Throughout my career as a Human Resources professional, I’ve often witnessed many workers struggling to achieve a balance between their work and their home lives. Many companies tout their benefits of allowing employees enough Paid Time Off (PTO) or vacation time to decompress and unwind. Some even go as far as offering unlimited PTO, which in theory, is a great benefit. However, these policies don’t often allow for an employee to take time off without any sense of guilt or even the ability to leave their laptop off and away at home or on vacation. I know this because I have personally experienced this firsthand.
Having been in the workforce for the last three decades, often in roles that demand my attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, I’ve experienced the guilt associated with taking time off. Work ethic was often equated to response time to emails or other communications regardless of other commitments in my work or personal life. This toxic culture of overwork and obsession has a lot of consequences including burnout, anxiety, and even depression.
2020 was a tumultuous year for me, but also a significant turning point in my career. I was torn between my need to work and my goal to be a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend to my loved ones. Burnout was negatively impacting my personal life, my physical health, and my mental health. I cared deeply for my colleagues, but the demands of my role paired with the stress of the emerging Covid-19 pandemic left me without any time for vacation, personal time, or family time. It was too much and I could not keep up. I knew what I was experiencing was unsustainable and it was time for a change.
This all changed when I miraculously discovered PRL, an amazing and innovative company that provides healthcare revenue cycle management (RCM) services to physician practices and ambulatory clinics. I had no previous experience working in healthcare or RCM, but I had three decades worth of professional connections to help me find the right opportunity. When I met PRL President Brian Hall for our initial conversation, I knew that his company and his team were precisely what I was looking for. My values aligned perfectly with PRL’s own mission, vision, and values.
Throughout my interviewing process, I engaged with every employee and heard them all discuss at length their positive experiences working at PRL. They all said similar things; the company’s commitment to its employees was what kept them loyal and eager to stay. At first, my cynical side didn’t believe they were being genuine, that they were prompted to tell applicants this staged story. However, my more rational and level-headed side said there was no way each of them would give me the same perspective unless it was true. Was it too good to be true? I was willing to take the risk and find out.
Well, here I am seven months later as a proud member of the PRL team. It turns out that my level-headed self had good intuition because the company could not have been a better fit for me. Brian and his leadership team developed a strong culture based on the values of innovation, integrity, and commitment and they lived it each day. This system of values defines who we are and it makes me very proud to work with such an exceptional team of dedicated professionals. It helped us power through the Covid-19 pandemic while providing security and comfort for all of the employees during an uncertain and unprecedented time.
As I became more integrated into the company I realized that I had an opportunity to apply all of my past experiences at PRL to help create an amazing work environment. Together, we developed processes and policies based on PRL’s values that complemented the workforce. Now that Covid-19 is (hopefully) subsiding, we are embarking on a return to the office campaign. We’re allowing each employee to decide what’s right for their work arrangements, their families, and their comfort. We want our employees to feel valued, respected and considered.
When it’s time for vacation, we tell people: fully disconnect and recharge. When it’s time for work, we tell our employees to bring their whole selves to the office everyday. However, we maintain a strong company culture that prioritizes diversity, inclusion, and meaningful productivity so our employees can bring their whole selves back home to their loved ones after work. Treating employees with empathy and consideration is only one part of the equation though.
Despite our best efforts, sometimes we fall short. Many companies that fall short often brush their problems under the rug and pretend that everything is fine. This is not the case at PRL. We expect employees to self-advocate and speak up when something isn’t right. There are policies and procedures in place that make this process for employees easy and equitable. Instead of offering an anonymous hotline for reporting problems, we grant employees full access to all the key leaders in the company. We listen carefully to employees’ feedback, understand their perspective, and treat them with dignity. Brian Hall even has an open door policy where any employee, no matter their role or seniority, can approach him with feedback.
Accountability is important to all of us. When we make mistakes, we own up to them, but also learn, grow, and improve from them. Honesty, integrity, and transparency are coded right into our company’s DNA. As a result, we build better relationships and have more credibility with our employees, our partners, and our customers.
These core beliefs and values extend beyond PRL and into our community. We believe that the community thrives when we give back to them through PRL’s extensive volunteerism and philanthropic efforts. Everyone, including employees and leadership, participates in this culture of giving back. It helps give us a better sense of purpose while humbling ourselves and learning the importance of empathy and generosity.
Today I feel satisfied, fulfilled, and re-energized working at PRL. With all of these beliefs and values, it should come as no surprise to those who know me that I am to the moon with delight having found such a talented group who are like-minded and share similar values on work, family, and balance. I know all too well that many workers out there struggle to feel a sense of belonging to a team. For those who do, I say it’s time to make a change. If you believe the time has come to make a change, I encourage you to reach out to me. I would be glad to teach you more about our team, our values, and our company. I extend an open invitation for a phone call, cup of coffee, Zoom meeting, or whatever medium you choose.
I am so lucky to have found PRL and a new sense of belonging and purpose. Each day I am more grateful for this opportunity to work with such a great company.
Shannon is the Director of Talent Management and Development at PRL. She joined the team in 2020, bringing over 20 years of experience in human resource management and leadership. In her free time, Shannon enjoys skiing New England’s many slopes and spending time with her family. You can contact her by email, phone, or by connecting on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn: Shannon Hathaway