Scientific excellence requires a host of ingredients: dedication, attention to detail, resilience, innovation. Each of these, in turn, relies on having a staff that’s both talented and committed to solving difficult problems.
In other words, says OMRF President Dr. Steve Prescott, “The key is people. They have to believe in the scientific mission of the institution. And they have to be excited about their jobs and being here every day.”
Judging from the results of The Oklahoman newspaper’s 2017 Top Workplaces competition, OMRF’s staff is. Based on employee responses to a confidential online questionnaire, OMRF took the top spot in the category of large organizations (350-plus workers).
An independent polling firm conducts the survey, which includes as many as 800 workplaces each year. It asks workers to rate their employers on a variety of factors that include job satisfaction, management quality, pay and benefits, and opportunities for growth. The firm then uses the responses to rank employers from across Oklahoma.
In each of the previous four years of the survey, OMRF finished in the top 10. But, says OMRF Vice President of Human Resources Courtney Stevens Greenwood, this year’s top ranking is particularly special. “It’s quite an honor to be named number one by your own employees.”
One of the factors that makes OMRF special, she says, is the diversity of the workforce. “We have employees here from almost 30 different countries,” she says. “They bring fresh ideas and different approaches, and that really supercharges our organization.”
To encourage co-workers to get to know one another, OMRF holds monthly “First Thirstday” gatherings. They’re foundation-wide events with free food and beverages, and some months they feature a trivia contest or a musical performance by an employee. “The idea is to create opportunities for staff from different parts of OMRF to bump into one another in a fun, low-pressure setting,” says Greenwood.
Another hub is OMRF’s employee fitness center, which offers boot camps, yoga and fitness classes like Zumba and kick-boxing. By participating in fitness challenges, they can earn “LifeLab” points, which can translate into year-end financial rewards.
For OMRF scientist Dr. Chris Sansam, who came to OMRF from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2010, even small things can help take some of the stress out of work. “I’ve had jobs in the past where I had to walk 15-20 minutes from my car to my office,” he says. “It really makes a difference in your day when you can park just steps away from the entrance to your building.”
Accounting clerk Nancy Flesher says OMRF’s generous vacation and sick leave policies make a major difference in her life. “I’m a caregiver for my elderly mother, and OMRF has given me the flexibility to take the time I need to spend with her and still do my job. That’s important to me.”
While perks are nice, says Sansam, ultimately, they’re secondary. “When I came to OMRF, I noticed right away that the people who work here—at all levels—really care about doing a good job. When you see that attitude around you day after day, it makes you want to do a better job yourself.”