How a pandemic further defined our culture…
I was recently asked to sit down with an up-and-coming business owner to discuss how BHI’s culture was built. I told him that you do not define your culture, your culture defines you. I explained that, in my opinion, an organization’s culture is defined by its actions, by what it encourages and rewards, and what it tolerates. BHI’s culture promotes a “work hard, play hard” mentality from the reception desk all the way to the CEO’s desk. Our mission statement promises to field a team committed to executing a vision of growth, while maintaining a client-focused culture and giving back to our community. When COVID-19 began to show its ugly face in the 1st Quarter, BHI was forced to consider the impact to our team, our clients, and our community. We knew that the uncertainty facing us, our ability to succeed in 2020 would require us to be fluid with our decision making, creative with our planning, and impactful with our execution.
As the pandemic began to disrupt nearly every aspect of our lives, BHI quickly realized that 2020 was not going to be a normal year. We knew that we would have to balance the safety and well-being of our team with the importance of our culture, work performance, and overall morale. We immediately allowed those employees that were high risk, or uncomfortable coming into the office, to work from home. Meanwhile many of our employees quickly found themselves adding the role of school teacher to their resume. BHI was very fortunate that our IT Provider, LanPros, Inc., already had us set-up to be able to work remotely and our nearly 30 employees transitioned to working from their homes, continuing to provide the amazing service our clients are accustomed to and deserve. While our team continued to perform at a high level in a remote work environment, we felt that it was difficult to maintain our unique cultural without being under the same roof. With our office already set up to be socially distanced, we began to reintroduce all non-high-risk employees back into the office in September and set up a QDRO for the purpose of reimbursing employees for childcare costs that were incurred by them coming into the office. BHI felt compelled to support those employees that would have to incur an expense with their children being educated virtually. With many of our employees taking advantage of this program, we are extending it through the end of the year and will continue offering this program until COVID-19 is no-longer causing a hardship.
To further enhance our culture, BHI is big on team-building events as we feel it brings the entire company closer and rewards the hard work and successes of our team. Prior to COVID-19, there were several events planned for 2020, including the entire company going to the Phillies’ home opener game, our annual trip to a country concert at the Delaware State Fair, and our fall BBQ for our business partners. As these events were cancelled one by one, BHI was very concerned that our mentality and the heart of our culture would change from “work hard, play hard” to “all work and no play.” After some creative brainstorming, we decided to have a company corn hole tournament as it allowed us to stay socially distanced. Our team had such a great time that it will now be an annual event. In December, we created what will also be an annual tradition with our BHI Family Movie Day. BHI rented an entire movie theater, inviting our employees and their families for a private showing of a holiday favorite, The Polar Express. Hopefully, Santa will be able to visit next year.
When I look back at 2020, I am very proud of BHI’s ability to give back to our community. Every year we are normally very active in supporting the non-profits that provide incredible service to our communities, but this year we have nearly doubled our charitable contributions in 2020. The hospitality industry, which is near and dear to my heart, was drastically impacted early on with the closure of sit-down dining. To show our support for restaurants in those early months, BHI purchased take-out lunch from a different client every day, for our employees still coming into the office. Over a 6-week period in the summer, we partnered with Platinum Dining Group, Martuscelli Restaurant Group, and Jack’s Country Maid Deli of Elsmere to deliver 1,000 meals to frontline healthcare workers and first responders. We also purchased 5,000 face masks, donating them to many of our clients that were impacted by the new COVID-19 guidelines for operating their businesses. And finally, in November, when the new round of restrictions once again impacted restaurants and bars, the #BHIBuys campaign was created, reimbursing up to 25% of a patron’s bill for visiting one of our clients’ establishments.
To say that 2020 has been a challenging year for many would be a gross understatement. For many, it is difficult to find the silver lining amid the disruption, and in some cases, devastation that COVID-19 has caused on the business community. As this year comes to a close and we get time to reflect on an unprecedented year, I feel a great sense of pride to look back on how our team has responded and in doing so, further defined our already very unique culture.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John joined BHI in 2006 as a part-time advisor, became a partner in 2010 and President/CEO in 2016. His primary role is that of an insurance advisor, working with industry leaders to implement insurance and risk management strategies that are a best fit for each client. In addition to John’s role as an advisor, he oversees all financial and strategic initiatives for BHI. He has experience dealing with multiple insurance strategies, including guaranteed cost, loss sensitive and captive insurance programs, for organizations and businesses across most industries. John is licensed to sell insurance in 43 states and to date, has sold over $100,000,000 in Property & Casualty Insurance premiums. Most recently, John has been honored by Delaware Business Times as one of their 40 Under 40 Leaders. DBT presents this award to “role models who are striving to make a difference in our community.” Under John’s leadership, BHI was also named a Fastest 50 award winner, signaling BHI’s growth and placement as a premier brokerage in the Mid- Atlantic region. A lifelong Delawarean, John resides in Hockessin with his two children, Jack and Bailey.