Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Chris Costello.
About the interviewee
Chris Costello is Principal and Founder of CBG Benefits. He started the company in 1999 along with his brother Steven, and they are quite happy to be celebrating their 15th year in business. From the very beginning, Chris has maintained the company’s mission of delivering simple, affordable and comprehensive management solutions that provide immediate impact to an employer’s bottom line.
Prior to CBG Benefits, Chris had years of experience working for large, national insurance carriers. Since moving to the Broker side of the business, he’s been passionate about translating what he knows about the “other side” of the insurance world to help small and emerging businesses to succeed when it comes to employee benefits plans and Human Resources.
Chris is passionate about helping companies implement employee benefits programs that not only meet the needs of its workforce and their families, but also enable the business to achieve its financial goals.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
CBG Benefits is a full-service employee benefits brokerage firm, headquartered in Massachusetts. Our office is about 10 minutes from downtown Boston. We have about 15 hard-working, passionate, and committed full-time employees on our staff.
Many of our employees have years of experience in the insurance and benefits industries. Thus, they’re able to deliver the true, deep expertise that our clients have come to rely on. But we also recognize that our clients need more than that from us to succeed — thus, we’ve also brought onboard employees that specialize in communication and technology. This enables us to live up to our motto, to “delivering results as an extension of your Human Resources department”. For example, we implement online, mobile-friendly portals that can be used by employers and employees. This saves significant time, money, and paperwork for companies during Open Enrollment periods. Also, we play an active role in helping our clients promote the details and value of their employee benefits plans, Workplace Wellness Programs, total compensation packages, and more.
Tell us how you show your employees that you care?
Well, it starts with making employee recognition an item that is high on our priority list! But more than that, we truly focus on personalizing the recognition that employees receive here.
We know that some may have a negative reaction if they are praised in front of the whole company too often; whereas others thrive off that type of recognition. Thus, ensure that we take that into consideration before making presentations, publicizing rewards, etc.
We also tailor the incentives and gifts that we offer to employees — some will love the Boston Celtics tickets, others (perhaps non-sports fans) will rejoice to receive an extra day off. Others may absolutely love getting to go out to lunch with the boss; for others, that may not be so enticing.
By delivering this personalized recognition, we are able to ensure that employees truly know that our entire management staff truly cares about them and recognizes what they contribute to the company.
What mistake do businesses when it comes to cultivating a strong relationship with your employees?
I think one of the biggest mistakes is that they don’t make it a priority; they don’t find time to fit it in along with their other day-to-day tasks.
As a worst-case result of that, they neglect to commend employees for their hard-work. More often though, we see that they take the easiest way out possible — perhaps that means sending a “Thank you” email. And while that certainly may be more than acceptable, it could potentially be a negative to other employees, who perhaps would appreciate face-to-face conversation/recognition.
The bottom-line is that if you truly care about your employees, you’ll put in the time to understand what makes them tick. By doing so, you’ll get to know the best way to motivate them and recognize their hard work and success.
Why is it important for your firm to make employees feel valued?
We are a small company in an industry that is undergoing a tremendous period of change, due to Health Care Reform, an uptick in mergers and acquisitions, and other factors. Thus, it’s critical that employees feel wanted and appreciated by management. If they do not feel that, and it’s coupled with the uncertainty and fear that surrounds the world of insurance, then they may not be able to deliver the commitment and service that our clients need.
Thus, it’s absolutely critical that our employees feel connected to our company; that they feel excited about coming to work each day; and that they feel that the Management team truly cares about them and is ready to support them.