No. 27: E Group, Best Places To Work 2018

Counselor honors the top industry workplaces through an exclusive survey and rankings. Find out what makes E Group a great place to work!

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Rank: 27
E Group (asi/184795), Reston, VA

Staffers gather in the open-concept office area.

Benefits & Perks: An online portal that makes creating work schedules and accessing benefits easy. Employees receive an annual winter holiday break that includes five extra paid days off. An online “Inspiration Station” lets employees select personalized rewards for their work.

Workspace Highlights: Meeting rooms are decorated with themes, from an “Edison’s idea-inspiring room” complete with a light bulb mural, to a “Twain’s room” that includes rustic-paneled walls and leather chairs. The latest renovation is a Starbucks-styled multi-use space in the cavernous lobby, which is scheduled for completion in July.

E Group has learned that the best way to get people excited about coming to the office is to ensure they don’t have to come to an “office” at all.

Instead, E Group’s 30 employees do their work in open, team-based pods – one of a number of ways in which the company promotes a constant culture of communication.

“Having the ability to sit with your team and work so close to them, and having a pod and a table in the center where you can huddle and talk about ideas – that’s worth its weight in gold,” says Christine Hamby-Sowder, E Group’s director of customer experience.

While easier collaboration is a clear benefit, there’s a human element to this shared setup as well. “You learn about what’s going on in someone’s family, and whether they’re having a bad day or a great day. It just gives a spirit of togetherness and you kind of feel like, hey, we are literally and figuratively all in this together, and whatever we do, we’re doing it together,” Hamby-Sowder says.

E Group’s non-traditional layout goes beyond the pods. It includes a free coffee bar, cozy conversation booths, an onsite fitness room, vision boards and ideation suites – all with the goal of creating a comfortable environment that encourages employees to create and deliver their best work. The workspace is constantly updated based on employee feedback.

Employees are surrounded with inspirational messages like these.

“Engaged employees will create a great client experience. It’s not checking off a list, like, ‘OK, we had a holiday party.’ We go much deeper than that,” Hamby-Sowder says.

To ensure everyone has a voice, E Group created a Synergy Group several years ago, with the goal of creating the best work-life experience possible for all 30 of the company’s employees. The all-volunteer group, which rotates members on an annual basis, helps shape the company culture in a number of ways, from reimagining the associate handbook to staging future events and activities.

“Their messages are constantly evolving, and E Group has to evolve with them,” says Amy Zavrel, E Group’s director of brand services. “Somebody’s ideas one year might not be relevant ideas the next year. We honor everybody’s opinions – they don’t just go into a vacuum. We take them to heart, and we act on them as well.”

Giving each employee a voice and ensuring everyone looks forward to seeing and communicating with their co-workers every day is the ultimate morale booster – and it ensures E Group will pass along that positive energy to their clients.

“It humanizes and personalizes the workday,” Zavrel says. “You don’t become just a number. You know your impact and the camaraderie is based on the individuals and not just on our workload or our workflow.”