Join us as Joel sits down with Ari Medoff, CEO of Arosa, to discuss his passion for creating a uniquely flat org structure, working on the frontlines as a CEO, creating a lasting impact on frontline employees, and so much more in this first episode!
What is Arosa and who are you?
Arosa is a national provider, we're in 8 states, with almost 30 offices. We provide the best in-home senior care that's personal, non-medical care to the elderly, and care management services. These are expert social workers, nurses, occupational therapists who really act as guides and navigators to families and the clients themselves as they go through the aging journey. We are a social enterprise, a for-profit with our mission is to attract, train, retain, and treasure the best care professionals. The past year or two, being a great employer has become ever more important and ever more publicized and recognized as being important. We have had that mission as the top part of our DNA since 2012.
"Attract, Retain, Train, and Treasure." "Treasure" is a very specific word choice, share a little more about that.
It is...treasuring our care professionals, treasuring everyone who works in the company is vitally important. We are in a unique business model, we were a distributed, almost gig-like workforce before other companies came about. We operate in a thousand places at a thousand times a day. We have to be really creative about how we say thank you. We have to be really creative about how we communicate with one another. We have to be really creative about how we make everyone on the team feel a part of something bigger than themselves because when they go to work every day, they are not coming to an Arosa office. How do we make everyone feel proud to be a part of Arosa? That takes treasuring them.
That means we choose some unique holidays to celebrate like Mother's Day is a paid holiday. We celebrate worldwide gratitude day on September 21st and that dovetails with our top core value which is to be ambitious while humble and grateful. Treasure to me means showing gratitude, it means saying thank-you wherever we can because you have to be observant to say thank you. You have to pay attention. We all want to be recognized for the good work that we do.
I imagine you deal with losing employees and attracting them can be difficult. How does that impact your employees?
On a micro-level, when our employees are recipients of that treasuring, then it makes a huge difference. Last week, I went to Emerald Isle NC to take our caregiver teammate Carol out to lunch because she was celebrating her 89th birthday. We took her out to a great lunch, gave her a beautiful gift box with 90 scratch-off lottery tickets and we already have plans for her 90th next year. On a micro level, it has a tremendous impact.
The question in challenge for us is how do we do that on a much broader basis. I personally can't take every employee out to lunch on his or her birthday, I do try to call and sing, and that's a joke because my voice leaves something to be desired. How do you scale that kind of culture of gratitude is something we work at every day. It starts with a mutual commitment so one of our KPI's as a management team is writing thank you notes every single week and we hold each other accountable to that.
How does this impact your turnover at a macro level? How are you seeing that trend as you attack it internally with gratitude?
We're about 20% better than the industry average. We're in an industry, as you alluded to, that has a high industry turnover. Part of that is because the jobs we are providing are not high enough paid, they don't come with enough benefits, and the ties are generally loose because we are not together in one place every day. Industry turnover also happens because of the nature of demand. We're serving seniors, the elderly, who are aging or sick. Our clients pass away eventually, and hopefully at home if that's where they choose. Our clients sometimes move from home into a senior living community, and in the best case in terms of turnover, our clients recover - we get fired. That leads to high industry turnover overall because there's no client that's going to live forever.
How many steps removed are you from your frontline workers?
Depends on the day. I am wearing a polo shirt today, but I have my scrubs upstairs, I'm a CNA myself. At times when we have schedule changes for caregiver teammates, or sometimes on holidays, I'm providing that direct care myself. So some days I'd say zero. Most days I'm speaking directly with caregiver teammates.
I'm going to pull a quote that you can expand on: "Giving back is the rent we pay for being on this earth and you feel like doing the little things that make a big difference in the lives of others, and feeling like what you're doing is meaningful." Say more about that.
This was instilled in me at a young age. My grandpa Jean, he was lying in a hospital bed, I was about 11, we came to visit him and he had been in the hospital for months post-heart surgery. My older sister Kara was the most phenomenal student, she was proud of her grades and couldn't wait to tell Grandpa Jean about his latest report card. In his weakened state, he said, "That's all well and good, but I don't care about that. Did you do something to help people today?" That ethos that you have to build community, help others, and if you're not doing that, what are you doing? Nothing else really matters. It was instilled in me very early.
What's something that you believe that if everyone else in the world believed too, would make the world a better place?
There's absolutely no substitute for showing up. This is embedded in one of our three core values, walk a mile to build relationships, in a world today where it's easier to do a zoom call than meet for a coffee, where there are a lot of software systems that will send an automated thank you message, there's no substitute for building those in-person relationships.