Given the current pandemic, it seems exquisitely prescient that travel insurance comparison site and marketer Squaremouth went remote with its call center in November 2018. The objective was to reduce commute time and create more flexibility for staff, but it also benefited retention as there's been greatly reduced turnover since that move. It also opened the door to expanding that staff beyond the company's St. Petersburg, Florida, headquarters into other states.
That, in turn, led to the elimination of state-specific health insurance plans, ensuring nationwide coverage for call-center employees in which 100 percent of employee premiums are paid after one year and 50 percent before that.
While the importance of that may be elevated at the moment, it's but one of the attractions that have made Squaremouth an Inc. Best Workplace four years running.
According to chairman Chris Harvey, the Nottinghamshire, England, ex-pat who founded the business in 2003, "We are a highly customer-focused company, and we've always believed that in order for us to provide the best customer service, we have to provide the best work environment."
That's included the institution of mandatory paid vacation days and birthdays off. In fact, vacation days are unlimited, but when the numbers showed most employees weren't taking a reasonable number of days off, the minimum of 10 rule was put into place. Sick or personal days don't count. Neither do the mandatory birthdays off that come with a $200 beer bonus.
"It didn't evolve to this culture. It was always this culture," says chief marketing officer Megan Moncrief. "The company just grew. And with that, the perks and benefits have expanded. We tweak them so that they still work for a company of 38 employees whereas at one time, there were only three. This has always been Chris's mindset."
In the works is the modification of a 20,000-square-foot former church that will be the new company HQ when completed. Squaremouth will keep the open-office concept, which moves people around, keeping things fresh, but there will also be a fitness center and spa, onsite child care, and napping areas. There are also reports of treehouses, a bar, and a coffee shop planned for the space.
Even with that space, the company is intimate. "We're so collaborative because we're so small," Moncrief says. "We work so closely together, every department. We have a really good handle on the vibe of the office and the overall feeling of satisfaction and happiness."
Dealing with insurance and claims can be stressful at times. "We know we're on the front lines for any kind of travel issue," says Moncrief, who also admits that insurance may not be as glamorous as most people think. So keeping morale high is a priority.
"We are constantly trying to find new things to do in order to help our staff and engage them and keep them happy and motivated in the workplace," she says.
"I think it's really important that all employees are able to try new things and not be worried about messing it up," says project manager Emily Phinney. "I think that's where some of the best things that we produce come from."