Insider Insight on How SilcoTek Drives Employee Satisfaction AND Revenue

November 9, 2021

By Cara Aungst

Company culture matters. Businesses with strong core values have united leaders, happier, more engaged talent, and, ultimately, a better bottom line. CultureIQ reports that companies with strong cultures have seen a 4x increase in revenue growth. And companies that have appeared on Fortune’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list also see higher average annual returns, with cumulative returns as high as 495%. So what’s the recipe for strong company culture? SilcoTek is glad you asked. 

Since 2018, SilcoTek has repeatedly been listed as one of the 100 Best Places to Work in PA, a ranking that studies company benefits and practices and then surveys every employee to gauge engagement and satisfaction. 

“There are three aspects to a high-performance culture,” says SilcoTek founder and head coach Paul Silvis:

  • Create an atmosphere of safety where employees come to work without fear and feel a sense of belonging as family. 
  • Cultivate leaders who show vulnerability. Leaders are not “bosses,” but are partners to help employees be successful. 
  • Communicate a sense of purpose.

We interviewed six SilcoTek leaders to find out more about how they foster a company culture that drives success and employee satisfaction. 

SilcoTek has repeatedly been listed as one of the 100 Best Places to Work in PA.

Tell me about SilcoTek’s culture. Why is it important? 

It’s the engine that guides us in decisions and actions. Family-first, open, honest, in-the-light, servant leadership: All are for making sure we have a culture that creates a good place to come to work. — Gary Barone, Director of Engineering and Business Development

SilcoTek’s culture drives everything at the organization. Years ago, the acronym FISHING (see sidebar) was developed for SilcoTek, to drive the core values and establish a framework for a culture that allows a foundation for long-term growth. Intentionally or intuitively, they incorporated concepts from countless management and scholarly works on how to create the right corporate culture. Those core values allow success. — Geoffrey K. White, General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel

SilcoTek’s culture is unlike any other company I have worked for. At other places I have worked, core values were nothing more than words on a website; most employees couldn’t even tell you what they were. I know I couldn’t (and I worked in HR!). At SilcoTek, we not only know our core values, but we believe in them, practice them and use them to keep ourselves and others on track. — Ashley Molek, Human Resources Generalist

How does strong culture impact your profitability? 

Engaged employees feel valued and respected for their work. Their enthusiasm infects customers, creating raving fans that savor the Plus One customer service. Customers can “feel” employees genuinely care very much about SilcoTek’s products and work hard to wow our customers with unprecedented service.  — Paul Silvis, Founder and Head Coach

We never put profitability before culture or employee satisfaction, especially in management discussions, but it’s nice to know that our focus on a strong culture with happy employees just happens to also help improve the bottom line. — Luke Patterson, Marketing Manager

SilcoTek’s cultural foundation allows our team to consistently innovate and that drives revenue. Innovation is broader than just inventions and patents — it covers how we operate and how we help customers. The cultural foundation also allows conversations and ideas that allow us to be more efficient, reduce risk and otherwise eliminate waste. — Geoffrey K. White, General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel

I strongly believe that the reason our turnover is so incredibly low is because employees enjoy coming to work, which is driven by our positive company culture. Employees who enjoy their jobs are happier, more engaged and work harder because they love what they do. — Ashley Molek, Human Resources Generalist

“Great salaries and benefit packages attract them, but a great company culture is what keeps them,” Ashley Molek says.

As a company leader, how do you cultivate a positive work culture? 

By genuinely caring about those who work at SilcoTek and putting the right players in the right positions, giving them tools, training and encouragement so they can be star players while creating a championship team that everyone wants to play on. — Paul Silvis, Founder and Head Coach

Finding the “and” in decisions, hearing all sides of a story, assuming best intentions and that everyone comes to work to do a good job. — Gary Barone, Director of Engineering and Business Development

As a leader, I make sure that my team has the tools, equipment and support they need. I jump in and help when necessary and walk in their shoes. Communication and mutual respect is key to servant leadership. — Maddie Lee, Customer Service Manager

What are employees looking for in company culture? 

Employees are looking for a company culture that treats them like a human being. People want to come to work with people who have positive attitudes, try their best and have fun. Great salaries and benefit packages attract them, but a great company culture is what keeps them. — Ashley Molek, Human Resources Generalist

It is amazing that other companies do not think about transparency and empathy, but those seem to be what employees want. People in general want to know that you are thinking things through and not ignoring their needs. By focusing on the process and allowing input to the process, a thorough analysis can be performed and varied needs can be met. — Geoffrey K. White, General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel

Besides the basics of good pay and benefits, I think employees are looking to feel like they’re making an impact on not only the company but also the world, even if in the smallest way. It’s human nature to want to be a part of something bigger than oneself, and any company should provide that opportunity for all their employees. — Luke Patterson, Marketing Manager

SilcoTek team at a recent company tailgate lunch.

How have you maintained your company’s culture during COVID as many employees are working remotely? 

Creating spaces and times for communication. Involving those on the other end of the screen to be involved in a meeting. Setting expectations of [the] involvement we need. — Gary Barone, Director of Engineering and Business Development

During COVID, SilcoTek had many internal discussions about how to maintain the core values of FISHING and continuously evaluated policies by that standard. To keep a connection, managers replicated a workplace with virtual calls. Videos from within the facility were sent to the remote folks to make sure they stayed connected.  — Geoffrey K. White, General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel

After many of the COVID requirements were lifted, we chose to move forward by balancing CDC recommendations, risk and employee comfort levels to develop a system that worked for everyone. We talked 1:1 with over half of our company to ask them questions, then communicated trends we found within the company and made decisions accordingly. Employees felt heard and I hope that made them feel valued. — Ashley Molek, Human Resources Generalist

A recent “Welcome back to the office” party.

What’s one piece of advice you would give a company that is just starting out to build and maintain a “best place to work’? 

When I started my entrepreneurial journey, I was a clueless geek. Rather than going exclusively to chemistry conferences, I sought out conferences that taught the best business practices that helped shape me as a leader. The growth of both Restek and SilcoTek can be directly correlated to my personal growth. It’s not how dumb you are today, it is the slope of your learning curve that determines how smart you are years later. — Paul Silvis, Founder and Head Coach

Grow your people. When they stop growing, you stop growing! — Gary Barone, Director of Engineering and Business Development

Take care of your employees and they will take care of you. — Luke Patterson, Marketing Manager

Establish core values like FISHING and embrace them. Your core values should, at a minimum, embrace transparency and empathy. Otherwise, a company will have high turnover. — Geoffrey K. White, General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel

Don’t ever forget where you came from … fail fast and learn from the mistakes, never stop learning and give it all you got! — Maddie Lee, Customer Service ManagerEvery bottom line number you look at on a spreadsheet is driven by the team of human beings in front of you. Be clear about business objectives, tell hard truths and treat everyone like a human being.  — Ashley Molek, Human Resources Generalist

Cara Aungst writes about industry, innovation and how Happy Valley ideas change the world. She can be reached with story ideas and comments at Cara@AffinityConnection.com.

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