At Development Dimensions International, it pays off for workers -- and the company
Share with others:
Bob Donaldson, Post-Gazette
Senior Vice President Rich Wellins stands next to a wall of monitors in the videotape room at Development Dimensions International in Collier. The company uses video tapes of job candidates in simulated settings to help companies improve their hiring processes.
For the last 37 years, Development Dimensions International has made a science out of creating a happy and productive work force. Founded by organizational psychologist William Byham, the consulting company helps some of the world's largest corporations improve their workplace cultures and hiring processes.
Lucky for the people who work there, DDI follows its own advice. The flexibility, stimulating work and encouraging environment at its Collier offices landed DDI in the top spot as a place to work among Pittsburgh-area business with more than 500 employees.
"Our business is creating better workplaces," said Rich Wellins, a senior vice president. "We have to hold ourselves to the same standard that we encourage in others."
DDI, which employs about 600 locally and 1,100 company-wide through 75 offices in 26 countries, has experienced tremendous growth of late, reflecting the increased emphasis companies are putting on creating desirable workplace environments that are capable of motivating and retaining new hires and existing workers. The private firm says revenue has grown in the double-digits the past four years, to $155.1 million in the past year, when it also added 250 employees .
The Post-Gazette asked readers what they think of their workplaces and their working conditions. Read a sampling of their responses here.
Its trademark is putting job applicants -- both for DDI and the companies it works for -- through intensive simulations that are recorded and graded. A prospect for an executive-level position, for example, might be given a fictional company to run, all the while dealing with an onslaught of e-mails and various meetings with employees.
"Part of our premise is that behavior predicts behavior," said Mr. Wellins, who holds a Ph.D. in organizational psychology. "We've designed hundreds of simulations."
Each employee that interviews for a position at DDI goes through four to 12 hours of interviews, tests and simulations, depending on how high-level the job is. The process ensures that the company hires employees that not only have the technical expertise to do their jobs, but also have the proper motivation, said Mr. Wellins.
DDI employees say that the hiring process must be pretty effective, because they universally commend their co-workers. "I've just felt in other places there are a couple of good apples," said Jazmine Espejo, a research consultant. "Here it's the whole basket."
Seeing the DDI process work internally also helps when pitching the services to other companies. "Everything that we sell, we are using for ourselves," said Nora Schoenthal, a consultant in executive solutions who moved to Pittsburgh from DDI's Germany office. "I don't feel like I'm selling anything just to sell it. It makes sense to me."
DDI employees also appreciate the flexibility they are granted to do their jobs. Mark Hamilton, manager of interactive services, telecommutes about half the time rather than make the 50 mile drive from Lisbon, Ohio.
Mr. Wellins said that one of his employees is now working from Florida, where she moved to care for her elderly father, and that the head of the North American consulting group works out of Cleveland.
Other large companies that performed well in the Post-Gazette online survey also were commended on programs that helped employees feel like the company cared about them, despite the fact that they were just one of hundreds of thousand of employees.
"We are a large company but a cohesive unit," said Laura Miller of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, which finished third among large companies.
"It is a rarity someone wants to leave to go find a better job as there isn't anything better out there."
Both Citizens Bank, which finished second in the survey, and GSK Consumer Healthcare offer perks such as tuition assistance. At DDI, employees receive such perks as a low-fee gym in the building and international award trips for top performers in sales and consulting. In fact, most of the company's top executives were in Rome on such a trip earlier this month.
But more than the extra perks, employees appreciate the opportunities for advancement as the company grows, and the support offered to its employees.
"We're empowered to do our jobs," said Janice Burns, a senior consultant who has worked at DDI for 10 years. "I can't think of anything I've ever asked for that has been denied."
First Published March 20, 2007 12:00 am