Nonprofit Company Winners

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First Place: MOM KNOWS BEST

Some may be surprised to learn that the leadership strategy behind Valley Medical Center—which serves a population of nearly 600,000 and employs close to 3,000 people—originated with a receptionist at a hat factory in St. Louis.

The receptionist was the mother of Rich Roodman, Valley Medical Center’s CEO, who has built his career around kindness.

“My mother had a lot of different bosses—those who were nice and who valued folks, and those who were a pain in the butt,” says Roodman, who adds that his mother came to appreciate the nice bosses and would work hard to please them. The not-so-nice bosses? Let’s just say they might find themselves waiting a little longer for their requests.

“It’s a lesson my mom taught me,” says Roodman. “Being nice to people is a core value.”

Founded as Valley General in 1947, Valley Medical Center has experienced tremendous growth, especially in the past seven years. A bond levy passed in 2003 funded a $200 million construction program that expanded the hospital’s birth and surgery centers, and added a new seven-story emergency services tower. The comprehensive community hospital main campus sits on 45 acres in Renton, and the center oversees 23 owned and operated clinics.

Keeping the lines of communication open among all levels of employees has been a focus at VMC. Employees hear about upcoming company events, policy changes and construction updates through direct mail to their homes and emails to their workstations, and over the airwaves via big-screen TVs throughout the hospital and its clinics. Three or four times a year, Roodman and COO Paul Hayes host a live forum at which employees can learn about hospital goals and new services, and also ask questions directly.

“Folks enjoy getting to have some face time with the folks in the corner offices,” Roodman says. —S.B.C.

Second Place: Job Satisfaction

Spokane’s Career Path Services provides free job-placement assistance to both job seekers and employers. So it’s no surprise that the organization, which is funded entirely by local, state and federal grants, knows how to treat employees well. Its workers receive an exceedingly generous simplified employee pension plan, two annual retreats and a compressed four-day work week. A multidude of employee-wellness programs—including entering a team in the annual Bloomsday 12-kilometer run—makes for a happy, healthy workforce. —N.H.

Third Place: IT'S A THREE PEAT

With 10 locations and 150 providers in the greater Seattle area, Pacific Medical Centers is one of the region’s largest health-care networks. It’s also one of the best employers in the industry. PacMed has placed in the top three in this category for three consecutive years. The company’s workers rave about the many continuing education opportunities and tuition reimbursement provided by the organization, the unusually open lines of communication between employees at all levels and the numerous charitable projects available to employees. —N.H.

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Bright Idea: Labor Saver

Forget email. Shyft Technologies makes shift swapping easy.
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New legislation requiring Seattle businesses with 500 or more employees to schedule workers’ hourly shifts two weeks in advance will be a boon to some, but it could complicate the lives of many workers and employers.

Seattle startup Shyft Technologies has created a free smartphone app that simplifies the tangled dance of schedule shuffling by making it easier for employees to swap shifts and for bosses to get shifts covered on short notice. 

The app notifies all staffers automatically when open shifts are posted. Swaps can be approved right on the app. By matching in real time the hours when workers are available with the hours employees need work done, the app creates a more efficient market.

A worker or manager can easily add a bonus as an incentive to fill a shift on short notice, says

Shyft CEO Brett Patrontasch. “It’s a lot easier than email,” he observes. Meanwhile, workers can quickly change their availability status if they want to make more money or free up more time.

The Shyft app uses a combination of geolocation, financial transactions, machine learning and big data analytics to determine availability and pricing. The goal is to create an on-demand workforce that has more control over schedules while providing employers with the fluidity to operate efficiently.

As of late September, more than 12,000 Starbucks baristas, 3,500 Old Navy staffers and 7,500 McDonald’s employees were using Shyft’s app.

Founded in Toronto, the startup moved to Seattle in February to participate in the three-month Techstars mentoring program. This past summer, Shyft obtained $1.5 million in funding from Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group and other investors.