office. We foster this by encouraging employees and leaders to visit other offices. This promotes and emphasizes cultural integration throughout the company.
Mead & Hunt’s emphasis on taking care of employees has resulted in a multi-faceted human resources department. Our HR team is comprised of benefits specialists, learning and development coordinators, recruiting and hiring staff, and internal communications experts. Our philosophy is to provide whatever we can to employees. Employees can then give full attention to the work they are good at and take care of our clients’ needs. This results in high client satisfaction. Our chief human resources officer reports to the highest position in the organization, the chief executive officer. I know companies whose HR department reports to the chief financial officer or the chief operations officer. To us, that sends a message that finance and operations are emphasized more than employees.
To fully invest in employees, Mead & Hunt doesn’t have a training budget. There’s no maximum annual dollar amount per employee. If someone needs training, they need training! Mead & Hunt does what makes sense in each situation. For example, continuing education is required for licensure. It doesn’t make sense to tell someone they cannot take training needed for a license because they exhausted their annual training budget. Mead & Hunt develops and organizes an annual internal conference for project managers and/or technical staff. This two-day learning opportunity brings together 200 to 300 employees. We originally intended it for training, and it is. However, the best benefit employees receive (they tell us this) is the in-person interaction between employees from other locations and business units.
Mead & Hunt takes onboarding very seriously. Employee engagement is “make or break” within the first six months. It’s imperative to get the employee emotionally invested in the organization. Mead & Hunt brings every new employee, regardless of role or position, to the Madison-area office for orientation. Our CEO, CHRO, president, and others discuss culture, history, how we do business, and several other topics. Each department has a program for taking care of new employees. Each employee is paired with a “buddy” to help them maneuver through the system for their first year.
HR is involved at the earliest stages of all acquisitions Mead & Hunt undertakes. HR crafts a strategy for onboarding employees with minimal turmoil and stress. Orientation is conducted at the new location rather than in Madison. We go to them. During the next several months, the HR team and others from Mead & Hunt visit the new employees to continue the integration. We encourage our new teammates to visit other offices to meet and interact with employees and learn about disciplines they might not otherwise encounter.
Mead & Hunt Cares is an essential program that demonstrates doing the right thing and taking care of people. Employees have many ways to participate. Mead & Hunt provides paid time (separate from vacation) to volunteer. We form teams to raise money for charity. A grant program allows employees a chance to delve into a project that gives back to the community. Mead & Hunt matches employee donations to STEM programs and charities. We sponsor officewide events such as food drives, school supply drives, and helping families in need.
The lack of hierarchy at Mead & Hunt is also different. We all have a title and a role, but nobody is above doing a task someone else is expected to do. “That’s not my job” does not fly at our company. If we can help a co-worker, we should – or at least point them in the right direction. Mead & Hunt has no profit centers. This enables us to freely share work and resources across offices and departments. I’ve heard of companies whose own profit centers compete for a project or a client. Why compete against yourself when there’s already enough competition in the market?
As you’ve probably figured out, I could go on and on about the ingredients that, when combined, make Mead & Hunt an exceptional company. I haven’t covered them all, such as employee ownership or fun events we do together. Many things that are worthwhile and successful on their own, when aggregated, are greater than the sum of their individual parts. This creates an even better outcome. That is Mead & Hunt – exceptional.
Wendy Culver is Mead & Hunt’s chief human resources officer. She has been with the company for more than 20 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.