Tom Gimbel’s Secret Sauce

Casey Gordon | August 25, 2016

“I don’t have the secret sauce,” says LaSalle Network founder and CEO Tom Gimbel, speaking about what it takes to make a great company culture.

Tom totally has the secret sauce.

Tom started LaSalle Network in 1998 (i.e. way before it was glamorous to start your own business at the age of 26). For perspective: a couple of Stanford PhD candidates named Larry and Sergey started Google in 1998.

LaSalle Network is a staffing firm born out of Tom’s belief that the best work cultures start and end with a big heart: treating people not just fairly, but treating them well, and investing generously in their personal and professional growth. As an employer Tom has always strived to practice what he preaches, and we’d say he’s done a damn good job.

A quick history lesson: After mortgaging his house so that he could afford his first two employees, Tom spent the next eighteen years — including nine in a row on INC’s 500/5000 lists — growing the LaSalle team into 150 strong. Keep in mind that during this time, LaSalle weathered two recessions and the dot com boom without so much as a single layoff.

A thriving workplace culture has always been and always will be the keystone of LaSalle’s success. Consider this: the staffing industry has perhaps the highest turnover rate in the nation at close to 300%. LaSalle’s annual voluntary turnover rate? Less than 4%.

Or take for example that millennials make up 90% of the LaSalle workforce, yet the average tenure of employees is longer than four years (the national average for millennials is less than two).

Why stop there? 90% of LaSalle’s management team has been promoted from within, and a full 50% of LaSalle’s executive leadership started in entry-level roles and average twelve years with the company.

Clearly, LaSalle has a very strong commitment to its people’s growth, and clearly its people have a very strong commitment to LaSalle.

Tom is most definitely onto something, and while he’ll be the first to tell you that culture is an ever-changing recipe, we also know that everything tastes better with a dash of secret sauce.

Tom shares 5 ways for companies with small budgets to invest in employee relationships and wellbeing:

1. You have to care. Don’t just hire people for their book of business. You actually have to like the people you’re working with.

2. Training and development. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. It is a serious time investment — and arguably the best investment you can make.

3. Laugh it up. We spend a third to half of our waking time working. People need to enjoy themselves on the job. If you need to get a joke book, get a joke book.

4. Creativity. Find new ways to get people excited about what goes on day-to-day. Celebrating small wins is a great place to start.

5. Bring your life to work. Work should feel like a part of people’s lives, not something to be kept separate. If you bring your life into the office, others will too.

FIVEinSIXTY is our interview series with leading CEOs, founders, and other executives about building amazing company culture, designing creative offices, and creating compelling employer brands.

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