Employee-focused. Employee-owned. And family. Those are the qualities employees value most at Orland Park, Ill.-based The Horton Group — winner of Insurance Journal’s Best Agencies to Work For Overall 2018 Award.
“Horton cares about work-life balance. They give so much back to their employees by providing work at home, Friday breakfasts and flex time. If you work hard, you are recognized for that hard work,” one employee wrote.
“The Horton Group is the best agency to work for because we are like one, big family,” another employee said. That’s not always an easy culture to create in an organization with more than 400 employees with 12 offices located in five states. “I work with employees who work in remote offices and still have that connection with them.”
Employees in every office receive free breakfasts on Friday, and employees gather at the agency’s corporate headquarters annually for the “Hortonpalooza,” a day of camaraderie, food and live music.
Glenn Horton, CEO and chairman, believes his family agency’s commitment to the independent agency channel and internal ownership is one reason why The Horton Group is a best place to work. “With the number of firms acquired over the past several years, this is becoming very unique, especially since we have many ways for an employee to become an owner,” Horton said.
The Horton Group was founded in 1971 as a small, eight-person family owned insurance agency specializing in auto and home insurance for individuals. Today, the agency writes more than $72.4 million in revenue with more than 400 employees, specializing in construction, municipalities, transportation, manufacturing, nonprofits, education and hospitality.
Clear, open and transparent communication with employees is critical when creating a good place to work environment, Horton said.
“We share everything, including financial information.” Sometimes that means sacrificing short-term profits to support better long-term employee experiences, he said. That’s OK. “We perform very well financially, but make employee experience an equal priority to financial results.”
The Horton Group invests in its people, too. The agency is committed to providing internal advancement opportunities for employees and invests in training and development resources.
“I started as an intern with Horton 17 years ago … They always supported my development and presented opportunities to move up in the firm,” one employee said.
Horton’s advice: “Try to create an environment where the interests of the company and its employees are aligned.” Then, make sure it is more than just rhetoric. “In this type of business, our employees are by far our most important assets. Our most important assets go home every night and they don’t have to come back.”
Make sure they want to come back, he said.
“Being good for our employees and creating an excellent employee experience is as important as any financial or business metric,” Horton said. “To be considered a great place to work you have to start with intention. You have to care. Then you have to be willing to support your intention in many areas, including compensation, training, benefits, culture and quality of leadership.”
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