Heather Schwab, SPHR
Vice President of Human Resources, Vora Ventures
Business-based workplace initiatives aren’t the only means by which leaders elevate an organization’s human capital. Sometimes, leading fun fundraising events with a community advocate perspective gets the job done. Just ask Heather Schwab, Vice President of Human resources for Vora Ventures, a group of software, services and infrastructure solutions companies headquartered in Blue Ash that employs more than 2,100 people worldwide.
“We ran our first United Way campaign last fall. Mahendra (Vora, founder and executive chairman) said he wanted the company to be in the Top 10 new employers for the United Way campaign,” Schwab says. “We wanted to go big. So, we had a huge breakfast at our Blue Ash location where executives were the servers. Mahendra was walking around with the coffee pot. All our presidents and vice presidents were the servers, cooks and hosts. Everyone got to boss us around. They loved it. Then we had a big presentation. We also held an ice cream social – which was more laid-back – at another location because the employees there work in a more laid back environment. It really struck home.”
For events like that and others, Vora Ventures was named the 2016 Top New Business Participant by the United Way of Greater Cincinnati after raising $35,000 during its internal two-month campaign. The money was used to help fight childhood poverty and hunger in the Greater Cincinnati area. The most the company had raised in charitable giving in the past for any given campaign was $1,500.
“You have to know your people and how to engage them in a way that is meaningful for them, otherwise initiatives flop,” Schwab says. “Our people really stepped up, and it was amazing. If you can tap into some of these feel-good projects where people go back to their desks feeling like they have made a difference, they will be more productive, and it all comes together.”
Another key initiative enhancing Vora Ventures’ human capital is the company’s comprehensive wellness program that gives employees the freedom to get up and move during the workday and not feel perceived by their managers as unproductive. There is also an on-site fitness center that offers yoga and meditation classes. The company’s walking club is great way for employees to get their bodies moving and their minds brainstorming, or they can just talk about their weekend plans. It’s important that employees connect socially as well professionally, Schwab says.
Overall, championing today’s workforce – often a mix of Baby Boomers and Millennials – requires an open environment where people feel comfortable telling leadership what they need, Schwab says. There must be mutual accountability, respect and trust. A healthy balance of give and take.
“Let your employees know you are there for them. Figure out what makes your people tick as individuals. Everyone is different with different motivations. People need to know that they matter, that they are contributing value. You cannot motivate a person who doesn’t feel valued.”