According to a Pew Research Center study, in 2015 millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and they brought with them a new perception of office life.
Mary Hester, CEO of LAN Systems, a full service IT services provider, has a millennial-heavy workforce and thinks LAN Systems' flat organizational structure and her management style fit well with the needs of a younger workforce. "If they need me, I'm
here. I'm a macro-manager," said Hester. "I treat them very much as equals. I treat them as the passionate, engaged, concerned individuals that they are." She's open to their feedback and doesn't boss them around. "The pecking order has disappeared. I just have a lot more experience," she added with a laugh. "It's my job to keep them challenged and learning and growing."
In some ways, no one is more surprised than Hester that LAN Systems has been able to maintain its position as a top three Atlanta Business Chronicle Best Place to Work in the small employer category for three years running. This year, the company takes the top spot.
"It's hard for us to be a best place to work," she said, explaining that it's not easy to keep up with technology. "We don't have foosball or beer on tap and we can't all go on a cruise together. But we're here, together, every single day working on behalf of each other and of our clients."
One of LAN Systems' 15 employees added this comment in a survey taken as part of the Best Places to Work competition: "I love the company, the vision, my coworkers and my boss." Another employee explained that LAN Systems is, "A great place to work and grow."
To ensure a good cultural fit, Hester interviews all potential hires. "I stress that we want team members who believe a rising tide lifts all boats," she said. Once folks are hired, they're assigned a Sherpa, a fellow employee who helps them onboard quickly and successfully. The company has a technology lab where employees practice their skills. To improve communication, work productivity and teamwork, LAN Systems implemented various programs that help employees boost their interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
Last year, the company was chosen as a Google fiber technology partner and the company implemented a "My IT best practices" initiative that enabled LAN Systems to standardize best practices. This provides consistency not only for customers, but for LAN Systems' engineers and technicians.
"People hate uncertainly," explained Hester. "It's so important for the customer to have a pleasant experience. It has to be consistent no matter who you speak with or who you work with."
To give back to the community, LAN Systems works with technology and philanthropic organizations such as TechBridge and Rotary International. Individually, Hester donates her time to outreach with women via groups such as Women in Technology and the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services.
Link to the original Atlanta Business Chronicle article.