Company Culture Matters!
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs just in August of last year. That number hasn’t been slowing down, as “the great resignation” continues to pose issues in hiring and retention in 2022. It’s happening for a few reasons, according to experts: changes in workplace expectations and generational mindsets, an increase in remote work roles, a competitive job market and economic forces.
This, luckily, has not been a problem for APPROVE. That comes down to our company culture: one that supports employees’ interests and growth, creates excellent work conditions and provides critical support in their daily lives. It’s a culture that APPROVE calls “happy work.”
CASE STUDY: Mike C.
Mike Casella is APPROVE’s sales operations analyst. His relationship with the company started as an internship in 2017, and he’s been here ever since.
While in college at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, he was initially interested in marketing and strategy but the experience at APPROVE prompted him to expand his skillset into business and data analytics after seeing how data powers the company and its financing solutions.
Now, he builds predictive models on the likelihood of an application being approved and creates data dashboards that help drive decisions. “It’s really motivating to create these tools,” he said, because they are used to power the entire team, and because he gets to problem-solve in real time.
“There’s a lot of creative freedom in data analytics,” he said. “I’m given a task but given the freedom to figure out the best way to get it done. I appreciate that, and the opportunity to learn every day. It feels like an investment in myself, how much I’ve learned and gained here.”
Casella said he has remained with the company because he loves what he does and the people he gets to work with. While his friends who work elsewhere complain about having to go to work, he said he doesn’t feel that way.
The team members have become very close friends and spend time socially, too. That camaraderie translates into doing good work, being responsive to one another and to customers.
It also helps that APPROVE is located in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina, near the water where Casella’s team often walks and talks through ideas outside.
“Having the beach here, it’s hard to overrate how important that is,” Casella said.
He’s part of APPROVE’s award-winning beach volleyball team which plays on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s at Capt’n Bills here in Wilmington. It’s a tradition that has spanned years and started with APPROVE’s CEO Robert Preville long before he founded the company.
HOW OUR CULTURE EVOLVED
The idea of having a relaxed, laid-back environment started as a conscious choice by Preville and his leadership team. That team places a high value on quality of life and wanted to support that same idea for employees. Our CEO’s motto: “Work to live,” not “Live to Work.”
“We talked a lot about creating a work atmosphere in which our team members sincerely enjoy coming to work, which I think we’ve done quite successfully,” said Chief Marketing Officer Robin Salter, who has been instrumental in developing APPROVE’s culture from the beginning. “But the culture has evolved to really take on a life of its own. When non-employees come to our office for a visit, they all notice the vibe in the office--it’s really tangible and palpable.”
The office space reflects those “happy work” ideals. There’s a ping pong table available to work and play at the same time. Employees can bring dogs and chief technology officer Wellington Souza’s pet Dori, visits regularly.
Kids visit. The team goes out after work. They also enjoy some fun events and perks such as:
- On Friday’s APPROVE has Beer-Thirty. At 3:30 p.m. local craft beer flows from the office “kegerator.”
- A laid-back, beachy vibe. You can wear flip flops here and when the waves are good, impromptu “board meetings” are common for the multiple surfers on the staff.
- Everyone has a free membership to a fitness center a block from the office.
- A legendary holiday party in December that includes significant others, complete with silly awards called KWIPPIES.
- An Annual Summer Beach Bash and Annual offshore fishing trip.
Salter summed up the philosophy of how “happy work” translates to real results: “Our people enjoy their work and they take pride in growing our company. We don’t have to motivate our sales team to acquire new customers, they genuinely like helping businesses make more sales.”