Culture. It is arguably the single-most important aspect of an organization – even more so than the products sold or services provided. Creating and sustaining a culture that supports the workforce by demonstrating a commitment to ethics, compliance and respect not only leads to better talent attraction and retention, but it also leads to greater customer loyalty – and ultimately, better profitability. After all, customers, investors, employees, and the public at large want to do business with or be employed by companies that are committed to doing the right thing.
At NAVEX, we’re proud to support organizations across the world that are committed to their culture through ethics and compliance. In a recent interview with Melissa DiMuro, head of people and culture, she shared how a commitment to culture is the foundation for Limbach Construction. We’re honored to spotlight Limbach, one of our customers that embodies our shared values.
A bit about Limbach
Founded in 1901, Limbach offers engineered solutions to a variety of customers, including healthcare, higher education, industrial, and many other commercial and institutional clients. Limbach employs over 1,650 employees across the U.S., with a team of engineering, project management, construction craft workers, maintenance technicians, and technology experts. At the core of Limbach is their vision, mission and values – all of which are clearly outlined on their website. They are:
- We Care
- We Act with Integrity
- We Are Innovative
- We Are Accountable
“That first value is ‘We Care,’ and we always say the first one is our foundational value and sets the tone for everything else,” shared DiMuro. “It is all about caring for the entire person, caring for the entire customer, caring for the entire community, caring for our shareholders. It's not just a business transaction with us. That foundational value of being truly committed to the person sets us apart. It leads all of employees to do the right thing”
Before we further explore the other values, it’s important to step back and discuss how “We Care” was recently put into practice with the impact of Hurricane Ian on the East Coast. A significant amount of Limbach’s business, their customers and employees are located in Florida and other locations that suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Ian. While all of Limbach’s employees are safe and accounted for, several employees and many of their customers are facing significant damages.
Given the critical nature of their work and the level of damage faced, the employees of Limbach and its subsidiary, Harper, are dedicated to helping the community recovering. One example of this dedication is a service technician, who – even though they are facing personal losses of property – was working to assist customers in the immediate aftermath. Once the company was able to connect with this technician, they realized not only were they hard at work, but they were also out of fuel. Without hesitation, leaders from the area took it upon themselves to quickly deliver fuel, food, water and other necessities for the family.
Another example of this is a hospital located in Florida, which lost structural integrity of the roof and flooded on the lower floors – meaning critical hospital operations are taking place in the middle floors and not operating at full capacity. Limbach responded quickly, is currently working with them and is committed to restoring these critical operations by making much-needed repairs.
Both examples show the commitment Limbach has to its employees and communities – a true demonstration of “We Care” in action.
Integrity, accountability, innovation
Not only is the company as a whole committed to assisting their customers, but individual contributors are also just as dedicated. “We offer services to our customers that are only as good as the people that we have on board. It is our responsibility to make sure we're hiring and onboarding the right way. We do this by not only having the right people on board but making sure that we have the right culture to support them so that they can do their jobs most effective for the customers,” said DiMuro.
Limbach’s second stated value is around integrity – something that is fairly self-explanatory but not always easy to execute. “We do the right thing, and we also stand by our word and want our employees to understand that sometimes ‘doing the right thing’ means you have to raise issues that are not easy to talk about. We want people to be able to come forward with the idea of ‘we're doing it for a common good,’ and we want to be able to care for the company, our customers and shareholders,” said DiMuro.
Operating with integrity and having the tough conversations is not always an easy task. In reality, many organizations may choose to turn a blind eye to misconduct and avoid those difficult discussions, viewing reports of misconduct as an inconvenience to the business. Closely tied to operating with integrity is accountability, Limbach’s third cultural value.
“Our third value is around accountability. We strive to be the best and deliver on the solutions we commit to. There is no way to do that without having strong open reporting and strong open communication, because then you know everything you're dealing with, and you can address what's on the table. It's when you have a culture of undercurrents, if you’re not talking about what the issue really is, that it can become very distracting and very difficult to manage,” she said.
Fourth, and finally, is their value around innovation. “We are continuously improving to lead in the industry. And it's really hard to do that without a culture of open reporting. Maybe the best example of this is actually our safety program, known as Hearts & Minds” said DiMuro. Bring proactive and mitigating issues before something goes wrong or someone gets hurt is key to their safety practices. We work hard to win over their hearts & minds that we care about them and their loved ones. It works.
Another example is the Limbach Portal, a home-grown cloud-based repository of all of our core process tools, which drives efficiency for our employees. We are making their working lives better. We are now beating our public company peers in terms of higher gross margins. Efficiency with stronger data management is driving those better returns.
One such Hearts & Minds safety practice that sets Limbach apart is their “Stop Work” practices, wherein any employee has the power to stop work if they feel a situation is unsafe. “We have these cards that we hand out when any new employees join us, and we make sure that everyone has them on their person at all times. They are signed by our CEO, Charlie Bacon. These signal that anyone who works for us or has this card is able to stop work if they don't feel that it's safe, or there is something wrong that needs to be addressed before they feel comfortable moving on,” she said.
“While many companies talk about it, not many that I have seen always translate it to action – and the ones who do have much better cultures of open reporting as well. It really goes hand in hand.”
Not only is this practice used regularly to ensure safety of Limbach employees, customers and third parties, it is celebrated throughout the company to further promote its use. One example of Stop Work in action was a recent job site where a Limbach employee noticed someone showing symptoms of heat exhaustion. The Limbach employee took matters into their own hands and the Stop Work card was used to call for assistance and medical attention for the person experiencing heat exhaustion. Not only was this employee empowered to do the right thing, but they were also celebrated for doing so in town hall events and internal communications.
Better business through safety & compliance
“We like to set the bar on the job site for both safety, compliance, et cetera, to make sure we're living our core values – regardless of who we happen to be with. We try very hard to make sure we're selecting customers that share our values. That's a very important part of our customer engagement strategy,” said DiMuro.
“That's why it's even more important for us to have our practices be centered around a higher calling than just compliance – it is about what is the right thing to do. We do this because this is who we are. There's a difference between compliance when no one's watching, and compliance when someone is watching. I want to train everyone and have a culture where people don’t care who is watching. They're just doing the right thing.”
“There's a difference between compliance when no one's watching and compliance when someone is watching. I want to train everyone and have a culture where people don’t care who is watching. They're just doing the right thing.”
Ethics and compliance programs can be thought of in one of two ways: either a cost center to “check the box” to comply with regulations, or as a cultural foundation that enables better business in a healthy and sustainable way. For organizations that ascribe to the latter philosophy on E&C programs, there is a clear return on investment for long-term business success.
“There's enough research out there that shows companies that create safe environments – where people feel like they can be themselves at work, where there is an open culture where they feel safe enough to talk to people about what's going on, and feel like they're in control of their destiny – perform better financially. They have better customer relationships and better retention of their team members, which has a huge financial impact on the company,” says DiMuro.
No matter the industry or company size, establishing and growing a culture that promotes ethical values should be prioritized. Limbach’s story and values serve as an example of what “great” looks like – to employees, shareholders and customers alike. For more information about how Limbach promotes and lives these values, visit their website.
NAVEX is committed to supporting organizational culture through hotline and incident reporting, ethics and compliance training, policy and procedure management and more, for further information: