Small No. 3: Silberstein Insurance helps other employers by focusing on its own employees

For The Baltimore Sun

The turning point for Silberstein Insurance Group (SIG) came about seven years ago.

“We had sort of lost our way,” said Richard Silberstein, the namesake founder.

And so began a major transformation for the Baltimore-based human resources and employee benefits company. After years of helping other companies serve their employees, SIG looked inward.

Silberstein made management changes to improve the company culture and morale among its 50 or so employees.

He instituted a “predictive index,” which aims to hire the right candidates and match them with the best managerial fit. Silberstein and his managers learned the simple effectiveness of handwritten thank-you notes. They stopped using rated reviews and instead encouraged managers to have regular check-ins and conversations with their employees.

And they allowed employees to work wherever they want and whenever they want — so long as work gets done, goals are met and shifts are covered.

“I’m not treated like just an employee here,” said Ari Zohdi, a senior implementation coordinator who joined SIG in mid-2016. “I’m treated like a partner, as someone who is contributing to the future of the company.”

SIG is likewise thinking about the future of its staff.

“Everyone has a three-year plan as to where they are today, where we see them growing to, how they can get there and what that means to them financially,” Silberstein said. “People don’t leave, because we have a plan for them and we have a great culture.”

Zohdi described a workplace where colleagues frequently get together after work, even beyond organized company outings. The company also offers on-site fitness classes four days a week, wellness programs, healthy snacks (including an oatmeal bar), an annual day of service, charity drives, and a program where employees receive $100 to donate to their charity of choice and another $100 to either keep or give away.

““The culture is completely different than anything I have seen before,” Zohdi said. “I still wake up excited, like it’s my first week of work.”

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