In November 2008, my book Road to Respect: Path to Profit was in the final design stages. I had chosen five Employers of Choice to illustrate the main theme of the book – that a strategically built values-based culture with respect as a core value was simply a business imperative for success in today’s marketplace.
It never occurred to me, as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, to start looking for my heart’s desire, in this case those Employers of Choice, in my own backyard. However, when I heard about the 2008 B(ritish)C(Columbia) Business Best Companies survey, I thought I would attend the awards banquet to learn how local companies compared to those I had chosen to feature in Road to Respect. Not surprisingly, much of what I heard that evening from the winning companies reflected what I know to be true – treat your employees with respect, let them know they are valued, support them to be successful and they will produce the superior business results you are after.
I was fortunate that evening to be seated at a table with the team from Nurse Next Door, one of the Best Companies nominees, including co-founders Ken Sim and John DeHart. Nurse Next Door came in 8th in 2008. 2009 they moved up to number 1 and were named the top employer in BC for firms with over 100 employees.
Nurse Next Door offers elderly home health care services across Canada. Their business has been growing rapidly, and expansion plans include opening US franchises in the near future. You may not have long to wait to experience precisely what is making Nurse Next Door so successful up here north of the 49th parallel.
I had the opportunity last month to sit down with John DeHart and learn more about what propelled Nurse Next Door to the number one spot as BC’s Top Employer. No doubt this is a company that is getting a lot of things right, and when I say right, I mean creating a respectful workplace culture where employees simply love to work. While the average turnover among field workers in their industry is 70%, at Nurse Next Door it is a mere 7%. At their corporate “heart quarters”, employee turnover is a minimal 1%.
When I asked Ellen DuBellay, VP learning and development at Four Seasons hotels and resorts about hiring practices within their Golden Rule culture, her answer was short and succinct. “We hire for attitude and train for skill. We are always looking for someone who is nice.” Not surprisingly, I heard a similar theme expressed when I asked that question of Nurse Next Door’s John DeHart. “You can train someone for skill. You can’t train someone to be aligned with your core values. Our entire hiring process is structured around our core values. For us, it is the golden rule. When you have your core values alive in your company, they attract the right people, and they repel the wrong people. Values are like honey to bees.”
Nurse Next Door, like the Employers of Choice I feature in Road to Respect is truly a values driven company. The values form the basis for every business decision and every business practice. One critical distinction however, is that at Nurse Next Door, like Zappos, another very successful values driven company I featured in this blog last year , respect is not explicitly included in their core values. And yet the culture I heard described embraces and models respectful practices.
I asked John DeHart to help me understand how ethical values like respect and integrity fit within Nurse Next Door’s overall culture. His answer was short and to the point. “I look at integrity and respect as get in the game core values. As a company, if you are hiring someone that does not have integrity, you should be giving them a pink slip. No one should be hiring anyone without integrity or who does not want to demonstrate respect. Really it doesn’t matter what your core values are. If you are living your core values, that is integrity, that is respect.”
I couldn’t agree more. How about you?
Hear the complete 37 minute interview with Nurse Next Door founder John DeHart. Please be patient. It may take a few minutes for the page to load due to the size of the file.