Cover Story: What's F.A. Davis Doing Right?
“We’re under a certain amount of duress like any business,” Craven notes, “but we haven’t had to do any of the invasive maneuvers that would really affect staff.”
In the midst of economic trouble, F.A. Davis’ human resources department has worked to create ever-more creative and sophisticated benefits packages. Recent changes included dropping one of two personal choice health plans and adding a high-deductible plan, with the company paying 75 percent of the deductible. The company also offers an HMO and a point-of-service plan, as well as dental insurance, life insurance, profit sharing and a 401(k) plan that is matched dollar for dollar up to the first 3 percent. “Our benefits are rich, especially for a company our size,” says Crystal Spraggins, human resources director. “In many of the [human resources] decisions that are made, the employees’ point of view is considered, and we try to do a good job of communicating to employees why we do what we do.”
A sign of the comfort employees feel engaging with management is seen in the response rate to frequent internal surveys requesting opinions and feedback—upward of 75 percent to 80 percent, Spraggins says. An open, informal office environment also contributes to employees’ sense that their opinions matter. (“My door is open to everybody,” Craven says.) At the same time, efforts to ensure an open line from management to staff are built into a monthly system of manager’s meetings where budget outlooks are shared with department heads.
Popular with all employees are Half-Day Fridays, where, in exchange for picking up hours on other days, all staff is let out at 12:30 p.m. from April through October. Employees who don’t use the opportunity to get a jump on their weekend often join colleagues at local watering holes, part of what Craven calls an “informal infrastructure” of camaraderie and communication.