“We’re all growing together; we’re all rowing together. We’re all feeling the same impact together. So, the question becomes: how can we get through it together?” – Joe Madigan, CEO of Nelson and Higher Growth Search
Nelson has been an integral part of the community, especially with employers and job seekers since 1970. “What makes us successful in the North Bay and other communities is that our culture revolves around our community,” says Joe Madigan, CEO of Nelson and Higher Growth Search. The family-owned company puts people first, and through its philanthropy investments in the health of the community. “Philanthropy is a huge focal point of mine,” says Madigan. “We’re a legacy organization, and the philanthropy that we do is about being grassroots and holding hands with our community. The people that we work for–and with–are so important to us.”
The last year was difficult for everyone with the pandemic, fires and associated economic hardships, but the company kept its balance, and even learned a few things, while helping its employees. “Last year was really challenging because, as an organization, we were struggling as well,” says Madigan. But the circumstances–pandemic, effects of fires, economic stresses–were community-wide. Madigan realized that everyone was in this strange time together, and that there is strength in common experience. “We’re all growing together; we’re all rowing together,” he says. “We’re all feeling the same impact together. So, the question becomes: how can we get through it together?”
Technology, as many other businesses have found, became a gamechanger. “The pandemic opened our eyes to how much more efficient we could be,” says Madigan. “Working at home was a blessing, if a mixed one, and one that the company will continue in some form.” During the pandemic, the company found ways to accommodate those who couldn’t manage to work at home, or at least needed to come in for a break. “We reopened our offices–under protocol–and made sure everybody was safe and following protocol to re-entry.” This allowed for employees to work from an office as needed.
As things begin moving forward, some degree of working remotely will inevitably be part of the company’s future. After all, remote technology allows employees to be “present” at meetings, yet do their work remotely, saving hours on the highways. Last year, the company used Zoom for meetings with notable success. For example, during in-person educational events, he says typically 250 participants would be physically present. But when the company switched from live events to hosting educational webinars, more than 600 people showed up on Zoom. “I think a large percentage of our employee population [in the future] will be remote,” says Madigan, but he reminds that “there’s also always going to be a segment of the workforce who just can’t be remote, and we are prepared to support everyone, in or out of the office.”
Madigan sees a period of adjustment ahead. “Everybody used to talk about work-life balance,” he says. “Nobody talks about that anymore because there is no work-life separation. You’re at home. And your work and your life are mingled. People are wanting to get out of their house and get back to the office.”
The human focus is what makes Nelson unique. “We’re not trying to commoditize. We’re not trying to be lumped in with everybody else,” says Madigan. “We’re privately held, family-owned, and the clients and candidates we represent are an extension of our family. Everybody knows that this is what we are and who we are. For us, it’s always going to be about the people.”
Photos courtesy of Nelson