The Appreciation that Inspires

Gratitude matters in business. Even more than money, a culture of genuine appreciation and gratitude inspires employees to produce stellar work. Given that employees spend most of their waking hours working, the leadership at ETM fosters a company culture that employees are proud to tell their friends and family about, where they have a genuine comradery with their colleagues and where they have abundant opportunity for professional and personal growth. Each year, the ETM leadership gathers its employees in an offsite banquet setting to show their sincere appreciation to its employees and celebrate the year’s accomplishments.

May 19, 2015 marked the Annual Company Meeting. It was held for the second year at beautiful Bowing Oaks Plantation, just blocks from the corporate headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. The two-hour event began with opening words from President and CEO, Hugh Mathews whose first order of business was to recognize the 25 new permanent employees and 10 interns hired in the last year. He then invited Shane Mason, a 26-year Navy veteran, to lead the ETM family in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Next, Scott Lockwood, an ordained minister, was invited to the podium to offer a prayer. Afterwards, getting down to the business of eating swiftly followed.

The annual company meeting is a venue for the leaders of ETM to publicly recognize the contributions of their employees and to show their heart felt appreciation. Hugh Mathews acknowledged 24 employees who met service milestones in the past year, ranging from 5 years to 25 years. Clint Blalock, Marilyn Galen, and Frank Herbert were recognized for 30 years of dedicated service. The tradition of celebrating service milestones is particularly meaningful when contrasted with the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that reveals the average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years. Approximately 70 percent of ETM employees have over 5 years of longevity.

The meeting’s transition from employee recognition to the company year-in-review and 2016-2017 outlook was equally inspiring. The health of the region and its recognition as one of the best places to live, best value for colleges, best places for veterans, best places to start a business, and the anticipated population growth for 2016, all point to a very exciting year!

Closing out the meeting, was a slide with the ETM mantra “Excellence in Product, Excellence in Service, Excellence in Business Development”.  Employees who have been with ETM for a reasonable amount of time are familiar with the phrase and can easily recite it; like a well-known idiom. But the meaning behind the expression was carefully emphasized by Hugh Mathews, who carefully articulated that the firm’s level of excellence, recognized throughout the industry, is attributed to it’s people.

As one of the newest additions to the ETM family, I am immediately aware that ETM is a unique company, with a unique culture. Culture is difficult to define. It is that mysterious word that characterizes the qualities of a work environment. In a nutshell, workplace culture is established by its leadership and becomes the norms of behavior and shared values. Often times when asked, employees will define the culture as “It just feels right”. From my vantage point, I would say it feels Excellent!

Written by: Jean Fryman

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