This article is featured in the January issue of Seattle Business magazine. Subscribe here to access the print edition.
After the pandemic forced Seattle Business magazine to cancel its annual Best Companies To Work For bash last summer, Total Benefit Solutions held its own virtual party to celebrate its inclusion on the list for the fourth year in a row.
The Bellevue-based health insurance provider hired Jonathan Goldsmith — “the most interesting man in the world” from the Dos Equis beer commercials — for the video invite and ordered Truffle Shuffle items that employees could make at home. Cofounders John Henry and Mike Crosetto asked attendees to dress up as their most inspirational role models, with a surprising result.
“Two members dressed up as John and me,” Crosetto says. “We were the most inspirational people to them. That was really humbling to see that passion for the organization.”
Henry and Crosetto, who serves as chief op-erating officer, founded the company back in 2003. It offers international health benefit and health insurance plans to small and mid-size businesses in Washington, Alaska and Idaho. Henry is managing director. The company employs 73 (22 in the Seattle area).
A few years ago, TBS launched a subset business, ScalePEO, a payroll and benefits compliance service. ScalePEO has helped shore up company finances this year and TBS has kept its staff intact. Like most everyone else, TBS employees are working from home during the pandemic, with no immediate plans to return to the office.
Culture comes naturally to Crosetto and Henry, who have been coworkers and “best friends” for almost 20 years. They emphasize transparency, autonomy and work-life balance, and say the company’s culture is outlined in its strategic plan. TBS sets quarterly, annual and three-to-five-year goals.
“We share it with our staff. It’s engraved in our glass doors,” Crosetto says. “To paraphrase it, we’re inclusive and diverse with a family-first commitment. We talk about it on a daily basis with our teams.”
There’s also a “culture club” that has pivoted to a virtual focus. Employees got together on Zoom and built their own face masks; Bundt cakes are sent to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Employees play virtual games. During monthly meetings, employees can spin a virtual wheel for cash and other prizes.
“They’re [our employees] the ones bringing the innovation, passion and fun,” Crosetto says. “We can lead it from our values and mission statements, but they keep it alive and move it inside the company. It’s really humbling.”