Carisk’s mission-driven, value-based approach to leadership has helped the company attract talent and improved care for the patients it works with.
For Carisk CEO Joe Berardo, caring for people is at the core of his company’s mission.
Carisk is tasked with stepping in to assist with managing and coordinating medical care for workers who experience catastrophic injuries on the job. That kind of work takes a special touch, and in Berardo’s view, it starts with building a strong company culture where employees are treated with respect and given room to grow alongside the business.
“We are blessed to have a company that does very well by doing good,” he said.
“A culture is going to develop in every company, whether you want to be an active part of helping shape that culture or not. I think people really appreciate feeling like they’re individually part of the company; they’re not just a number.”
That commitment to employee wellbeing is just one of the reasons why Carisk has consistently been named one of the best places to work by Modern Healthcare, which has recognized the company for the second year in a row.
Its mission-driven ethos, award-winning company culture and dedication to employees and customers have proven to be a winning formula for both attracting and retaining talent, and for building successful recovery outcomes for injured workers.
Transparency, Respect, Predictability: The Ingredients to a Winning Company Culture
For Berardo, a successful company culture is built on three main pillars: transparency, respect and predictability.
The first pillar, transparency, involves sharing details of the company’s operations with every member of the team through constant formal and informal communications. “We are very transparent,” Berardo said. “We talk about revenue, we talk about earnings, we talk about wins and losses, new products.”
Carisk’s high level of transparency with its employees was critical during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the company instituted weekly all-employee virtual meetings, known as “Cup of Joes,” where Berardo would share updates. These efforts helped employees feel secure amid the uncertainty that the pandemic posed, and they’ve continued, though with less frequency, as the pandemic wanes.
“We updated everybody on what was going on with the business,” Berardo said. “We really did a good job keeping people informed, and I’m really proud of the fact that we kept everybody employed.”
Berardo likes to say he hires smart people, and then he empowers them to lead the way in their roles. He wants employees to make decisions and suggest areas for improvement. This practice encourages every employee to be a leader and disrupter in the industry. It illustrates the company’s commitment to the second pillar: respect.
“I think a big part of culture is making sure that people feel comfortable in making decisions,” Berardo said.
Another piece of respecting employees is honoring work-life balance. Modern Healthcare’s recognition of Carisk noted that employees appreciated both the company’s generous work-from-home policy and the way it treated team members as family.
“I find if you treat people that way, they give you 10 times the effort,” Berardo said.
Carisk’s effort to respect and honor employees also manifests in its diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The company’s Diversity Council includes over 30 employees that dedicate their time to celebrating and nurturing diverse talent in the company. They release a quarterly newsletter called Kaleidoscope that highlights relevant DEI issues within the industry, celebrates individual employees and allows people across the company to share their stories.
“I credit our Diversity Council with being really masterful at highlighting the diversity and differences that make us stronger,” Berardo said.
The final pillar Berardo highlighted is security and predictability. At Carisk, he tries to create opportunities for workers to grow their careers within the company. He wants to challenge employees to share their ideas and develop their skills — whether they’re in the earliest stages of their careers or in the C-suite. The company’s internship program was recognized with a Rising Professionals — Elite 50 Internships distinction, where it earned top marks for quality of life.
“I think people appreciate having the business recognize their contributions and their attitude,” Berardo said.
Why a Strong Company Culture Offers Competitive Advantages
Providing transparency into the business’s inner workings, respecting employees and offering security and predictability have all proved to be a boon for Carisk in terms of attracting and retaining talent.
With the Great Resignation, many firms are struggling to recruit and keep new employees. Not so at Carisk, where workers often recommend to friends and family that they apply for open positions. Berardo said he’s seen a constant influx of people interested in careers at the organization. He credits the company’s mission, competitive compensation and corporate values as key draws for prospective employees.
“People respond to the culture; we have very, very little turnover,” Berardo said. “And we get constant inbounds from people within the industry looking to come work for us, and that tells me we’re doing something right.”
The workers’ compensation industry as a whole is changing; it’s become more focused on providing holistic care to injured workers and helping them get back to work and back to their lives. Carisk has prioritized advocacy in its care models since the very beginning, and now it’s bringing fresh talent to the organizations.
“I think we’ve been the beneficiary of some of that seismic shift in our industry and we’ve been able to pick up some really talented people,” Berardo said.
An Award-Winning Company Culture Offers Benefits for Clients
The competitive advantages of the company’s mission-driven brand extend beyond attracting and retaining talent. As a specialty risk transfer and care coordination company, sees aiding in catastrophic workers’ compensation cases as its bread and butter.
These special situations often need more attention, and they benefit from a care approach that takes into account a worker’s physical and behavioral health. Carisk’s people-first corporate culture helps employees lead with compassion as they work with injured employees.
“Our purpose as a company is people. It’s our own people and it’s all the people we get to care for,” Berardo said. “The mission comes through in their interactions with our patients we serve, our clients that we serve and the providers that we partner with.”
One way Berardo sees Carisk’s culture come through during its work with injured workers is in the way the company promotes focusing on strengths. Carisk employees are encouraged to focus on developing their strengths. When they work with injured workers, they bring that same approach to the table, motivating patients by helping them see the strides they’re making in their recovery.
“If you have people focused on what they can do and what they want to do versus what happened to them and what they can’t do anymore, there’s an upward vision, rather than a downward spiral,” Berardo said.
In this area — as well as with the company culture as a whole — Berardo leads from the top down. He often calls injured workers himself to “make sure that they’re getting what they need from our team and that they feel like we’re advocating appropriately for them.”
He speaks with pride as he recalls injured workers who struggled with recovery and eventually ended up walking down the aisle to get married after a year or two of help from Carisk. “They’re willing to trust us and to engage in their recovery. It’s amazing to see them recapture their lives,” he said.
All these amazing results start with Carisk’s initial investment in its team members. Berardo quoted entrepreneur and Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson, who said, “You take care of your employees and they take care of your customers.” It’s an approach that’s proved true — and fruitful — for Carisk. And its clients have reaped the benefits of its successes.