Debbie Samsom, CEO, Back In Motion Rehab Inc.
bh IN BRIEF
Back in Motion Rehab is an exemplary company, finishing first in almost all categories ranked in the 2007 Best Workplaces list. They live their values, and attribute this standing to a consistent focus on their people, on respect and communication.
Of interest is that their benefit program only began a dozen years after BiM was established and had 50 employees on staff. An employee with cancer highlighted the need for financial protection and peace of mind. The company and its employees now recognise the importance of their health plan in supporting a great place to work.
Debbie is one of five partners who established BiM in 1993. The company now has about 80 employees in their Richmond, Surrey, Victoria, and Coquitlam clinics.
Q: Back in Motion Rehab captured the number one ranking in this year's 50 Best Workplaces list. The company scored first in 4 of the 5 key ranking criteria. How did you do this?
There is no short answer, or single thing. We start by focusing on our people. As an employer, they are our customer
The key to maintaining this relationship is respect, and lots of two-way communication. We know people have lives outside work, so we make jobs flexible. Communication allows the team environment to be constantly reinforced. We hire very carefully…job candidates have to have these qualities, and we also look for evidence of our core values. We are currently pursuing an occupational therapist from the UK. That's the distance we'll go to get the right people.
We've learned we can never communicate enough with our staff. We have come to appreciate their need for big-picture information – the company direction and priorities – so they know why we picked them and where they fit in.
Q: You've spoken about creating a "sense of community" in the company. Can you give us some examples of how you accomplish that?
We have a community within BiM, but also a focus on the community outside, whether local, provincial, or global. Team activities and lots of FUN are the way we build the BiM community. Each year, we have a team-building day that involves activities such as very "non-serious" golf tournaments, games with a "Survivor" theme, cooking events…these things are all suggested by our staff and organized by a social committee who makes proposals to the clinic directors. During our team-building day, the clinics are closed to encourage everyone to attend.
One of our staff was diagnosed with breast cancer, so for the past three years, we have had a corporate team in the Run for the Cure. BiM paid all the registration fees, and then gave each runner a $30 donation. We each need to come out of ourselves to think about what's important in the broader scheme of life.
Q: Many small companies are reportedly cutting benefits, but in 2005, you just started a benefit program. How has this affected your staff and the company?
We weren't sure we could afford a benefits program. We're quite a conservative group, and still a small company. But as growth occurred, most of our staff identified this as something they wanted. I think it has helped us attract employees; we most often hire health care professionals, who have had very good benefit plans with their former employers.
We actually started our benefits plan right after our staffer developed cancer. That made it clear to us that the protection and security needs are huge at times like that. We don't want our staff to have this uncertainty. BiM supported that employee financially because she had no LTD at that time. The benefits 'lesson' is one we learned the hard way.
Q: Do you still worry about the company's future? What keeps you awake at night?
I think people arrive and then stay because we have created a great place to work, but I also think we can do better. I wonder if we can continue to retain great people, stay competitive with salaries and benefits, pursue growth opportunities, and still make a profit.
We're keen to grow, and geography is beginning to challenge that small company feel as we expand to different communities.
Q: In the 2007 Best Workplaces ranking, an amazing 100% of your employees agreed: "Taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work". What can executives do to create this enthusiasm?
I don't know what I do! OK, I have a true open door policy, which can distract me from my to-do list, but this is invaluable. I sit in the lunchroom most days. I step in to client work on a relief basis. This keeps me connected to what we do as a company and I see things from the perspective of employees and clients.
Back in Motion Core Values
Categories: View from the Top