Aspen works hard to recruit a diverse workforce, 56% of which is female including one-third of the leadership, while the company seeks out people of color through diversity groups on LinkedIn and other social media outlets, as well as minority-oriented subgroups through industry organizations such as the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Schueller says.
Aspen offers an average salary of $130,000 for exempt employees, which the company considers “higher than average” if not necessarily top of the line for its field, and Schueller adds that the company provides a quarterly performance bonus incentive as well as “creative benefits” when employees hit milestone anniversaries with the company: At three years, they receive a $1,000 vacation bonus, while at five years, they become eligible for a four-week sabbatical.
The vacation bonus is an incentive for staffers to take time off and enjoy it, she says, while the sabbatical is sometimes used for professional educational opportunities, and other times for travel—or, for those who spend much of their work life on the road, a break from travel.
While Aspen has a main office in the Denver area, most of the operations staff telecommutes, Schueller says, and the company works with clients to enable some traveling consultants to stay home instead of travel perhaps one week a month. “When the opportunity fits the client situation … we work to provide some flexibility,” she says.
The company has developed a “Culture Club” that identifies issues of concern and implements programs to address them based on feedback from an annual culture survey; this year, for example, the club has focused on helping employees manage their work-life balance and keeping a sense of connectedness toward one another, since they so rarely cross paths, at least physically, Cannon says.
The impact of that has included “gentle nudging to participate in wellness (programs), keeping it fun but also build camaraderie that peaks at the annual retreat,” she says. “They're sharing things at the professional level but also keeping it fun and exciting.” The company gives out awards at the annual retreat for the most creative ideas, Cannon adds.
Ultimately, Schueller says that what keeps Aspen a “best place to work” is its focus on core values. Herman summarizes those values as first, the focus on clients' needs, and then “how do we best organize and best educate our team to be able to serve our clients,” he says. “With respect to that, it's having enough structure where individuals understand how to deliver service.”
“A lot of organizations talk about core values, but they don't actually live them,” Schueller says. “What I've seen at Aspen is that this is an organization that lives and breathes core values. We annually give out awards for each of those core values. It's really ingrained in the fabric of our culture.”
Living and breathing those core values “boils down to respect for each other and respect for our clients,” Cannon says. “You'll see it exemplified at all levels of our organization.”
Ed Finkel is a freelance writer based in Evanston, Ill.