Investments in efficiency

August 2012 » Columns » BEYOND WORDS
Brian Bortell, P.E.

Without question, a company's success is measured by the efficiency, work ethic, and morale of its employees. At Timmons Group, a 250-person, multidisciplinary civil engineering, survey, and technology firm based in Virginia and North Carolina, we are making our focus just that.

One of our overarching strategic goals at Timmons Group is to be the employer of choice in our chosen fields. We know this will be a journey and never a destination, but we are looking for steps to take whenever we can. Firm-wide, we are continually striving to better the workplace. By improving daily life and culture for the employees, as well as providing generous benefits, we are making strides to achieve this goal.

After a survey revealed a need for larger computer monitors, management surprised every member of Timmons' production team with a new 24-inch HD monitor.

What does it mean to be an employer of choice? Our goal at Timmons Group is that current and prospective employees would rather work here than at a competing firm. By cultivating an environment centered on family values and adapting a firm-wide mantra of "work hard, play hard," we are going the extra mile to ensure that employees can truly enjoy rather than endure their days spent at work.

Last year, in an effort to increase our firm-wide communication and keep employees excited about the direction of the firm, we began hosting "Lunch with Brian," a monthly luncheon held to discuss the firm's success, goals, and finances with employees. Each meeting is followed up with a survey for employees to provide feedback and ask questions. In addition to these company-wide meetings, I am also taking small groups of employees to lunch on a regular basis seeking their feedback on the firm, its culture, and how to improve morale. This also allows employees to connect and get to know the senior leadership of the firm.

After reviewing survey results from a recent employee luncheon, I discovered a common opinion. There were numerous comments about our computer monitors, and none of them were positive. My first thought was that these individuals were kidding as it seemed to me that we had more monitors than we knew what to do with. I mean seriously, can anyone really use five monitors at one time?

This complaint about the monitors was news to me, so I decided to do a little "CSI" by talking with a handful of employees. I found out that some of our clients and partner organizations have larger monitors and that a larger monitor would help with AutoCAD, ArcView, and other applications as it allows more screen space for toolbars and the like. After this research, I met with the Timmons Group board of directors and decided to take action. The board unanimously decided that this was exactly the type of investment we needed to make toward not only becoming employer of choice, but also making us more efficient and productive.

At the February Lunch with Brian, we surprised every member of our production team with a new 24-inch HD monitor. Employees were grinning from ear to ear as they carried their new monitors from the moving truck outside to their desks. Monitor Day at Timmons Group was a complete success! Months later, it has proven to be a great step in improving the efficiency of the firm.

Timmons Group knows the goal to be employer of choice is, and will continue to be, a moving target in this economy, but we are dedicated to listening to the opinions of employees and giving our best effort to improve the daily life and culture of the firm.

Brian Bortell, P.E., is CEO of Timmons Group (www.timmons.com).


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