Employees at CHG Healthcare treat each other like family, no matter how long they’ve been with the company. Just ask Kathleen Williams, a credentialing specialist who joined the company in November 2015. Her husband subsequently was diagnosed with cancer and needed treatment at a facility that required travel. CHG employees rallied and donated some of their own PTO to her so she could be with her husband and not lose her pay. Another employee donated his personal air miles to buy the couple’s airline fees. All for an employee who had been with the company for less than three months.

That’s the culture of CHG. They take care of each other. “It happens organically,” says CEO Scott Beck. ‘It’s just our culture of caring; it really does feel like a family.”

CHG Healthcare was founded by a physician in 1979 to serve the rural areas in the west. Today, the company places physicians nationwide in any size area. It has approximately 2,100 employees working in seven offices in six states.

Being a Best Staffing Firm to Work for comes naturally to CHG, with this year being its sixth appearance on the list. “It all springs from the belief that our people are the most important asset,” Beck says. In fact, that is one of the company’s core values: putting people first. It’s about building an environment they’re attracted to initially and makes them want to stay and grow their career and refer their friends and family members, Beck says.

Communication is also a big factor in the company’s success. Beck just completed the CHG Road Show, where over the course of a month he makes his way to each office to give an hour-long pep rally/presentation highlighting the prior year’s achievements and future plans. They celebrate work anniversaries and honor top performers as well as employees who have made a difference in their communities.

Investing the time to plan and go on this office tour is “one of the things that I personally do to say, ‘Look, you’re important to me,’” Beck says.

Culture of Trust

The rest of the leadership makes communications a priority as well, creating an atmosphere that makes employees feel safe. “My leader is my biggest champion here,” says Charese Jamison, a sales representative who has been with CHG for three years. “He has a true open door policy. I don’t have to be afraid of him. I can ask him anything and he’ll give it to me straight and that’s not something that I really experienced at my previous two companies.” All of this adds up to employees who are engaged and who want to share that experience with their family or friends, Beck says. “The thing I’m most proud of is that 70% of the employees that we hire … come from referrals from friends or family. The people that are working here feel so engaged and positive about their experience that they’re telling their siblings and their parents and their friends about it, which we think is outstanding.”

Management also listens and takes action based on employee feedback. For example, based on employee suggestions, CHG established health clinics in each of its offices, available to employees and their families at no cost to them. “I can bring my kids knowing they have an ear infection and not have to pay a copay,” says Julyn Terry, a senior lead learning and development manager with CompHealth Locum Tenens who has been with the company for 20 years. The company also began to match 401(K) contributions based on employee feedback.

“We just have this open kind of transparent dialogue with people and they’ll … tell us how they feel about things and we listen,” Beck says. “We can’t make every single change, but I think we’ve demonstrated a willingness to listen that has helped build a level of trust in our company that we treasure very dearly.”

CHG Material

What does it take to become a CHG employee? First and foremost, they’re looking for culture fit, people who are positive, upbeat and enthusiastic. People and communication skills are also critical, because “we’re not building rockets. We can teach people how to do almost anything that we do,” Beck says. “We’re looking for how people work with one another. If they have a good sense of humor, if they have compassion and commitment.”

And as much as leadership is open to feedback from employees, they expect that same openness from their staff. “We actually tell our new hires that if you don’t like feedback, this might not be the culture for you because we’re going to give it to you, good, bad and constructive,” Terry says. But it’s not done in a vacuum. CHG also believes heavily in employee development, which is Terry’s job. “The leaders wanted me to succeed in every role that I’ve been in and have helped me and have provided resources for me to succeed,” she says. “Now I can give back to those employees and leaders and help them develop and reach the goals that they want to, as well.”

Giving Back

New this year is a trip for those making a difference. For the first time, the company is hosting a charitable trip. Four employees who have made the biggest difference in their communities will join Beck and other executives on a trip to Kenya this summer, where they will help build a community medical facility — and take the opportunity to go on a safari. Jamison was chosen to participate based on a foundation she started that helps support young women who have faced abuse. She values the opportunity CHG gives for employees to volunteer, by providing eight hours off for such work each year. “I didn’t set out to do any of the things that I do to get an award, but I feel really blessed to be part of a company that recognizes that,” she says.

Employees value the simple fact that their own jobs make a significant difference in the lives of others, whether it’s cases like Williams or placing the physicians who provide medical care to millions of people.

“When we ask people at 30 days, “How’s it going? Tell us what you like about your job.” We never hear people talk about the benefits, they always talk about the relationships that they’re building and how energetic and supportive the environment is. And … how they’re making a difference in somebody’s life by being a part of this company,” Beck says.

Happy Employees

Aside from the health clinics and 401(k) matching, CHG awards top performers via an annual trip, this year to Mexico. But that’s not all. There’s also employee appreciation week, a fun-filled week of games like Bingo, raffle for gift cards or movie tickets, a food market, even free massages. “It’s just a fun week where you truly feel like the company cares for you,” Terry says.

The end result is an employee who feels valued and passes that feeling along to clients and the physicians. Being a happy employee, well taken care of, “allows me to take very good care of my physicians.” Jamison says. “It allows me to be open and honest in all of my communications. It allows me to be vulnerable to them and say, ‘Hey, you’ve just gotten off an assignment with me; can you think of anything I could’ve done a little bit better?’”