Building Great Places to Work

November 18. 2015

Winner Spotlight Series: Human Arc

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November 18. 2015

Thirty-one years ago, Mike Baird, CEO of Human Arc, had recently graduated college but was ready for something more. He had a dream to start a business that included both purpose and profit. So Baird started Human Arc, a company that helps hospitals and health plans improve revenue while delivering significant community benefit. On behalf of its clients, Human Arc helps patients and plan members with low or no income, and those who are aged or have disabilities, enroll in government-funded assistance programs and realize quality-of-life improvements. 


Community matters

On top of helping hospitals and health plans improve revenue and deliver significant benefits, there is another side to Human Arc and that is being involved with the community. Each Human Arc associate is allotted eight hours of paid time off to volunteer in the community. 

“We are encouraged as associates to volunteer with whatever our passion brings us to,” said Alicia Burton, Marketing Project Manager. “Associates have participated in cancer walks, food drives, clothing drives, and backpack drives. Human Arc also hosts an annual 5K race/walk and any money that is raised is donated to the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, which was $25,000 last year.”

Burton says whenever an idea is thrown out to help the community, the response from Human Arc and its associates is incredible. And because every opportunity is different from the next, everyone gets involved one way or another. 

“My favorite event I have participated in was a backpack drive. I met a woman who couldn’t afford supplies for her grandchildren. I was able to come to Human Arc and ask if it would be interested in hosting a backpack drive in my community. The response I received was overwhelming. So now we do a backpack drive each year and are able to donate 200 backpacks to kids in need,” says Burton.

Human Arc has thousands of touching stories about helping people in the community. One story that was highlighted at the NorthCoast 99 Event was when several Human Arc associates learned of hospital client patient that was unable to get in and out of his home. He depended on a wheelchair to get around, however, his home was not wheelchair accessible.

In 2014, associates Jeff Cruz, Senior EDI Analyst, and Alice Legg, Account Manager, did some internal fundraising and with the help of CEO Mike Baird’s offer to match what they raised, Cruz and Legg were able to raise enough money to build a wheelchair ramp.

“That first time the patient was able to roll up and down the ramp was such a proud moment, and seeing how excited he was just made my day,” said Cruz. 

“It’s really hard to find the words to explain how it felt being a part of this opportunity, but what is even more amazing is that Human Arc helped make it happen,” said Legg. 

Janet White, HCR Executive, says a lot of stories stick out to her, but the most special ones to her are the ones that involve Human Arc associates. 

“One associate had a car go through their home, another’s house burned down, such unfathomable things, and people here have risen to the occasion to help out. The most amazing thing about it is you never have to ask, people just automatically start giving,” says White. 

What it’s like working for Human Arc

The culture at Human Arc is one of excitement, as described by many of the Human Arc associates, but it’s also all about making a difference. 

“When we make a difference, it’s not about the big things, but rather about the little things,” says Burton. “That’s what we do, that’s who we are - we make a difference.” 

Jennifer Crupper, Employee Relations Manager at Human Arc, says the culture at Human Arc is extremely value based, which is what has drawn her to stay at Human Arc for all of these years. 

“It’s about doing the right thing, having integrity, and being kind to other people. There’s a lot of experience and knowledge at Human Arc, as well as a lot of compassion for the people we work with and the roles we are in. It’s about making a difference. Now we really want to focus on how to inspire other people and companies to do the same,” says Crupper.

White also raves about working for Human Arc and attributes a lot of Human Arc’s success to the CEO, Mike Baird. 

“The people that I work with at Human Arc are awesome- actually they are amazing. They have high integrity and passion that just oozes out of them. Whether it’s a member, an internal associate or a patient, it’s part of our tapestry to help people, and that was all part of our President’s vision.”  

There is no doubt after visiting with the wonderful associates of Human Arc that this is a special company. It continues to help each other, the community, and really promote paying it forward. Human Arc’s hope is to inspire people and organizations to do just the same.

“I love coming to work every day because it has purpose. We are doing something big here. We are all a part of helping others, impacting our community, impacting the wellbeing of our clients’ patients and members who just need someone to help them,” says Crupper. 

November 2. 2015

Winner Spotlight Series: Akron Children's Hospital

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November 2. 2015

Akron Children’s Hospital is one of the largest pediatric healthcare systems in the United States. Its staff handles nearly 850,000 patient visits a year at two hospital campuses and a large network of locations offering primary and specialty care. Since its founding by a group of volunteers 125 years ago, Akron Children’s has been committed to delivering family-centered, pediatric care and to upholding  its three founding promises:  1) Treat others as we would like to be treated; 2) Treat every child as we would our own; and 3) Turn no child away for any reason.

That is exactly what one employee, Karen Ingram, patient service representative (PSR), has done. Three years ago, Ingram began collecting clothing for patients of Children’s Locust Pediatric Care Group. She stored her supplies in a closet in the medical office and opened it to families who needed extra support.


In 2014, Ingram’s colleagues wanted to recognize her work and surprised her by giving the closet an official name, Karen’s Closet, in her honor. With the help of Children’s President Bill Considine, they held a small ceremony and presented Ingram with a plaque.

“It’s a very well deserved recognition because Karen has made such a positive impact on the lives of these families,” said Considine.

Ingram’s dedication to her patients and their families goes well beyond simply attending to their medical needs. It is representative of Akron Children’s culture of caring and is a prime reason for the hospital’s selection as the recipient of the 2015 NorthCoast 99 Community Impact Award.

How it all began

Since Ingram started at Akron Children’s 36 years ago, she has witnessed many families coming through the hospital with less than enough to get by. The turning point for her was three years ago when she noticed a little boy, about 6 years old, walking outside in winter with shoes that were much too large for his small feet.

“We serve many refugee families, and we often noticed they lacked proper shoes or clothing. So I started asking other employees and our volunteer office for donations.  As time went by, it just evolved,” Ingram said.

With the support of her manager Franklin Choate, operations supervisor at Locust Pediatrics, she was able to designate a small area to store the donations that come from hospital employees and families.

“When I saw what Karen was doing, it was unexpected for a doctor’s office. It’s not the traditional care model, but I thought, ‘Wow! Here is someone who truly understands the meaning of a caring relationship between a family and a care provider,’” said Choate.

 “It’s not just me. It’s my whole office – the doctors, PSRs, social workers and everyone. If we have a family in need, it’s so rewarding to look through the closet and see what I can find for them. As long as I am here, I am going to keep doing it,” said Ingram.

When a great workplace and a great employee come together

Locust Pediatrics is a primary care practice that serves as a safety net in the community, serving many at-risk families with limited resources. Their patient population includes a large number of refugee families, many of whom don’t speak English, as well as children with medically complex, chronic conditions. Locust Pediatrics provides a wide array of services to support all the needs of this special population.

“This organization is about family-centered patient care. It’s not about bricks and mortar. Karen represents someone who cares about patients and people,” said Considine. “When I saw what she was doing, putting supplies in the closet and presenting them as gifts for others, it suggested to me that the real gift in all of this is Karen Ingram.”

“What stands out to me is that she tries to make it like any other shopping experience. It’s not viewed as a handout. She has done a great job making this a normal, safe environment where a child’s needs can be addressed,” said Choate.

“Karen truly represents service above self and unconditional care. She embodies the spirit of our hospital and our promises. She just really has one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen,” Choate added.

“Her example creates positive energy within our organization. It shows others that you can raise the bar, and you can go beyond your job description to truly make an impact on a family,” said Considine.

The people make the culture

“It’s been great to witness the growth of donations from people around the hospital. When it starts happening outside your immediate environment, that’s when you know you have made an impact. People are aware of the need and are providing resources to give our patient families what they need,” said Choate.

After visiting the staff at Akron Children’s, it was clear that they are all there because they want to really make an impact in the community. Children’s fosters a culture where anyone can dream up new ways to care for people and turn those dreams into reality. That’s exactly what Karen’s Closet does.

“We talk a lot about culture and strategy every day. You can have the best plan, but if your people don’t believe in it and take ownership of it, that plan is going to fail,” said Considine. “Culture is so important, and Karen energizes our culture. She represents the possibilities. That’s what makes it fun. When you can humanize the things you do on a day-to-day basis, it keeps you focused on the connections we have with the children and families we’re privileged to care for.”

September 29. 2015

Stories of NorthCoast 99 Winners Revealed

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September 29. 2015


On September 24, ERC honored the top 99 places to work in Northeast Ohio at its 2015 NorthCoast 99 Awards Event. The night started off with Carl Jara creating an amazing NorthCoast 99 sand sculpture with 3 tons of sand, followed by DJ Michelle Pesce setting the tone with awesome music and beats. Then, stories were told of community, bravery and risk-taking. The night concluded with Joe Castillo, a motivational speaker that brought stories to life through picturesque sand images he created with his own hands. By the end of the night, the audience left feeling uplifted and filled with a desire to do more than they ever dreamed. More...

September 28. 2015

Great Workplaces & Top Performers: A NorthCoast 99 Fairytale

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September 28. 2015

A NorthCoast 99 Fairytale

Chapter 1: The Great Quest Begins (a.k.a. Attracting Top Talent)

Once upon a time…in a faraway land (Northeast Ohio)…long, long ago (2015)…there lived 99 NorthCoast award winning employers. Applicants would flock from far and wide in search of a job with one of these NorthCoast 99 winners and their HR Departments were always on the look-out to add top performing employees to their teams. As they set out on their quest to attract and retain the best and the brightest to their organizations, these NorthCoast 99 winners knew that their efforts would be in vain without the help of their trusty best practices in recruitment and hiring. More...

September 2. 2015

2015 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report

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September 2. 2015

Winners Report

The 2015 NorthCoast 99 Winners report summarizes best practices and innovative trends in the workplace among the 2015 NorthCoast 99 winners in recruiting, selection and on-boarding; compensation, rewards, and appreciation; training, development, and performance management; work/life and wellness; leadership, empowerment, and involvement; and community impact.

Download the 2015 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report

This report contains information on best practices, benchmark data, stories and examples, and case studies based on data provided by the 2015 NorthCoast 99 winners. Specifically, the report features:

  • Dozens of HR metrics, including targeted metrics for top performers
  • Summaries of common winner workplace practices
  • Examples of actual workplace practices and innovations
  • Analysis of what makes top performers stay at organizations, attributes they look for in jobs, attributes that would make them leave their jobs, and their levels of engagement
  • Analysis of new-hire feedback as well as key drivers of new-hire satisfaction and levels of engagement

September 2. 2015

NorthCoast 99…Something to Celebrate!

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September 2. 2015

NorthCoast 99 2015

ERC’s NorthCoast 99 program annually honors 99 great workplaces for top talent in Northeast Ohio. Carrie Morse, Director of Partnerships at ERC, has been overseeing NorthCoast 99’s exclusive awards event for the last 13 of its 17 years.

“NorthCoast 99 is really about the application and the data that we are able to collect and share through the program. Organizations that apply for the award share a great deal about what they’re doing to attract and retain the best of the best, including their practices, their policies, and success stories,” says Morse.


September 1. 2015

The 2015 NorthCoast 99 Winners Revealed!

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September 1. 2015

We are excited to share the 2015 winners of the 17th annual NorthCoast 99 Awards! These organizations, recognized as great places to work in Northeast Ohio, have demonstrated excellence in attracting, motivating and retaining top performers through an application process completed earlier this spring. The 2015 NorthCoast 99 winners represent 10 counties in Northeast Ohio and are from more than 14 different industries. 

Of the 99 organizations winning the award, four are being honored as a Legacy Winner, having won the award 10 times. They include Cleveland Clinic, Jennings Center for Older Adults, Pomerene Hospital, and Skoda Minotti. Workplace & Community Impact Awards are being presented to Akron Children’s Hospital, The Cleveland Foundation, The Garland Company Inc., and Human Arc.More...

July 28. 2015

Winners Spotlight Series: Wayne Homes

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July 28. 2015

For more than 40 years, Wayne Homes has been making  dreams come true by giving families a place to call home. Currently building homes in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Wayne Homes has found success in giving customers the home they are dreaming of. But behind all of the construction and customization is another story that Wayne Homes is making come true.

Wayne Homes’ volunteer program, Random Acts of Kindness Days (RAK Days) has touched countless people in need as well as volunteer centers. Wayne Homes provides two paid days for employees to be able to leave work and help volunteer at an organization of their choice. To date, employees have volunteered at a variety of places, including Make a Wish, Open M, Ronald McDonald House, hunger walks, local schools and local animal shelters.More...

April 22. 2015

NorthCoast 99: What Were the Top Performers Doing in 2014?

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April 22. 2015

The deadline for the 2015 NorthCoast 99 Application is fast approaching. Every year, the top 99 workplaces in Northeast Ohio are honored for their ability to attract, retain, and motivate top talent at their organization.  Those winners come together to celebrate their victory at an annual awards banquet (check out the video below!).

Well before these organizations can celebrate their victories, they must complete a comprehensive application process that includes surveying a select group of their top performing Northeast Ohio employees about their current levels of engagement and what is most important to them in a job.  This survey is critical in identifying key attributes that an organization needs in order to increase the probability they can attract and retain great people and it’s the foundation of the evaluation process for the award.

Let’s take a look at who the top performers were and what was most important to them in 2014:  

Who they were

40-54 year olds made up the largest demographic group of top performers at 39%, followed by 55 year-olds at 14%.  About 17% of top performers were 29 and under, and only about 3% fell in the demographic of 30-39 years-old.

Women also made up the majority of top performers (57%), and 42% of all top performers held at least a Bachelor’s degree. About 24% held an Associate’s degree and 23% a graduate degree. Employees with a GED made up 11% of the top performer population.

An overwhelming majority (96%) of top performers were full-time employees, and most had been working for their employers between 0 and 10 years; however, 11% had been at a company for more than 20 years.

What they wanted

When presented with a list of workplace attributes, 21% of top performers selected challenging/meaningful work as the most important.This was followed by compensation at 15.9%. The following rounded out the top 10 responses:

  • Job security at 12%
  • Work/life balance at 11.3%
  • Advancement at 6.4%
  • Career Development at 6.3%
  • Autonomy at 5.7%
  • Leadership at 5.2%
  • Benefits at 5.2%
  • Product/service quality at 2.8%

Why they stayed

Top performers were asked, “What aspects of this workplace or your job influence your decision to remain at this organization?” There were three distinct reasons why top performers, across all organizations, chose to stay at their current organization.


Overall, the top performers at NorthCoast 99 award winning organizations shared that they found themselves comfortable and felt they were surrounded by great people. They felt their teams were well-balanced, highly skilled, and willing to support each other above and beyond the typical work expectations.

Interestingly, the top performers at non-winning organizations tended to focus more on compensation and job stability (versus culture). However, across the board for winners and non-winners, good relationships between top performers and management was highly valued. Also, being a fast-growing organization was important as well.


When it came to flexibility, many top performers appreciated when managers and organizations were supportive of a healthy work/life balance. Many expressed their interest in being able to do things at the office and at home, such as:

  • Being able to leave early to take their kids to an appointment
  • Offering opportunities to work from home
  • Liberal paid time-off policies 


Top performers were very happy with the support they received in growing their skills and advancing their careers. It was noted that they appreciated the different training and career development efforts that were offered.

Have a Great Place for Great Talent?  Apply for the 2015 NorthCoast 99 Award!

Do you think your organization has what it takes to be one of the top 99 workplaces for top talent in Northeast Ohio? Complete the application at – but hurry! The deadline to enter your application is April 30th.

If you have any questions about the application, please contact us at or call 440-684-9700.

March 27. 2015

Winner Spotlight Series: Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank

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March 27. 2015

Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank: Giving Food a Purpose in the Community 

The Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank has been serving its community for the last 32 years. Its mission is simple but powerful, "Feed People, Fight Hunger."

When you walk into the Akron-Canton Foodbank, you can't help but feel overcome with happiness as the volunteers are cheerfully packing lunches for after-school programs, and employees are greeting you with a smile. These are just some of the reasons the Foodbank is a NorthCoast 99 winner and a great representation of what it means to be a great workplace in Northeast Ohio.More...

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