Posted: August 01, 2012
2012 Best Companies, medium: No. 1 ReadyTalkBy Lisa Ryckman
It’s tempting to reduce ReadyTalk’s success to a chicken-and-egg kind of thing.
Which came first: the people or the profits?
Neither, CEO Dan King says.
"It goes hand-in-hand. If you want to be a great business, you have to be a great employer." he says. "You have to take good care of people to build something worthwhile."
Done and done.
Profit-wise, the Denver-based audio and Web conferencing company grew 353 percent in 2011, securing a spot for the fifth straight year on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology firms in North America.
And this is the fifth year that ReadyTalk has landed on the ColoradoBiz ranking of best places to work, and its second straight claim to the top spot.
"We try to treat people well so they can bring their best every day," King says.
Those efforts manifest themselves in big and small ways. There are the flexible schedule options, which allow ReadyTalk’s 150 employees to arrange their work hours to best accommodate their lifestyle. Then there’s the Employee Stock Option Plan. And the 100 percent health care coverage for employees and their families.
And there are the little things: yoga classes, massage services, kitchens stocked with nutritious snacks and beer, subsidized gym memberships, office bikes for errands and a locker room to shower off after a sweaty ride or run.
So much for financial and physical well-being. On the more spiritual side, ReadyTalk encourages employees to give back and the company sets the example.
"We really do try to be a good corporate citizen," King says. "One thing we’ve put into place is a budget to allow employees who are moved and motivated to give back an opportunity to make that part of their own work experience."
The company matches all employee donations to charitable organizations up to $500 a year and offers every employee the chance to spend 20 hours of paid time a year doing charitable work. An employee-driven committee identifies nonprofits that support education and the environment to receive company donations of more than $60,000 a year.
All of this because of an epiphany King experienced about 12 years ago.
"I grew up in finance, and all managment decisions were built around understanding business opportunities and maximizing economic outcomes," he says.
But that changed after he picked up a copy of "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies," by Stanford Graduate Business School professors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.
"I got a new appreciation for the softer side of business and the importance of having a strong culture and a clear vision," King says. "It was the trigger to – rather than fix the company I was in – go out and start a new one."
The idea that its employees should be grateful simply to have a job, particularly in this economy, doesn’t fly at ReadyTalk.
"For me, it’s about building an environment that I want to be part of for everyone," King says.
2011 rank: No. 1
Lisa Ryckman is the online editor at cobizmag.com.