August 20, 2014

Studer Group Leads by Example in Improving Job Satisfaction

Company puts a priority on benchmarking employee satisfaction.

Amy Keller | 8/1/2010

Studer Group
Gulf Breeze
No. 12 / Midsized Company

When consultants from the Studer Group teach hospital and medical groups how to improve their performance, they focus on employee satisfaction — happy workers, they know, stay with the company longer, work less overtime and produce better patient outcomes. CEO Quint Studer, a former hospital administrator, tries to set a good example in the way he runs his own firm. "We have to role-model everything we're trying to teach because authenticity is a huge part of leadership."

Why I Work Here
Sara Harris
"I've never worked for an organization like this before, where everyone is encouraged to bring new ideas to the table and individual views carry a lot of weight. You can make a really big difference regardless of what role you hold. If you're in IT, you can submit ideas to improve finance."
— Sara Harris, graphic designer
For Studer, that means a steady process of benchmarking employee satisfaction — something he says he began doing when his firm had just eight employees — at a cost of about $8,000 per year.

While some might find that "a little crazy," Studer says it was important to establish the standard early. "If you don't do it when you're small, you won't do it when you get big."

Employees at Studer Group get a chance to rate each other. Each month, the consultants in the field are asked to evaluate the support services they rely on — such as the IT department, finance, human resources — and the results of those surveys are shared with the entire staff. The rankings are to ensure that the company's field staff — primarily "coaches" who go onsite to work with client organizations — have the tools and resources they need to get their jobs done.

Flexibility is highly valued. Half of the company's staff work from home. Others are allowed to telecommute on an as-needed basis. To ensure that virtual workers stay in the loop, Studer periodically records videos to share updates and keep employees informed. Monthly financial reports and other important information are available through a company intranet.

Rewards and incentives are another part of the formula. Salaried employees earn an average of $121,682, and hourly workers make about $36,594 annually. Employees also have an opportunity to earn between 10% and 40% of their salary in incentives. They can receive profit sharing based on tenure and revenue after expenses. Workers can keep tabs on their profit-sharing potential in the company's monthly financial statements.

On a quarterly basis, employees who've achieved exceptional results may be recognized with a "personalized pillar" award and $300. Other awards include "tokens of appreciation," a peer-to-peer form of recognition that can be redeemed for small cash gifts or gift cards, and the annual "flame award," which is given once a year to employees who've delivered "sustained results" and who "role-model behavioral standards."

Studer says he learned many of his basic principles years ago when he worked as a special education teacher. For instance, employees need to hear three compliments to every one criticism. "I'm a big believer in the idea that what gets recognized gets repeated."

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