Thought Leadership

Insights and announcements from our subject matter experts and Ascensus leadership team

Women in Technology Spotlight: Nikhila Nallamothu

Software engineer

Tell me a little bit about where you attended school and your work history.

I grew up in India and attended RVR & JC College of Engineering. My experiences at school influenced me to move to the United States and pursue my masters at Villanova University. Villanova helped me land my first job, but after I learned about Ascensus at a career fair, I knew I wanted to work here.

How did you start your career at Ascensus, and how long have you worked here?

After graduate school, I really wanted to find a job that would allow me to enhance the skills and knowledge I gained. After hearing about Ascensus’ corporate culture, I felt that I could truly grow here. It’s been almost 2 years since I joined the Ascensus team.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in technology?

As a little girl, I was always intrigued with computers and puzzles. Eventually, I taught myself windows programming basics and it influenced me to pursue a career in technology. Generational experience taught me that technology offered various career paths, so it felt like a good fit for me.

What makes working on the IT team at Ascensus different or unique?

We have such a supportive culture here. Everyone cares about the quality of your work, but they more so care about you and your personal goals. I’m very proud of Ascensus’ core values, because they allow us to work on meaningful projects that help us grow every day.

What advice would you give someone who wants to land a job in the technology field?

Go for it! The possibilities are endless in this field. You won’t be stuck coding behind a computer all day long, especially if you study STEM.

What woman is your biggest inspiration and why?

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, is one of my biggest inspirations. She shows great dedication and passion for her job. When it comes to my personal life, there are many people who have inspired me. My mother and all of the women who are part of Ascensus’ IT leadership team are great mentors, who have showed me it is possible to be a woman technologist.

Did anyone or anything help you to get to where you are today?

My father teaches various programming subjects back in India. He took a lot time to teach me each and every programming language, and he stuck by my side when I had trouble understanding certain subjects. My dad really helped me pursue my dream of receiving my masters.

Why do you like working for a company that helps people save?

I’ve always loved giving back to others and to the community. Together, my sister and I started The Avery Charitable Trust, an organization that allows us to donate to children in need. Once I learned that Ascensus helped Americans save for the future, I felt a connection to this company. I had no second thoughts about working for a company that helps people save. I immediately knew I wanted to work here for the long term.


Women in Technology Spotlight: Renee Drobish

Senior software engineer

Tell me a little bit about where you attended school and your work history.

I attended Drexel University where I received my undergraduate degree in Mathematics. Afterwards, I went to Penn State and received my masters in Engineering Science with a concentration in Computer Science.

I’ve been able to venture along three different career paths. First, I worked as a software engineer in the process control industry where I received a software patent entitled “Method for Controlling Failover between Redundant Network Interface Modules”. Next, I became a professor at Penn State Abington and started teaching Information Science and Computer Science courses. Finally, I entered the financial market working at a small financial company, eventually making my way to Ascensus.

How did you start your career at Ascensus, and how long have you worked here?

After speaking with a recruiter, I looked at Ascensus’ LinkedIn page to learn more about the company. While I was searching around, I realized that one of my previous students was currently employed here. I spoke with my former student about the company, and he had great things to say, so I accepted the job. It’s funny because, when I started, my student was assigned to be my mentor. We worked in the same department for my first two and a half years, and I’m now beginning my fifth year with Ascensus.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in technology?

From a young age, I took an interest in math. Although I loved math, I knew that I did not want to be a math teacher. That opened my eyes to the world of Computer Science.

What makes working on the IT team at Ascensus different or unique?

At my previous place of employment, each team was separated by department. Although we worked on projects together, we were never working on the same team. Here at Ascensus, our teams are made up of various workers. Each team has developers, quality engineers, project managers, project owners, etc. and we collaborate on various projects. This environment is so different than any other work place I know of. I also feel like there are more women in Ascensus’ IT department than any other IT department I previously worked in.

What advice would you give someone who wants to land a job in the technology field?

Always be willing to learn new things by keeping up-to-date with technology. Use the internet to read articles and explore technical sites and learning sites. You can even use YouTube to find videos about Microsoft Office and programming.

What woman is your biggest inspiration and why?

This is a hard question, because there are a few women who have inspired me. My mother was a hardworking and independent business woman. She endured many challenges throughout her life, including surviving the Holocaust. I also really admire a woman named Ada King. She’s known to be the first computer programmer, which is interesting because now IT is a male-dominated field.

Did anyone or anything help you to get to where you are today?

My parents helped me establish myself by encouraging me to go to college. I was the first one in my family to attend college, and they told me I could go to school for whatever I wanted.
Also, my husband encouraged me to keep up with all of my work throughout graduate school.

Why do you like working for a company that helps people save?

Working at Ascensus has truly showed me how important it is to save for the future. I always had been saving before I worked here, but ever since I started my career at Ascensus I’ve continued to grow my savings immensely. I also have learned a lot about retirement that I never knew before, which has helped me determine my own 401(k) savings strategies.


Women in Technology Spotlight: Rimma Guberman

Manager

Tell me a little bit about where you attended school and your work history.

I grew up in Moscow, Russia, and immigrated to the United States in 1994. When I lived in Russia, I obtained my education in Computer Science. However, I didn’t learn about modern technologies and efficient software building until I came to the U.S.

I started working as a web developer for a small firm. Afterwards, I worked across different industries for several organizations. I was able to advance through a series of roles, moving my way into a management position.

How did you start your career at Ascensus, and how long have you worked here?

When I was applying to jobs, I interviewed at many companies. In the end, I felt Ascensus was the best opportunity for me. I’ve been working here for 3 years. I currently manage software development, which allows me to work with other developers to build software applications for our clients.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in technology?

When I was starting my career, technology and web development represented new territory. As these sciences emerged, there was a high demand for people skilled in these fields. Also, I always liked to solve challenging problems. Overall, I felt like IT presented opportunity for me to grow.

What makes working on the IT team at Ascensus different or unique?

Everyone that is a part of our IT team here impresses me. We invest a lot of time and energy into digital enhancements, the advancement of new technology products, and the development of agile processes. Our technologists get to be a part of an organization that values ongoing and emerging technologies.

What advice would you give someone who wants to land a job in the technology field?

Be committed to learning. Always try and adapt to new technologies, because it will allow you to stay innovative. Also, look for ways to improve yourself and the company you work for.

Can you provide any guidance for women aiming for leadership positions?

Although it’s impressive to work hard and be good at your job, it won’t be enough if you want to be in a leadership position. You need to be confident in who you are, and you need to be assertive so your voice is heard. Take risks and never compromise.

Did anyone or anything help you to get to where you are today?

When my kids were little, my husband and my mother always helped me so I could do what I liked to do. They were always supportive when I had to spend my nights studying, or when I had to work long hours. I also looked up to one of my previous bosses, because he was an amazing technologist. We were able to work together at three different companies.

Why do you like working for a company that helps people save?

Every time you work on a new feature, you realize you’re working on it to help others. When I see one of my technology systems being implemented or when I fix a bug on the site, I feel satisfied to know my expertise is being used to help others save for the future.


How Do Your Clients’ Plans Stack Up?

​In a recent sponsored feature​ published by ​PLANADVISE​R​, ​President David Musto ​​​discusses how advisors can generate a custom plan pricing comparison using our tool at alwayshaveaplan.com. “It’s become a very competitive environment in terms of who can provide the best value for what they’re charging—whether you’re talking about an adviser or a service provider like Ascensus,” Musto says. “As an organization, we pride ourselves on our ability to help clients simply interpret the value that their retirement plan delivers.”​​​​


Women in Technology Spotlight: Julianne Sumpf

Lead software engineer

Tell me a little bit about where you attended school and your work history.

I attended Millersville University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I started as a Business Administration major with a focus in Accounting, but after the first quarter I switched my major to Computer Science. I worked for a litigation company for 10 years, where I focused on electronic discovery. At first I completed quality checks, but I moved my way up to software development.

How did you start your career at Ascensus, and how long have you worked here?

The litigation company I previously worked for had been bought out, so all of my teammates started moving to different companies. One person I worked with joined Ascensus and he recommended I apply for an open position. He put in a reference for me, and now I’m here! I’ve been with Ascensus for a little over 4 years.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in technology?

When I realized business wasn’t the best fit for me, my uncle suggested I try technology. I took my first technology class spring term of freshman year, and I loved it. At my school the curriculum jumped from taking small command classes to video game classes, which showed me that IT was truly a mix of creativity and strategy.

What makes working on the IT team at Ascensus different or unique?

The people at Ascensus make our team extremely unique. All of the associates have vastly different backgrounds, however, we all share the same common goal of making Ascensus the best it can be. Also, you get to work on a variety of projects. One day I’ll work on the website, the next I’m looking at systems and database levels underneath it. We always get to learn and experience something new.

What advice would you give someone who wants to land a job in the technology field?

If you don’t have a lot of experience, try looking for volunteer opportunities. I follow a few technology groups over social media, and I’ll see organizations looking for volunteers to help update their database and website. Those opportunities serve as great projects you can show off to your future employer. Also, it’s important to promote yourself by having your LinkedIn profile up-to-date.

What woman is your biggest inspiration and why?

The professor I had in my first computer science class was a woman. I think her and I had been the only females in the classroom. She showed me it is possible to be a woman working in the technology field. Also, my family is full of strong women that pushed ourselves forward when it came to establishing a career. They taught me how important it is to show pride in what you do.

Did anyone or anything help you to get to where you are today?

My problem-solving skills helped me get to where I am today. These skills are very useful when I see project challenges or support issues, because they help me to think differently and look for solutions others have not tried.

Why do you like working for a company that helps people save?

People work hard for their money, and they work even harder to save their money. They trust the employees at Ascensus to properly handle the money that they need for life’s most important events. I love working for a company that provides accurate results to our clients in a timely manner.


Are You Retirement Ready?

Senior vice president

When it comes to saving for retirement, many individuals are confused about how to start. It can be intimidating to navigate the process alone, especially if you don’t have an understanding of how much money you should be saving. Luckily, financial advisors and retirement providers are able to support retirement savers with helpful tools that help answer the question: “How much is enough?”

Here are five suggestions for retirement savers looking to set and track the progress towards their goals:

  1. Get started. The easiest way to stop worrying about retirement is to start saving now. Begin by saving a percentage of your paycheck that works best for you. As you are able to save more, you can start to increase your contributions. It’s important to remember that any amount of money, no matter how small, makes a difference. The key is to start early and put time on your side.
  2. Speak with a financial advisor at least once annually to review your progress. Financial advisors can help employees determine if they’re on the right track with their savings. By meeting regularly with a financial advisor, savers establish a sense of security and confidence in their strategy. A reliable advisor will be a source of motivation and comfort when times look uncertain.
  3. Take advantage of tools that will help you set and refine your goals. Ascensus offers different resources to help employees reach their savings goals. Our employee website allows participants to keep track of their retirement goals from their desktops and mobile devices, so they can conveniently manage their savings strategy. We also offer access to our Retirement Outlook tool, which helps them determine optimal savings rates.
  4. Consider leveraging automatic features. The easiest way to continue to grow your savings is to save automatically. Savers can leverage automatic increase options to ensure their savings rate increases annually.
  5. Revisit your savings strategy when there are milestones or changes in your financial life. Many individuals will increase their savings percentage after job promotions or career milestones. An increase in income may lead to an increase in spending, so it’s important to also consider this opportunity as a way to increase your retirement savings. It’s key to find a balance between spending and saving.

By consistently assessing your retirement savings goals, you can track your progress and determine if you need to make adjustments. Are you wondering how often you should evaluate your progress? It’s best to check your account at least annually, unless you are experiencing a significant life event or income change.


Women in Technology Spotlight: Sharon Burge

Software development manager 

Tell me a little bit about where you attended school and your work history.

I majored in Mathematics at Drew University, which allowed me to develop my analytical skills. After accepting an offer from Electronic Data Systems (EDS), I attended their technical training for new employees hired as associate developers. I was able to use the skills I learned at EDS to work as a software developer. Afterwards, I worked in the IT division of a mortgage company, and now I’m with Ascensus.

How did you start your career at Ascensus, and how long have you worked here?

When I first came to Ascensus, I started as a senior software developer. My manager was switching positions at the time, so they were looking to hire another manager. Fortunately, I was promoted and was able to work as a development lead. I’ve only been with Ascensus for two years, so I’ve definitely experienced a lot of movement within the company in a short amount of time.

The job description featured on Ascensus.com interested me, because it described a position that would be challenging and rewarding. When I started the interview process, I learned that Ascensus was very forward-thinking in terms of their approach to software development.

What made you interested in pursuing a career in technology?

I’ve always enjoyed solving problems. My early attempts at JavaScript and my EDS training highlighted my desire to solve technical problems. Technology is constantly evolving, which adds another layer to an exciting career choice. You can be a master today, and a novice tomorrow. It’s fun and rewarding to continue finding new and better ways to complete processes.

What makes working on the IT team at Ascensus different or unique?

At Ascensus, we’re always trying to make ourselves better. We know there is room for continuous improvement. Something unique the IT department does is utilize TV screens to show the status of our test cases. Our code goes into our development environment and runs automated tests to validate our changes. This ensures that existing functionality has not been negatively impacted. The TVs assist in letting all groups know if one of the applications failed or if tests were not successful. This allows us to immediately celebrate successes or identify potential issues.

What advice would you give someone who wants to land a job in the technology field?

I recommend getting involved in the online community as soon as possible. This can include contributing to open source repositories, responding to questions on Stack Overflow, or even joining technical meet-ups. Internships are also a great way to gain more knowledge about the field and learn from experienced developers. If you’re younger, you could apply to coding challenges offered by your high school.

Can you provide any guidance for women aiming for leadership positions?

Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. It’s okay to question the status quo. Just because something has been done a certain way before, doesn’t mean that it’s the right or the best way to do it. At other companies I’ve worked for, there were times I was the only woman at meetings. Some people may treat you a little differently, but don’t let it prevent you from making sure your word is heard.

Did anyone or anything help you to get to where you are today?

Not only did my EDS tech training help me, but the first technical lead I worked with after my training was very supportive. She was really helpful in teaching me coding, but she also showed me it’s possible to be a successful, respectable woman working in the field of technology.

Why do you like working for a company that helps people save?

Saving is a critical part of my life, especially as costs continue to rise and as the economy fluctuates. My work is more meaningful knowing that I’m helping others save for college, health care, and retirement.


Washington Pulse: RESA’s Return May be Departing Senator’s Gift to Retirement Readiness

Bipartisan legislation proposing many changes to IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans has been introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR). The Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act (RESA) of 2018 is very similar to a bill approved unanimously by the Senate Finance Committee in 2016, but not considered by the full Senate. With Senator Hatch leaving Congress, there may be an urgency to enact some form of this legislation. A companion bill was also recently introduced in the House of Representatives and is being reviewed to determine if there are any differences between the two. A general summary of the Senate bill is provided below.

Incentives to Establish or Enhance Employer Plans

Many of RESA’s provisions are intended to make it less complicated and less expensive to establish a plan and to reduce fiduciary exposure for employers establishing a retirement plan. To accomplish these objectives, RESA would

  • enhance an employer’s ability to participate in a multiple employer plan, or MEP (the new but equivalent term “pooled employer plan” is coined by RESA). This would allow sharing of administrative responsibility, expense, and liability. RESA would eliminate the current requirement that participating employers have common purpose or ownership (effective for 2022 and later years);
  • allow an employer to establish a plan (e.g., a pension plan or profit sharing plan) by its business tax filing deadline, including extensions. Current rules require employers to establish a plan by the last day of their business year. The extension would not apply to certain plan provisions, such as elective deferrals (effective for taxable years beginning after 12/31/2018);
  • increase the maximum small employer retirement plan start-up tax credit from $500 to up to $5,000 per year, available for three years (effective for taxable years beginning after 12/31/2018);
  • provide a $500 per year tax credit for up to three years, beginning with the first year a 401(k) plan or SIMPLE IRA plan includes an automatic enrollment feature (effective for taxable years beginning after 12/31/2018);
  • allow employers up to 30 days before the end of a plan year to elect a 401(k) safe harbor plan provision without providing a pre-plan year notice if they make a three percent nonelective safe harbor contribution. Employers making a four percent nonelective safe harbor contribution would have until the deadline for removing excess contributions for such year to elect a safe harbor provision (effective for plan years beginning after 12/31/2018);
  • specify a fiduciary safe harbor for plans offering lifetime income investment options in order to offer employers greater protection from fiduciary liability for investment provider selection (effective date is not specified in the bill text); and
  • provide nondiscrimination testing relief for defined benefit pension plans that are closed to new participants; generally such employers offer a defined contribution plan as an alternative for new employees (effective for plan years beginning after 12/31/2013, if the plan sponsor elects).

Enabling Participants to Save More

RESA includes provisions intended to lead to greater saving by retirement plan participants. To accomplish this objective, RESA would

  • eliminate the current 10 percent deferral limitation for plans with qualified automatic contribution arrangements (effective for plan years beginning after 12/31/2018), and
  • require defined contribution plan benefit statements to include a lifetime income estimate at least once every 12 months (effective for statements provided more than 12 months after issuance of guidance by the Secretary of the Treasury).

Provisions Affecting IRAs and Employer Plans

Some provisions would affect participants or beneficiaries of both employer plans and IRAs, or would in some manner connect an employer plan and an IRA. These include provisions that would

  • require nonspouse beneficiaries of IRAs and employer plans to withdraw amounts that together exceed $450,000 within five years. Exceptions to this rule—allowing certain beneficiaries to distribute and be taxed over their life expectancy—would include the disabled, the chronically ill, and a beneficiary who is no more than 10 years younger than the participant. Minors would begin their required five-year distribution period upon reaching the age of majority (generally effective for payouts as a consequence of deaths after 12/31/2018);
  • treat custodial accounts of terminated 403(b) plans as IRAs, as of the termination date (effective for terminations after 12/31/2018); and
  • allow plan participants invested in lifetime income investments to roll over the investments to an IRA or to another retirement plan if a plan is no longer authorized to hold such investments (effective for plan years beginning after 12/31/2018).

IRA provisions

A limited number of RESA’s provisions would affect only IRAs, and would enhance either contribution or investment options. These provisions would

  • eliminate the end of Traditional IRA contribution eligibility at age 70½ (applies to contributions for taxable years beginning after 12/31/2018);
  • remove restrictions and allow any IRA owners to invest in S-Corporation bank securities (effective 1/1/2018); and
  • treat graduate student or doctoral candidate stipend, fellowship, and similar payments as “earned income” for IRA contribution eligibility purposes (effective for taxable years beginning after 12/31/2018).

Miscellaneous Provisions

RESA contains several provisions less high-profile in nature, provisions that chiefly deal with employer plans. Such provisions would

  • treat most retirement plan loans enabled through credit card programs as distributed from the plan (effective for plan years beginning after 12/31/2018);
  • increase the following retirement plan reporting failure penalties
    • Form 5500: $100 per day to a maximum of $50,000,
    • Form 8955-SSA (reporting deferred vested benefits): $2 per participant per day to a maximum of $10,000,
    • Withholding notices: $100 per failure to a maximum of $50,000 (effective for returns, statements, or notifications required to be filed after 12/31/2018);
  • accelerate PBGC defined benefit (DB) pension plan insurance premiums to improve the agency’s solvency (application date to be determined);
  • clarify PBGC insurance premiums for DB plans of cooperative and small employer charities (effective for plan years beginning after 12/31/2017); and
  • clarify that employees of church-controlled organizations may be covered by a 403(b) plan that consists of a retirement income account (effective for all plan years, including before RESA enactment).

Conclusion

RESA’s prospects for enactment appear enhanced by the fact that it is known to be a high priority of Sen. Hatch, who will retire after his current Senate term. Furthermore, there could be an opportunity to attach its provisions to congressional appropriations legislation that must be approved by March 23, 2018, in order to avoid another government shutdown. The legislation could also certainly move forward as a stand-alone bill. Visit www.Ascensus.com for the latest developments.


How Financial Services Firms Can Safeguard Client Information

Financial services firms have a target on their back. Given the massive quantity of names, addresses, social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information kept on file, cyber criminals are going to continue to take aim at your businesses.

We’ve seen it countless times before in the financial services arena. A data breach in 2011 at Global Payments led to 1.5 million credit and debit card numbers ending up in the hands of cyber criminals, costing the company $90 million. In 2014, J.P. Morgan spent more than $1 billion to mitigate the damage resulting from compromised personal information of more than 76 million households. Last but not least, credit-reporting agency Equifax on September 7, 2017 revealed that cyber criminals had compromised the personal information of more than 143 million U.S. consumers, marking the largest data breach in history.

Experts say we’ve only seen the tip of the cyber-attack iceberg, and the treasure trove of sensitive information kept at your business will continue to attract cyber crooks to your company. The average cost of a data breach is approximately $4 million per incident, not to mention the priceless reputational damage. Can your business afford it?

What started out as a relatively minor issue has ballooned into perhaps the greatest threat facing our industry today. At Ascensus, we have over 30 years of experience in safeguarding our clients’ personal information. Here’s my advice for like-minded firms looking to avoid potentially disastrous data breaches.

Patch your systems

Perhaps the single most significant security flaw that led to the Equifax breach was the company’s failure to patch a vulnerability in its system, providing cybercriminals with an entryway into the personal information. Had Equifax patched this vulnerability within 48 hours of discovering it, the breach could have been prevented, according to Equifax CEO Richard Smith.

Patching vulnerabilities within your businesses security system as soon as they are identified may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to hear how many companies fail to do so. The capital and manpower required to implement these patches sometimes deters executives from the job. But these decision makers must understand the potential financial and reputational damages resulting from a breach far outweigh the time and money spent maintaining your system today.

Administer employee cybersecurity training

One of the top causes of data breaches is human error. Cybercriminals have gotten very creative in how they enter your systems, and frequently use methods that involve deceiving an internal employee into letting them right in the front door.

Hackers are known to create phishing emails disguised as Amazon coupons or other retail giveaways. A quick click on a link within these phishing emails can provide the criminal with everything they need to break into your systems. Sometimes hackers pose as an existing client or representative from a third-party vendor on the telephone to get the information they need to break in. Considering your employees’ natural willingness to help, you might be surprised how easily an unsuspecting associate will unintentionally give up sensitive information to the wrong person.

Strong employee cybersecurity training designed to help your associates recognize these malicious attempts is imperative to any strong, company-wide cybersecurity system and can go a long way in thwarting attempted attacks.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

If a data breach does occur at your organization, an effective response plan will make or break your ability to mitigate the damage to your clients and key stakeholders. This might have been Equifax’s largest downfall.

Ask yourself the following: How will we eliminate the bad actor to mitigate the damage? Which third-party cybersecurity firm will we call for help? What is our internal communication plan, and how will we address the issue with our clients and the outside media? These questions just scratch the surface, but getting the answers is a great place to start when building a response plan.

Is your firm ready?

Given the sheer amount of sensitive data you have at your company, financial services firms of all shapes and sizes will continue to be targeted by cybercriminals. Constantly monitor and update your security measures and response plans. If a data breach hits your organization, you’ll be glad you did.

 


Four Strategies for Executives to Create a Successful Service Culture

Establishing a service culture at any organization is one of the most effective ways to boost client satisfaction, keep your employees happy, and create a healthy working environment that enables your teams to thrive.

But what is a service culture? For us, it means every activity is completed with the client in mind, regardless of whether they are directly impacted by the task at hand. In a service culture, employees should put people first, prioritize quality, and always maintain a high level of integrity. But it’s also so much more. It’s a state of mind, a set of beliefs, and a core value for employees to rally around.

Service cultures start with you, the executive, and trickle down to every single aspect of the business. As a member of the C-suite, your own actions reflect the company culture and you must work to be the unifying agent. Good leaders know that poor client service costs money and inhibits growth. But great leaders truly understand the power of service cultures, and how they can positively impact client satisfaction, employee well-being, and the company’s bottom line.

Understand (really understand) your client’s objectives

This may sound basic, but it’s the foundation for a solid service culture. Show a genuine interest in finding out what’s important to your clients and mold your culture around it. There should be nothing stronger than the voice of your client. Know them deeply and apply their wants and needs into your strategic vision. Not only will this enhance the partnership with your current clients, but prospective clients will recognize the team’s unique ability to hone in on their business.

Be consistent in how the culture is communicated

Culture starts at the top of your organization. The actions and words set at the leadership table establish the tone for the entire organization. The C-suite should be communicating a consistent and clear message related to the service culture in all aspects of the business. Every employee should know the vision, believe it, and execute on it. Keep in mind that culture is constantly evolving, but remain consistent with your core mission and cultural values no matter the environment.

Train and develop your employees to execute on core values

It’s imperative for every person in your organization – from the mailroom to the boardroom – to feel included in the culture and be able to articulate how they add to it. Your core values and service focus should be reflected in formal documents and communications, including the employee handbook. Once you establish these policies, train new associates to understand the standards and equip them with the resources to implement the service culture. This is especially important for recruiters so they can quickly and clearly recognize the core attributes in potential employee candidates.

Reward and recognize your employees

The benefits of positive reinforcement have long been studied. So recognize and reward employees who are embodying the values, and remind employees when they are not. This goes for leadership too. If you aren’t walking the walk, your employees will notice.

Building and maintaining a successful, positive and recognizable service culture is a challenge all executives face. Utilizing the steps outlined above will empower your team to embody the service culture and create positive experiences for your customers and employees. But leaders must understand that they must do more than just talk the talk. They must embody the core values of a service culture every day in order to make it stick.