Time off and food: Those are the true keys to attracting and retaining great employees, believes Craig Callaway, CEO of eCompanyStore, a 130-person firm based in Alpharetta, GA, that runs company stores for giants like Microsoft and Bayer.
“There’s only so much money you can pay people,” says Callaway. “What you can really give them that makes the difference is free time to spend with their families.”
Callaway doesn’t just pay lip service to the idea of work/life balance. eCompanyStore practices what it preaches by awarding all employees, with the exception of highly-commissioned salespeople who are eligible for incentive trips, with 21-day mandatory sabbaticals every five years. That’s in addition to any regular vacation time they’re entitled to. “I want people to take the kind of trip they’d never take in a regular week’s vacation, whether it’s going on a mission trip or tracking down a long-lost second cousin. We want people to do life-changing stuff and come back revitalized,” Callaway says.
And when they’re in the office, employees are able to opt to attend quarterly outings arranged by their peers. If someone comes up with the idea to, say, plan a paintball outing, the company will fund the outing and allow people a half day off, as long as at least eight employees sign up to go along. Employees also are encouraged to participate in charitable endeavors during the work day.
“That’s really our differentiator here,” Callaway says. “A lot of companies say they’re family friendly, but we actually are. So people stay here 15, 20 years, and work hard.” That kind of loyalty and commitment has paid off for the firm—clients like Microsoft have done business with eCompanyStore for more than 15 years because of its stellar customer service.
One other thing they also do a lot of at eCompanyStore: eat. The distributorship regularly has events that revolve around food. On this particular afternoon the Road Tour crew had the opportunity to judge a cutthroat bake-off, where 18 employees baked items ranging from cherry cheesecake to zucchini bread and competed for cash prizes and a giant trophy.
After tasting each item, the Road Tour team bestowed the top prize on Kelly Sundgren, who wowed the crew with a tall vanilla cake and coconut frosting.
“We’ll eat together for virtually any occasion,” said Callaway, while sampling a chocolate and peanut butter brownie. “We can always find a good reason to celebrate.”