A best place to work


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Fewer than 50 Sacramento area companies and organizations are named each year as outstanding places to work by the Sacramento Business Journal. This year, Yolo Hospice is among this prestigious group of employers.

With a workforce of 80 people, Yolo Hospice was one of just two Yolo County organizations honored this past Thursday at the Best Places to Work awards luncheon at the Crown Plaza in Sacramento. The winning companies were selected in conjunction with Quantum Workplace, a market research company that anonymously solicits surveys from employees.

In order to qualify, a minimum number of employees (40 percent) needed to participate in the survey, and companies are required to have operations in El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento or Yolo counties. Only the top finalists in each category are published.

Employees at winning companies cited varying reasons for favoring their workplace, including health-care benefits, flexible work schedules, competitive wages, feeling valued and respected, access to professional development opportunities, or working in a culture of teamwork and camaraderie.

Across California, employee perks vary greatly. Google provides free meals for its workforce. Saleforce.com offers treadmill desks. Others provide free health care or college tuition. However, multiple studies, including a recent one from the Great Place to Work Institute, indicate that the foundation of a great workplace lies in a culture of trust and engagement.

According to the institute, the consulting firm behind Fortune magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list, building a culture that is intentional and people-centric is what matters most. Typically, these are companies that view their people not as employees who can be satisfied with the right compensation package, but as colleagues who are invested in the business or mission of the organization.

A recent and random poll of Yolo Hospice employees supports the concept that happy employees are ones who both trust their managers and feel trusted in return. Elizabeth Mohrherr, a palliative care social worker who interned for a year before signing on as an employee in March, recently described the organization as, “a loving, friendly and inclusive environment.”

She says, “Even though team members might have occasional arguments or disagreements, discourse is always highly professional and respectful. It’s safe to engage in debate.”

Mohrherr’s colleague, Eric lpsen, agrees. “The work environment here is collegial,” he says. Ipsen, a graduate of the John Hopkins School of Nursing and a certified hospice and palliative care nurse, moved to the area from Oakland specifically to work at Yolo Hospice.

More tenured employees like Laura Reyes share experiences similar to those expressed by newer staff. Reyes has worked at Yolo Hospice for 15 years. Her voice is the one to first greet callers on the telephone who are searching for support, answers to questions or other types of assistance. “I work with the best, wackiest and biggest-hearted people in the world,” Reyes says. “I don’t think I could find this work culture anywhere else. The reason I stay is because of the people.”

Like Reyes, Gwendolyn Kaltoft has worked at Yolo Hospice for 15 years. As the organization’s chief operations and compliance officer, she says, “During my time here, I have continued to grow personally and professionally. I am always excited about the opportunities we have, as a team, to care for families and for those they love.”

According to Judy Ravarra, human resources director, Yolo Hospice’s employee retention rate is among the highest in the industry. Year-to-date staff turnover is less than 3 percent. It was as low as 1.5 percent during August and September.

According to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice Report, the average turnover rate among nearly 800 surveyed hospices is consistently around 20 percent. The report also revealed that the average percent of employee health insurance paid by agencies ranges between 68 and 81 percent. Yolo Hospice covers 90 percent of health insurance costs for eligible employees.

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