Healthy, Safe, and High Functioning
Beacon staff at the company’s Fairbanks location.
Since Beacon Occupational Health and Safety Services was founded in 1999, the company has operated with three core values: rock star customer service, operational excellence, and have fun.
Beacon’s quest to serve every Alaskan
According to Beacon President Holly Hylen, “Part of the ‘secret sauce’ of a strong company culture is to recruit and hire like-minded folks who share our passion for serving others, being part of the community, and loving and enjoying what they do.”
Mark Hylen, Beacon’s vice president, agrees. “Really our team helps inspire that culture. Probably the biggest part of our orientation process is around our core values, so we try to inspire the elements of having fun, rock star customer service, and quality excellence at the very beginning, and then it’s really the people that embody it.”
The Hylens both recognize that Beacon’s greatest asset is its employees. Holly states, “I tell people all the time that 95 percent of our assets walk out the door every day, because it’s really our team who defines who we are and gets all the credit for the success that Beacon has been able to achieve.”
Employee retention is important to the company, and Mark says Beacon has been “blessed with very low employee turnover.” Because the company has many employees with a long history, when Beacon is looking for new talent, they value greatly any recommendations their current staff members may supply. “We do recruit through all of the normal channels, but a lot of our best hires come from employee referrals,” Holly says. “Our employees understand our culture and our expectations and do a really great job of bringing like-minded folks to the application process.”
Electric sign-on allows paperless check-in for Beacon customers.
Another natural result of hiring employee referrals is that Beacon often hires local talent. However, because Beacon offers several lines of service (including remote medical, safety solutions, clinical services, and training options), the company occasionally has to look Outside to fill specific skilled positions, especially those directly involved with healthcare. “Particularly for healthcare, it’s become a very tight market,” Mark explains. “Although we have a physician assistant program here at the University [of Alaska], you can’t place someone out in a remote setting that hasn’t had experience with emergency care and expect that person to be able to triage independently.”
New employees of every skill level receive some kind of training at Beacon, though what that training entails “varies dramatically because of our different lines of services and locations throughout Alaska,” Mark says. “When they come onboard we do orientation, and not just within whatever service line they’re working; we try to make sure that everybody has a broad understanding of the services Beacon has to offer because a lot of our success has been around clients who will contract with us for a specific service and then realize all the other things we can do. So where a client might just need a drug test, the next thing you know we’re brought in as an onsite clinic for them on the North Slope.”
One key part of retaining such a highly-skilled staff is recognizing the ways in which employees do excel. Beacon hosts large holiday parties for their employees, organizes family-friendly events, periodically treats staff to dinner, and has other activities that allow employees to feel appreciated and spend quality time with each other. Holly says, “One thing that we’re really good at is acknowledging someone when we see them going above and beyond and thanking them for representing Beacon and our value system.” She says the Beacon leadership team has a weekly call during which the team shares information about outstanding employees “so everybody is aware of what’s been seen and can then go out of their way to also thank that employee, which matters.”
Beacon has a safety division staffed with nearly fifty safety professionals, which Mark says is a huge boon to the company in terms of their own safety programs and standards. “The division is often client-focused, but having those internal resources and being able to apply them to our own lines of work is kind of like making sure that the mechanic’s car is running smoothly.” He describes Beacon’s safety record as “impeccable,” with zero lost-time incidents in the last five years.
Beacon’s near-site clinics allow organizations to provide medical services to their employees.
“Our biggest focus right now, though, is not to be just complacent but to really work on process,” he says. Beacon has many procedures and processes, and as employees become familiar with them, there can be a tendency to not think about them as much or review them fairly quickly. Holly says, “We’ve grown as we’ve been in business, and our safety program has naturally matured with the organization, and we’re at the place where we’re trying to simplify our processes and make it easier and more straightforward for our team to understand the expectation as it relates to our safety program.”
Beacon’s entire business is safety. The company’s website states, “At the end of the day, we want to do our part to ensure that all employees go home in the same condition (or better) as when they clocked in.” Beacon’s care for its employees, the companies it serves, and its clients’ employees lends itself toward a deep interest in the communities in which it operates.
“We love the Alaska community,” Mark says. “First and foremost, we’re Alaskans through and true.” Mark and Holly, who were both born and raised in Alaska, take the time to participate on many nonprofit boards, and Beacon supports organizations such as Special Olympics Alaska, Alaska Process Industry Career Consortium, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity Anchorage, and many others. The company gives employees time off so they can support nonprofits in areas they are passionate about, as well. “Alaskans rise up and support other Alaskans, and Beacon believes that being good in business means being good in the community,” Mark says.
Beacon also has an eye on the greater good for the environment. “We’ve taken some very strategic initiatives around going as paperless as possible. Our clients will start to see some streamlined processes related to our referral process and [test results].” The goal is to make the process more automated (and green) for clients and for the patients being treated or tested. Mark says, “We’re making sure that rock star customer service is being delivered at all levels.”
In a relatively new line of business, Beacon offers family practice services to employees and their families on behalf of employers—a line that Holly says has been successful and is rapidly growing. “We knew it would be successful, but I don’t think we expected it to be quite this successful. It’s pretty exciting.”
A staff member conducts drug screening at Beacon’s Cordova location.
While Beacon’s locations are in more populated places, many of the services they provide are to remote regions of the state, which usually translate to Alaska’s largest industries, including oil and gas, mining, construction, and transportation. Holly says the team is excited to see Alaska’s economy gradually turn in a positive direction, with jobs evening out and even ticking up in many of those industries. “We are job advocates; we work with employers in every industry… so we’re excited about some of the upcoming projects and are looking forward to continue to see that growth in 2019 as well as 2020.”
She continues, “We are just so grateful for the client loyalty that we’ve had, and how they allow us to be part of their employer family. They trust us to help them with their pre-hire training, their pre-hire physical, the drug testing. They allow us to partner with them with their safety and training programs and participate in their ongoing compliance needs for their employees. It’s a great place of privilege.”
Mark summarizes, “We wouldn’t be here without our employees and our clients. And to say we’re grateful is an understatement. We’re Alaska proud, and we’re proud to work with the organizations that we work with, and we’re proud to work with the team that we have at our company.”
In This Issue
Spreading the Word
When Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) first aired TV commercials featuring the tagline, “A Place That’s Always Been,” the reaction was surprising. Not only because they received numerous accolades and marketing awards for the campaign but because, at the time, it was rare for Alaska Native corporations to market themselves through the media.