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Keeping the good employees going

January 1st, 2017

A how-to from some local companies recognized for retaining the best

By Whitney Wright | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly

Every company wants the best talent on its side, and with more people in the workforce now than ever before, finding those key hires is vital to a company’s success.

The problem for many businesses is discovering a way to keep those valuable employees.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce makes a point to recognize phenomenal work places and annually releases its Best Places to Work in Indiana Top 100 Companies. Three of the companies on the two most recent lists include OrthoPediatrics and Lakeland Rehabilitation and Health, both in Kosciusko County, and Mike’s Car Wash, in Allen County.

Here is a list of the top seven methods in these companies’ game plans:

1. Build a relationship

OrthoPediatrics’ CEO Mark Throdahl hosts coffee chats with employees from all levels, providing the chance for employees to ask questions and pick his brain.

Employees of both Lakeland and OrthoPediatrics have the chance to acquire mentors within the company to ask questions and get advice.

Mike’s Car Wash has two themes that have dominated its company for more than seven decades: “The customer is the boss,” and, more important for employee relations, “Treat your team members like family.”

2. Create opportunities

OrthoPediatrics financially supports its employees’ schooling and has a small library with books on medicine and business.

Lakeland and Mike’s Car Wash both offer tuition reimbursement and training programs that encourage advancement within the company and for any skills for which an employee feels subpar.

3. Provide communication channels

The office at OrthoPediatrics is set up so everyone sits in the same area, even the CEO. The company also requires each employee to gather for a monthly “town meeting” to discuss company news.

It recently hosted a series of “Lunch and Learns,” allowing each department to educate other employees on what occurs on typical day in that department.

4. Outline expectations and measure performance

Lakeland hosts a personal orientation process that allows employers to tell new employees their expectations and vice versa, said Nikki Mcmillan, executive director of Lakeland.

Mike’s training program – often compared to the customer service program at the Disney Institute – is both extensive and informative. Each employee partakes, including the teenagers working their first jobs and senior-level members. Mike’s also has surveys available for managers to anonymously provide feedback to other managers, including suggestions and critiques.

5. Provide purpose

“Everyone is captain, everyone is crew,” is the CEO’s mantra at OrthoPediatrics. This means everyone has the opportunity to be a leader and everyone has the opportunity to take a back seat, said Mallory Trusty, a human resources representative.

The company also encourages its employees to work on projects that interest them, even if it is not in the respective department, like the company’s recent expansion into Japan.

6. Compete with wages, benefits, perks

OrthoPediatrics hosts a monthly employee event, such as a happy hour or football tailgate, and throws parties for events like birthdays and baby showers, alongside competitive pay and health benefits.

Lakeland offers scholarships for its employees and their dependents, health benefits and a “wellness rate,” which can qualify employees for nearly free health care.

Mike’s Car Wash recently revamped its wage structure, provides a competitive benefits package, conducts group outings and has a company-wide wellness program.

7. Keep up the good work

All three of the companies intend to keep their good reputations among their employees and in the eyes of the state, through persistence in competitive benefits and/or wages and increasing training resources and opportunities.

Other companies hoping to increase employee retention, and consequently the company’s success, can look for ways to implement some of these techniques, many of which are doable on any company’s budget.

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