A Good Ear
Listening to employees, encouraging career growth
Aya Healthcare cares deeply about creating exceptional experiences for its employees and executes that vision by listening to its employees’ needs and goals.
Founded in 2001 by President and CEO Alan Braynin, Aya provides travel nursing and workforce solutions to hospitals. The company, headquartered in San Diego, Calif., counts 440 US-based corporate employees operating out of national offices in California, Michigan and Florida. In 2016, Aya Healthcare surpassed 3,000 active travelers on assignment.
“We empower our employees by encouraging career growth and implementing ideas that come from all levels of our organization,” Braynin says. “The extras like fitness and nutrition classes, meditation, and team bonding activities are appreciated, but those things are small parts of a much larger ideal. Ultimately, Aya Healthcare is a Best Staffing Firm to Work For because our employees are respected, valued and their hard work is rewarded.”
Recruiter Alex Dzurko joined the firm, in part, to get recognition for her hard work. She relocated to San Diego to escape the Boston winters, but also to further her budding recruiting career after a couple of years at a recruitment process outsourcing firm. “I realized I was good at recruiting so I wanted a position that had a commission structure and my last place was just a set salary,” she explains. “Basically, you would have to go up the corporate ladder to get any kind of incentive.”
She found a firm that offers her much more than just commissions, describing the office vibe as a “Google feel.”
“I would say the best part of Aya is working for a company that is super caring and supportive of their employees,” Dzurko says. “I have never worked for a company that is so focused on employee happiness.”
Prompted by employee suggestions, Aya keeps the kitchens fully stocked with organic produce, salads and other good food and coffees. It also offers free yoga, boot camp fitness and reiki meditation classes, happy hours, Spanish classes, nutritionist services and “lunch and learns.”
“We are constantly growing and evolving our benefits and wellness program to better suit the needs of the Aya Healthcare team and our employees lead the way in this endeavor,” Braynin says.
On the more traditional front, Aya provides comprehensive health, dental and vision insurance at no cost to employees; it also matches 4% on every 5% contributed to their 401Ks. Less traditional benefits include unlimited PTO and work-from-home options.
For example, the company allowed Dzurko and her fiancé, also an Aya employee, to work remotely as they traveled around the country.
“We lived in different Airbnbs in cities we wanted to check out, and then we would work from there,” she explains. “They let us just take off and work remotely for three months, which was just awesome.”
And a co-worker of hers is taking part in a six-month adventure through We Roam, a travel-while-working program that curates trips around the world for remote workers who want to pursue their love of travel.
However, all is not free food and yoga at Aya.
“A key differentiator regarding the way we treat internal employees at Aya is our commitment to hiring and cultivating leaders,” Braynin says. “Our leadership philosophy is grounded in day-to-day customer interaction, and my biggest concern is with encouraging leaders to listen to their employees, especially those that touch our customers most frequently. We do not see our employees as cogs in the machine; we hire people that will grow with our organization, and are looking to move up a level at least, If not more.”
Hillary Beeney, senior travel experience specialist, is an example of someone who took advantage of the professional growth opportunities at the company. She joined Aya two years ago as an entry-level receptionist and moved to her current role assisting travelers in just six months.
And she loves her job.
“When you love what you do it is not hard to come in to work every day and even consider it work,” Beeney says. “Definitely my favorite part of working for Aya is that the work that I am doing is truly something that I take joy in doing every day.”
“The nurses too make it super fun. I never have a day that is the same, or questions or concerns that come up that are really boring and tedious. Everything is new every day, and the people that work here internally make it just an awesome place to work. Everybody is like-minded and driven to do a good job and provide good customer service, so you can really trust that the job you are doing for the travelers is also being carried on by the people you work with into the different departments.”
Leadership takes an interest Beeney’s goals — professionally and personally — and helps her obtain those goals while making sure that she is doing work that is interesting to her.
“They make it a very open environment to discuss things like potential changes that we want to make and what makes things more efficient and what would make the company flow better,” she says. “We just have a really non-intimidating environment set forth by management so we have the ability to speak up and make changes as we see fit to provide the best experience for our nurses, as well as keeping everybody in our different departments happy too.”
Rapid expansion, referrals boost growth
Aya has undergone a surge in growth in the past couple of years, so much so that it had to lease additional space in a separate building to accommodate the internal staff until it can move to a larger space. But both Beeney and Dzurko laud the seamless way management has handled the expansion and both have recommended Aya to friends looking for work.
“There are a lot of referrals,” Dzurko says. “That is one of the reasons we are growing is because they do treat their employees so well we are getting a lot of referrals from a lot of experienced recruiters.”
Braynin hopes the referrals keep coming, and recognition as a best place to work can only help.
“The Staffing Industry Analysts is a leading publication covering the healthcare staffing space and being recognized as a Best Company to Work For by SIA is gratifying,” Braynin says. “It means that our efforts to create exceptional experiences for our employees are working. The award is of great benefit to us because it brings with it highly reputable external validation, letting job seekers know that Aya Healthcare is a coveted place to be.”