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Corporate Culture Your Competitive Advantage

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Corporate Culture
Your Competitive Advantage

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Nationally, a staggering one in four employees quit their jobs in 2021 and more are expected to do so by the end of the year. The “Great Resignation,” as it has come to be called, has become a critical concern in most business circles. Not surprisingly, survey after survey, including one recently conducted by the Volusia Business Resource partners, found that employers are struggling to replace skilled staff who have left, leaving critical shortages.

Why are they leaving? The three top reported causes include:

  • Inadequate salary or benefits
  • Dissatisfaction with company culture – work/life balance
  • Lack of growth opportunity

While “inadequate salary” continues to hold a top spot, a survey by Manpower shows that workers want more than just higher pay. They want a better work-life balance and improved corporate culture. Top-performing employees won’t stay at a company with a poor workplace culture – especially with seemingly endless job options available elsewhere. Through job apps and other targeted recruiting programs, there’s little need for professionals to even seek out opportunity; the opportunities now seem to find them. 

So, when you ask what company culture has to do with employee retention, the answer is simple: EVERYTHING. Corporate culture is the secret that builds loyalty between the employer and the employee and relationships among employees. It fundamentally defines the nature of your organization.

The question is how can you develop a strong organizational culture? Leadership is the key. Think bigger about your company culture and its implications on employee work satisfaction, consider re-centering your organization around human-first practices, rethink your role in your employee’s health and well-being, and/or rebuild your company culture to expand employee opportunity and inclusivity.

We spoke with three Volusia County companies to learn from some of their best practices.

Davita Labs

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“One for all and all for one” is the motto cited by Ambar Rivera, DaVita Labs’ people services director. “I like to think of our lab as a truly special place with roles ranging from medical technologists and credit balance specialists to internet technology analysts and so many more. Our lab talent is truly unique. And we are a culturally diverse campus with teammates from various backgrounds.”

Everything at the global health care company begins and ends with corporate culture. Employee care and opportunity are front and center. It begins as early as sharing the company’s core values with interested applicants and continues with daily practice that says “We value our team.”

DaVita’s employee program goes beyond offering the full complement of compensation including competitive wages, a 401K matching program, and medical, dental and vision coverage. It even goes beyond providing “pay-for-performance” incentives and personal development growth support. The DaVita Labs philosophy focuses on the day-to-day working environment and corporate culture. No detail is too small. It’s evident from the moment you enter the picturesque 14-acre campus. The environment within the 150,000-square-foot facility is bright, contemporary and seems to pulsate positive energy throughout the building. 

“The culture here is very special. It’s a culture where you can have fun,” said Collection Specialist
Kay Brewster.

alt textLab Week is an example of one of the many programs and events dedicated to celebrating and energizing the DaVita Labs team. While Lab Week is celebrated nationally, the company chooses to celebrate locally, based on a theme suggested by the staff. This year’s winning recommendation featured a Cirque du Soleil theme that included skits, videos, flash mobs, social gatherings, and plenty of props and costumes.

Between the rewarding work of leading-edge technology applied to regimens and treatments that improve the lives of dialysis patients and the employee-centric company culture, DaVita Labs presents a compelling case for joining its team. In a word, it is inviting.

Lab Operations Vice President Keri Wagner sums it up. “We are more than just a group of professionals, we make an impact. Each year with more than 21 million test tubes processed, 63 million tests performed, and more than 21 million patients served, the DaVita Labs team makes a significant difference in the world of dialysis. That makes us proud to be part of such a noble mission.”

For more information about DaVita, visit

Chinchor Electric

Chinchor Electric is a family owned company in Orange City with exacting workforce needs. The company employs 145 people and provides electrical contracting for commercial and industrial customers, including new construction, retrofits, maintenance and service. As a commercial/industrial electrical contractor, Chincor handles jobs such as highway lighting, water treatment systems, wastewater lift stations, generators, intelligent traffic systems and more. It also provides installation and maintenance of traffic signals and sign structures for municipal governments and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). For example, the company recently completed electrical work on pedestrian crosswalks and roadway signage at Daytona Beach International Airport, an assignment with specification requirements from FDOT, the Federal Aviation Authority and others.

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“Electrical contracting requires a depth of knowledge that few candidates bring to the table,” said Kim Capman, the company’s office and human resources manager. “So, we have to sharpen our focus when filling vacant job openings or adding to our workforce. And when we find a candidate with the right background – or a willingness to undergo rigorous training – our corporate culture and benefits package underscores our commitment to our team.”

That package begins with tuition for traffic certification classes and full benefits including medical, dental, life insurance, 401k, paid holidays and vacation time. In addition, the company provides apprenticeship and training through the Florida Electrical Apprenticeship & Training (FEAT) program, an Orlando-based comprehensive apprenticeship program that allows a team member to grow within the organization. Chinchor Electric pays tuition for the four-year program. FEAT provides students with a comprehensive education designed to ensure success in high-tech electrical professions. Their apprentices can earn bonuses during the four-year program. The top performing apprentice qualifies for a $1,000 bonus with tiered bonuses following. Over the four-year course of study, apprentices can earn up to $10,000 in bonuses. Additional bonuses are available for journeymen.

Capman says the company has a dynamic approach to its human resources needs. The company team maintains membership in key trade associations and local organizations such as chambers of commerce. Its relationship with FEAT officials also helps with the kind of networking that supports recruitment efforts. The company also keeps an eye out for potential candidates who may currently work for its suppliers, or even its customers.

“Electricians are responsible for the safe installation and maintenance of electrical wiring and equipment,” said company President Tim Chinchor. “Electricians are among the first trades to work on a new construction project and one of the last trades needed to complete the job timely. It is precision work requiring specific knowledge and skills. We are ever mindful of this as we maintain and expand our staff.”

For more information about Chinchor Electric, visit

Halifax + Brown & Brown – Supporting Employees on a Whole New Level

Two of the area’s largest employers offer their employees services and support that deal with a wide range of mental well-being issues with which teammates may be coping. The past year’s struggles through the COVID-19 pandemic escalated this concern for many of us. There are even professionals who consider the Great Resignation as a side effect of COVID-19. Signs and signals of a problem may not always be apparent, but they represent personal or professional problems that are sure to escalate if ignored.

Halifax Health and Brown & Brown Inc. offer a wealth of services to support individuals who may be living with mental well-being issues from nuisance issues that affect one’s attitude and performance to serious problems that could be early warning signs of problems that require concentrated therapies to resolve.

Mark Spivey, coordinator of the Center for Wellbeing at Halifax Health, has a long resume in identifying and resolving mental well-being issues among teammates. As a clinical chaplain and trauma psychotherapist, he oversees a broad range of programs and services that support his teammates at Halifax Health. He notes the importance of services dealing with mental well-being among those working in the health care professions.

“Mental well-being is a wonderful thing,” Spivey said. “It indicates someone who is in balance to think, feel and act with resilient energy. But when someone’s mental well-being is out of balance, performance and response at all levels are affected.”

Spivey noted that signs and signals of troubling mental issues are always present. As these problems take hold, an individual may mask the problem. He or she may become withdrawn or even isolated. Mood swings, short temper and non-participation are outward signs of a problem. But many signs and signals are not outwardly apparent. A trusted friend, advisor or counselor will probe more deeply to help his or her teammate talk about issues and participate in conversations leading to resolving them.

This is not always easy. Archaic stigmas attached to any mental well-being issues, while fading, still stifle spontaneity among some people and professions.

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“It’s ironic that we can feel alone and isolated in such a well-connected society,” said Spivey. “Some of this is steeped in tradition, essentially penalizing us for being human. For example, physicians traditionally maintain a do-not-touch attitude when it comes to mental well-being issues. Fortunately, this is changing. As new generations of physicians join the noble health care professions, they are more tuned in to work-life balance and mental well-being issues that can affect that balance.”

The Center for Wellbeing offers a variety of programs designed to support teammates through communication, engagement, interaction and counseling.

Issues triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic are addressed at weekly COVID Conversations forums. Spivey reports that these can lead to spirited conversations among attendees. Most sessions lead to one-on-one counseling sessions to help teammates deal more effectively with the challenges of living and working in the shadow of a global pandemic.

Other resources include access to programs closely aligned with the issues a teammate is experiencing. Referrals to specialized counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists are also available. It’s all part of a commitment at Halifax Health to support its teammates with programs and services that help ensure good mental well-being leading to a happier life and a gratifying employment experience.

Shawn Abbetessa of Brown & Brown Insurance has similar observations as he looks after the company’s growing number of teammates. Abbatessa is chief of staff for Brown & Brown Absence Services Group, coming to the position with extensive experience in law enforcement leadership, sales, marketing and operations, He’s also an Air Force veteran. Abbetessa personally deals with post-traumatic stress disorder and is a frequent presenter on the subject, giving him unique insights into the complexities of the condition.

While his area of the business specializes in Social Security disability, working closely with insurance disability carriers and more, it is the entire Brown & Brown organization’s dedication to mental well-being that helps teammates every day.

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“We have a strongly rooted culture that prioritizes the health and mental well-being of our teammates and their families,” he said. “You regularly hear our most senior leaders stress the importance of health, family, business—in that order. As part of our commitment, the company offers robust resources that provide support and assistance relative to a variety of challenges or issues teammates may be facing.”

Abbatessa concurs with Spivey on the importance of picking up signs and signals relative to mental well-being. “Even in the age of COVID-19, when so many of us have been working remotely and meeting via Zoom or Teams platforms, we can look for and pick up on signs and signals that may foreshadow a problem. Whether teammates are dealing with a lingering issue or are facing a crisis, Brown & Brown provides access to services that can help with coping skills, crisis relief and everything in between.”

Many of the services readily available to Brown & Brown teammates are bundled under the company’s Employee Assistance Program. These include no-cost, confidential support services such as access to mental health counselors, a 24/7 crisis hotline, coaching, wellness activities, a library of videos on demand and more. Additionally, the company’s Crisis Hotline offers Advocate for Me, a service that provides one-on-one consultation with mental well-being case navigators, therapists and psychiatrists, alongside other programs, like Mindfulness Meditation. Offerings also include a Peer Partnership Program, where teammates from across the organization can connect to build new partnerships, expand their network, and experience the company culture through different perspectives.

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The company also offers a popular Small Bites series, consisting of bite-sized, 30-minute presentations covering a wide variety of personal and professional topics. Brown & Brown’s Cup of Joel group chats allow teammates to connect with Dr. Joel Axler, an on-staff board-certified psychiatrist, to discuss mental and physical well-being topics. The company’s intranet, The Spot (an homage to the company’s cultural symbol, the cheetah), provides a dedicated place for teammates to reference important news from across the organization, view upcoming events, access information and resources, and much more.

The bottom line is that, for the Brown & Brown team, the kind of support they are committed to providing goes beyond simply declaring an open door policy.

“Such a policy is a two-way street,” said Abbatessa. “It is incumbent upon the person inside the door to step out, to reach out to look for signs and signals of mental well-being issues, and be a part of the solution. Supporting those interactions through readily available access to mental health support resources is also critical.”

For more information about Halifax Health and Brown & Brown, visit:

Read next article: Partnerships To Develop Your Team.