BE Blogs: A Voice for Responsible Business

As part of our sustainability pledge to discuss best practices openly and honestly, we share insights that allow others to effect change in their community. While companies have responsibility to drive change internally, we believe they also can add to their insights and impact by sharing their experience with others.

Come by often to read the latest news, subscribe to our blog via email or RSS reader. Even better, join the conversation and share your ideas on how business can be a force for good in your community and environment.

BE Profiles HireBetter: How a Lean, Green Team Helps Companies Make Great Hiring Decisions

One of our goals at BusinessEarth is to prove that socially and environmentally responsible business is possible and profitable. When we find a company that embodies these principles, we highlight their achievements and challenges so you can apply their lessons to your business. BusinessEarth invested in HireBetter in early 2011, and with it has shown how a unique company structure allows them to deliver more value to their clients while enriching their employees’ lives.

From the very beginning, HireBetter was a unique company.  Jonathan Davis, the company’s founder, set out to create an organization that focused only on things that added value.  By eschewing many “normal” business ideas and honing down on what truly matters, HireBetter has been delivering top-notch service to its clients while enriching the lives of its stakeholders since 2004.  Their business model is rewarding to their employees, good for the environment, and most importantly, highly effective.

About HireBetter

HireBetter is, at its core, a recruitment process outsourcing – or RPO firm.  HireBetter works with fast growing, middle market companies to determine how their workforce can be improved, and it helps clients promote, recruit and hire the A-players that they need (and rave about) to grow to the “next level.”


“Always add value. Always.”

When they started, Jonathan took a holistic look at what the business would and wouldn’t need to be successful.  He knew that HireBetter’s workforce needed to be dependable, flexible, and creative.  He also realized that in order to serve it’s clients needs across the U.S. and at all hours of the day, HireBetter would benefit from a team that was geographically dispersed across the country.

Jonathan also noticed a few things that HireBetter didn’t need.  Many companies would, without even considering the alternatives, build their business around a centralized office with conventional hours.  But HireBetter concluded that their clients didn’t really get any value out of that.  The Internet made it possible for most of the work to be done from just about anywhere.  So instead using an outdated, expensive, and inefficient model, he structured the company so that telecommuters could do the majority of the day-to-day client service.


The work at home mom phenomenon

In order to staff this unique company, HireBetter needed a different kind of workforce.  They found that “work at home moms” (WAHMs) had just the right make-up and skillset that HireBetter desired.  Moms are naturally creative, organized, and dependable, which is just what the young company needed.  And HireBetter’s virtual model was perfect for moms who may need to work unconventional hours to continue to be “on-call” for their families.

The WAHM phenomenon has allowed thousands of women who would have otherwise been left out of the workforce to enjoy real, meaningful employment while still being available for their families.  HireBetter’s expertise is based on making sure that top talent is used in the most productive way, and WAHMs possess a wealth of talent that is too amazing to let idle away.


No success at work is worth failure at home*

In order to make a great working environment for WAHMs, HireBetter places work-life balance as a top priority.  Family always comes before work, period.  HireBetter has figured out that placing family first actually results in outstanding service for its clients.  In fact, because HireBetter’s employees know that they have the company’s support, they are happier, more creative, and more productive…and clients rave about its service.  A company that truly cares creates value for its employees, its clients, and itself.


Telecommuting is lean, green, and it works!

By employing a workforce centered on telecommuting, HireBetter saves time, money, and the environment.  Employees spend the thousands of hours that would have otherwise been wasted in traffic, serving clients and their families.  Traditional commuting is also expensive and, often, very harmful to the environment.  By not needing an office big enough to house all of their employees, HireBetter also saves money (and carbon) in facilities costs; savings which it passes along to clients.

Though HireBetter’s management team meets in person and will travel to work with clients, most of the employees work exclusively out of their homes.  In order to keep everyone in touch, the team has group phone calls, shares pictures and stories via a team intranet, and stays in close contact with each other by instant messaging every day.  Many of HireBetter’s employees have never even met in person, but the collaborative nature of the company and the work has created a very tight-knit group.


How values add value

Today, with BusinessEarth’s Founder, Kurt Wilkin, serving as its Managing Partner, HireBetter enables work at home moms to use their unique professional skills and situations, while their clients get to reap the benefits.  The company’s low-overhead, highly flexible model allows them to deliver top-notch service to every client in a cost-effective way.  While minimizing wasted resources and maximizing work-life balance, they have and continue to help companies around the country hire better.

If you’re interested in getting a better talent management strategy, or you just want to learn more about the company, contact HireBetter.

*This is the mantra of Maxwell, Locke, & Ritter, an Austin-based accounting firm.

Get in the Game: Use Gamification to Drive Sustainable Action

Sep 27, 2011   //   by Bradley Short   //   Blog, Marketing & Communication, Technology  //  2 Comments

For many customers, green has lost a lot of its luster.  Yes, consumers care about the environment.  Yes, they reward good corporate citizens and punish bad ones.  And yes, sustainable companies often outperform the general market.  But mainstream America still has yet to embrace green practices as the norm.  How do we revive mass-market sustainability now that the “green party” is over?  How do we take green from niche to normal?

How to create behavior change:

Enter Gamification.  As explained in the video below, “gamification is the process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences and solve problems.”  In simpler terms, gamification takes the same reward systems that make games fun and applies them to real life actions.

Games are designed to push the little buttons in our brains that signal rewards for certain behaviors (which is also why they’re so addictive).  If you can align your green product or service with that primitive desire, you’ll reap profits while we all receive environmental benefits.


So what does gamification have to do with sustainability?

Game mechanics can take an idea that is sometimes associated with guilt: green, and turn it into a competitive and engaging social activity.  What if “green living” turned from a culturally divisive lifestyle choice into a friendly competition?


How would this look in practice?

For this illustration, let’s use a public transportation company.  It could be a bus system, a subway; it doesn’t matter.  What if this PT system successfully designed an online game where users competed against their peers to earn rewards by utilizing public transportation rather than driving places?   Users would earn points by swiping their metro card, and by doing so, would achieve a higher status in their online world.  They’d compete on things such as pounds of carbon saved, or gasoline saved, or something of the sort.  Furthermore, they would be able to see the points and status of closely ranked friends, and the service would tell them how to “beat” the person directly above them, encouraging deeper engagement.

Of course there are environmental flaws in a system like this, but you get the point.  Soon enough, riding the bus isn’t about saving a couple of bucks on gas, it’s about beating your friends and becoming the winner…for now.


Now, come up with your own ideas!

Our example is enough to get the point across, but you all probably have much better ideas.  How would you use gamification strategies to drive your customers (or your employees) to green action?  And for a deeper explanation of gamification and its opportunities, check out the video below.    It might just make for the most interesting hour of your day.


Image used under Creative Commons from harrisonweber.

Green Products Play by the Same Rules, So Put Customers First!

Sep 8, 2011   //   by Bradley Short   //   Blog, Energy, Leadership, Metrics & ROI  //  No Comments

In business, all roads lead to the customer.  Whether you’re selling fabric softener, alarm clocks, or electric vehicles, this is true.  Last week, GreenBiz ran an article describing three ways that plug-in EVs (electric vehicles) could make it in the mass market.  Reading it made me realize that all three of their recommendations could be boiled down to overarching challenges green (and even non-green) products face.  And below them all remains the point that can’t be said enough: Always focus on the customer, not the product.



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