All4 Stirs an Entrepreneurial Spirit in Its Employees
All4 is a Pennsylvania-based, nationally recognized consulting company shaping environmental responsibility and creating distinction for clients, employees and partners. Their specialty is air quality consulting services; primarily they assist their clients with complex air permitting, modeling, continuous monitoring and regulation compliance.
All4 has benefitted greatly from leadership's conscious effort to make the spirit of entrepreneurship a visceral thread that runs through their entire 28-person workforce. For example, managers other than the CEO own the majority (75 percent) of the company. These managers take virtually every opportunity when communicating with their staff to solicit and, if possible, implement new business ideas.
One of these ideas, as their Operations Manager and seven-year employee Brandie Moroskie shared with Winning Workplaces, turned into a new, revenue-generating initiative around greenhouse gas actions. "It was an employee's idea and our leadership went with it," she says.
Bottom-up business improvement efforts like this stood out to our award's panel of judges because they've made a real impact on All4's bottom line: while the Great Recession led to a 39 percent decline in base business in 2009 (typical for their industry), this was offset by a 37 percent gain in new business. All4 ended the year increasing market share in a down economy, adding over 50 new clients.
What can other small companies do to achieve a similar resiliency in tough times, as a precursor to stronger growth than their competitors in better times? Take note of these two employee development practices the company uses:
- New hires take part in an orientation program and a year-long, on-site interactive air quality training program. All employees routinely access a wide array of technical training, building strong capabilities.
- For staff in the beginning of their careers, All4 employs an executive coach who works to develop the "soft skills" necessary to be an effective consultant. This exposes them to the qualities, communication skills and level of accountability, responsibility and ownership reflective of a leader.
"I've been treated as an equal even though I didn't know anything when I started," says Project Scientist Glenn Watson, who has been with All4 for almost four years. "Our leaders had an interest in what I had to say right off the bat."
In addition, leaders regularly hold "best in class" meetings where suggestions for organizational improvement are brainstormed and from which a few are put in place each year; several have helped shape benefits offerings that are highly valued by the workforce. These include 100 percent medical insurance coverage for both employees and dependents, and annual tuition reimbursement of $2,500 per employee.
This, in turn, has kept productivity and commitment high, increased employee tenures to an average of five years, and reduced turnover to a low 6 percent.
"Because of this brainstorming session, we now have a dry cleaning service and on-site massage, and extra office space we once had is now an exercise room," says Project Manager Cara Fox, another four-year employee.
Employees also have – and the company ultimately benefits from – flexible work schedules. "The leaders are willing to give time off, no questions asked," says Moroskie. "They want to make sure you're taken care of outside of work as well as inside."
All4 also benefits from treating its people well when it comes to employee raves. As many of our other small-workplace honorees know, these are often the basis for some of the highest-quality referrals to fill future roles.
"All4 is the kind of place I talk about with family and friends," says Watson. "I like to tell about all they do for us. Usually the listener is flabbergasted!"
This is welcome feedback for leaders, as they have an ambitious set of long-term strategic goals for the organization, including opening several regional offices, developing new revenue streams by expanding their current product line and achieving $6 million in sales by 2014.
All4 appears well poised to meet these goals, as the economy improves and as their workers continue to be challenged and rewarded for their ingenuity.
"I like working for small businesses where most employees wear more than one hat," says Fox. "At All4, everyone has another hat. I like the variety that comes with that and the learning process."
Company: All4 Inc.
Web site: www.all4inc.biz
Industry: Air quality consulting services
Location: Kimberton, PA
Number of Employees: 28
Sales: $3.4 million