At Desautel Hege, workforce flexibility has always been an important value. Our founder, Jim Desautel, knew the importance of work-life balance, particularly ensuring one had time for an appropriate amount of golf. All kidding aside, we work in a demanding business and have high expectations of all our team members. Our work often includes evening and weekend commitments and periods of converging deadlines. We have always felt strongly about providing our team with flexibility, both because it’s the right thing to do for our people AND because it makes good business sense.
Our team members have full lives, with families, interests, volunteer commitments, hobbies and passions outside the workplace. We believe that supporting them in their ability to balance these things with their jobs is good for our company—it creates satisfied employees, happy clients and a more productive workplace. Over the years we have developed programs ranging from flex-time to modified work weeks, we have created training and continuing education programs, supported team member’s pursuit of degrees and professional credentials and have worked to create a family-friendly and life-friendly work place.
We also try to have fun together….whether that means playing a little foosball at the end of the day, or celebrating everyone’s birthday….our people are our greatest asset and we believe investing in them and supporting them is job one.
Michelle Hege, M.S., APR
Desautel Hege Communications
Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS) understands that employees are one of its greatest assets. INHS works with employees to find the work hours that best suit their needs throughout the organization. The company allows employees to be flexible by allowing them to work from home using telecommuting and permitting unconventional work schedules when available. In recognizing the dynamics of the individual, INHS also works to create an environment where employees can balance a personal life and family while maintaining business objectives at work. With these business practices, employee morale and work productivity has increased.
Jennifer Polello, a health education manager for INHS, commented on her experience with workplace flexibility. Jen uses a combination of telecommuting and flextime in her position. “I’m a morning person,” Pollelo said. “I like to come in early, when I can get a lot done, and I can leave here before traffic gets bad.” Jennifer explained that INHS’ flexibility was one of the reasons she accepted her job.
The complete effort and participation of employees allowed INHS to apply for the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility. A recipient of the award, INHS is distinguished as a leading practitioner of workplace flexibility in Spokane and across the nation. Highlighted by several publications for workplace flexibility and effectiveness, INHS has become a great example for all businesses pursuing worker flexibility practices. Staci Franz, human resources generalist for INHS, recognizes how INHS employees are grateful for this distinction, “We have heard employees express appreciation for participating and receiving the Sloan Award. They are excited to be included in this recognition and greatly value their role at INHS.”
Director of Communications & Marketing
Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS)
First I would like to commend GSI on how well the entire trip was planned and delivered. From the very beginning things ran on time; everything from buses to the legislative meetings. The Regional Legislative Fly-in included two days filled with the opportunity for business owners, local government, and higher education to be in front of our elected officials. As a small business member, the issues addressed at the state level directly affect my business. The trip provided an invaluable opportunity for me to share and speak about the issues that concern my business. This was also a great time to meet with other community members and make new contacts. I encourage all business owners to participate in some way - they will realize how government decisions can directly affect them. Main issues on the agenda for the trip included business climate, transportation, economic development, work force, education and cultural opportunities. I am looking forward to next years trip!
Rory L. Nay
Proto Technologies, Inc.
Who are these people, anyways? How did they get to the Spokane region?
Why do they stay?
By: Dawn Picken
Marketing Director, Greater Spokane Inc.
Brian Forth, President, SiteCrafting
I pulled Brian aside after a Greater Spokane Incorporated
breakfast at Northern Quest’s new hotel. In part, the Q&A was an excuse to enjoy that new-hotel smell and sit before the massive stone fireplace in the lobby. That’s where we talked fishing, beer making, and about Brian’s website development company. http://www.sitecrafting.com/ More about the fishing and beer later. First:
It Started in Grade School
Brian was an elementary school teacher in Tacoma in the mid-nineties when students’ parents started querying him about the Internet. Brian said, “Their trust allowed me to help… It’s like buying your first car. You don’t know the right questions to ask.” Brian left teaching and founded SiteCrafting in 2001. The company is based in Tacoma, where 24 techies design and support websites and applications. Last year, SiteCrafting expanded into Spokane, where three web developers (as they say on their own site), “convert caffeine to code…”
Brian graduated from Gonzaga University, where he played baseball, majored in Philosophy and Theology and minored in home brewing (the last part is a joke). He has family here and said he’d always wanted to return, or at least, return with his company (Brian lives in Olympia and travels frequently to Spokane). He said, “I saw a big opportunity in a niche where you don’t see a lot of competition…And personally, I think Spokane is a special place to be. There’s a high quality of life for my employees and their families.”
On Expanding During a Recession
“It’s been challenging,” Brian said. “We had to create our own reality where we weren’t going to sit back and wait. It’s like snow skiing. We couldn’t wait for the hill to come to us. The decision to expand to Spokane was huge. If we’d have waited until after the economy turned around, it would’ve be too late.” And Brian said the team is learning from mistakes, like not having enough access to cash, which slowed hiring. SiteCrafting found a new local banker willing to lend more money. “You can’t run a company like ours like a lemonade stand,” Brian said. “You may have a big contract with a national firm that pays out over a year. We needed financing to keep up with growth.” So far, SiteCrafting has developed websites locally for KSPS-TV, Pacinian, the City of Spokane and CleenNW. The company also awards “Gear Grants,” providing free web design for nonprofits. They’ve awarded the initial Spokane Gear Grant to Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery.
Best Business Advice
Brian said he first was indoctrinated into the philosophy of “active service,” while working at the Walt Disney Company. “Active service means always answering with a yes,” said Brian. “The key is to empower employees. If I have a dissatisfied customer, I never want them to say, ‘I don’t know if I can help….I have to ask Brian.’ I’d rather they take care of Mr. Smith today and tell me later, ‘I gave him 3 months of free service.’ Then I’d ask if that were enough.”
Home Brewing & Fly Fishing
Spend a nanosecond reading Brian’s tweets on Twitter (his handle is brainfroth, a scrambling of his name) and you’ll see his universe includes much more than www’s and hyperlinks. He has a wife, three kids, a home brewing habit he picked up while at Gonzaga (“I was legal,” he said. “We were just thinking it would save money.”) And Brian makes an annual pilgrimage to Alaska to fly-fish (favorite movie: “A River Runs Through it.”). It’s the kind of work-life balance he encourages for employees, too, which may be why SiteCrafting won a “Top Place to Work” award in 2008.
Get Out There and Get Involved
Brian joined GSI after the organization helped him expand SiteCrafting to Spokane. He wants his staff to become more involved in GSI’s networking events, workshops and seminars: “You get out of it what you put into it,” he said. He also encourages mentorships: “Especially for an early business owner, you think you’re the only person who’s had issues like cash flow problems. It’s like a kid with a pimple thinking he’s the only one… It can be a lonely place running a business. You have to be the rock.”
Thankfully, the Inland Northwest is home to a diverse rock pile of people willing to share stories, ideas and the occasional home brew.
Whose story would you like share? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org