Triage Methodically Develops Its Employees

By Desda Moss Jul 1, 2007
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HR Magazine, July 2007 #6 Small Company on the 2007 Best Small & Medium Companies To Work for in America List

Its Friday at Triage Consulting Group, a health care financial consulting firm overlooking San Francisco Bay that employs a staff of more than 200 consultants. Today, employees work in teams with their desks arranged in clusters to review figures that are vital to the firms business of analyzing and recovering managed-care payments to its clients -- hospitals.

Because employees travel to client worksites Monday through Thursday three weeks each month, Fridays often end with a company party. On todays agenda: a celebration to mark the engagements of several Triage employees.

This unique mix of analytical and affable, serious and social, is emblematic of Triage, which ranks No. 6 on this years list of the Best Small Companies to Work for in America. Founded in 1994, the firm has a corporate culture that is collegial, fun, hard-charging, says cofounder Patti Lee-Hoffmann.

Just as it takes an analytical approach to serving its clients, the firm takes a similar approach to supporting its employees, providing them with ongoing training, continuous feedback and a focus on work/life balance.

We see the business case for having happy employees who are well trained, who know what they need to work on, and who are rewarded. That helps us give better customer service, and that makes us more profitable, says Lee-Hoffmann. The strategy seems to work. Last year, the fast-growing firm opened a second office in Atlanta with about 30 employees.

Much of Triages success is attributable to the way it finds and develops talent. The companys staffing model involves recruiting graduates from about a dozen universities who have bachelors degrees primarily in a business- or science-related field and a minimum GPA of 3.0.

New hirescalled associatesspend their first four days in the headquarters office learning about Triages culture, values and work. They get an overview of the managed-care industry and learn how the work that Triage does fits into the process. Over the course of their first year, associates participate in 15 training modules led by in-house and outside experts. Every six weeks, associates receive training in core business and health care-related skills to prepare them for the next level of their career.

To get the most out of its training, the firm constantly fine-tunes its offerings by asking employees for feedback on the topics timeliness and relevance and by noting areas indicated for development on employees evaluations, says HR Director Vanna J. Shir.

The company is just as methodical in its approach to performance evaluations, which are given to employees -- as well as the managers who lead each team -- at the completion of every project, usually about four times a year.

Backed by the firms strong training program and its emphasis on promoting from within, high-performing entrylevel employees can be tapped to manage their own project and a direct report after 21 months with the company.

Every project you work on offers career development. There are a lot of opportunities to learn, says Kaitlyn Marini, who joined Triage in 2005 and was promoted to senior associate in April.

Triages compensation strategy also reinforces the companys focus on teamwork. Employees at the same career level receive the same pay. They can only earn more through merit bonuses, with each employee having a vote in determining who receives a bonus based on their contributions to the firms success during the year. The top vote getters are announced at the companys annual State of Triage meeting.

The companys commitment to work/life balance provides opportunities for employees to get involved in social responsibility efforts. Each year, the company celebrates its birthday by organizing a day devoted to community projects. Throughout the year, employees may take up to eight hours of paid time off to participate in volunteer activities. One of the most rewarding things about my job is being able to do things in the community, says Mark Sithi, a newly promoted senior associate who works with elementary schoolchildren in San Francisco. I feel like Im 75 percent forprofit and 25 percent nonprofit. I love being able to do that.

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Video Profile: Triage 

List of Best Small Companies to Work for in America, 2007 

List of Best Medium Companies to Work for in America, 2007 

50 Best Small & Medium Companies To Work for in America home page

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