It’s no easy task to create a working environment in which employees know they are valued, are encouraged to grow and thrive in their jobs, and voluntarily convey their admiration for their workplace. But the leadership at the Houston-based independent insurance agency, Iscential Inc., has done just that.
In Insurance Journal’s 2021 Best Agencies to Work For survey, employee after employee praised the agency’s focus on building an organization in which leadership and co-workers respect and admire one another, and where the prospects for ongoing professional development are wide open.
Through an online nomination process employees rank their agency’s performance in various categories and comment on why they think their workplace is the best. Iscential has been selected as IJ’s 2021 Bronze Best Agency to Work For in the South Central region on the strength of its employees’ responses to the Best Agencies survey.
“Iscential Inc. is an amazing environment to work in!” one employee wrote in the comment section of the survey.
Another said: “The opportunity is unlimited at Iscential. If you shoot for the stars you can carve out your own piece of financial security.”
Still another wrote: “Iscential cares about its people more than anything else. The company invests in everyone who wants to grow and develop, even if that means someone developing themselves out of Iscential and into another organization. No one is a number, and that applies to clients and employees, and it really does feel like a family.”
CEO Warren Barhorst, who founded agency, says with 99 employees and 50 independent contractor agents, Iscential has annual revenues of $15 million to $20 million.
“From the inception,” Barhorst said, “my goal has always been to make it someplace I would want to work. Iscential is great because there are set career paths and ways to progress in the organization. We love bringing on inexperienced talent and training them our way. … For a 150-person organization, we have done a really good job of creating scalable training and rotational programs to progress everyone’s career. I often say my mission for our associates is to make them more employable through skill enhancement, professional development, and industry knowledge. Our culture is also very entrepreneurial. We are constantly launching new products, taking on new projects, and creating new roles for people. It is most definitely a growth mentally, and we have to be a little bit fearless — that is what also makes us special though.”
Throughout the survey, Iscential employees lauded the agency’s emphasis on professional development and the opportunities for advancement.
“I have enjoyed watching the agency grow into the company it has become. It is a wonderful place to work and learn. We are encouraged to continue to learn, even if that means you outgrow the company!” wrote one survey respondent.
Another praised the agency’s “amazing” culture and atmosphere, adding: “Everyone is treated with the utmost respect, regardless of their position. Iscential provides opportunities for Continuing Education and also pays for you to obtain designations. I have never been happier with a job!
For Barhorst, it’s all about helping people. “It’s the reason why I started the company almost 30 years ago. In fact, the first requirement on many of our job descriptions is ‘must have a passion for helping others.’ Without that piece, we are nothing. I feel that this aspect of the way we do business also permeates our culture internally and that makes me really proud. Everyone here wants each other and the organization to succeed as a whole. …
“I am just so proud we are making a place where people of all different backgrounds and work experience can flourish. I think that is because at the end of the day it all comes down to people and that is our focus.”
He added that the agency values the “evolution of the individual as a whole, not just as an employee.”
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