There are carts. And there are horses. Jeff Hargroves can tell you that understanding the proper sequencing is the key to getting where you want to go.
“We believed we could build a better company than our competitors by focusing on long-term client relationships,” says Hargroves, president of ProPharma Group in Overland Park. “We knew the best way to create those relationships would be to attract the best colleagues and put programs in place that make ProPharma an attractive place to stay. If we have the best people working for us—and they are happy—they will take care of the clients. The clients in turn will trust us with more work (repeat business), and the cycle will continue.”
Of all the things that make ProPharma Group stand out as a workplace, this one may well be a standard-setter: Every five years, each employee is given a one-month paid sabbatical. “Our sabbatical is something that many companies never had or pushed by the wayside during tough economic times,” Hargroves says. “This reward gives each colleague something to look forward to and they are encouraged to do something with the time that creates a life-changing or life-enriching experience. They typically return relaxed and focused—and starting to plan what to do with their next sabbatical.” Some other perks include a paid family vacation (or, if more appealing, a Rolex) for employees reaching the 10-year mark, and additional time off under the Road Warriors program for sales staff that have reached 100 percent of their expected billable goals. The consulting company, which serves the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical-device industries, has ridden employee satisfaction from such programming to 140 percent growth in staff over the past year—the payroll count is up to 165—with revenue growth on track for a 28 percent gain over 2011. Matching the innovation in benefits, the company also prides itself in transparency, setting corporate goals each year and making sure that those are incorporated into the functions of its respective business units, all the way down to individual employees. And it backs up that process with quarterly, company-wide teleconferences that go beyond broad goals to include financial performance.