In a year that has been characterized by layoffs, unemployment, instability and tension in the workplace, eBossWatch is excited to announce the Best Bosses of 2009. The actions of these excellent managers serve as an inspiration to bosses and workers across the country.
1. Brian DeAngelis, store manager, PA Wine & Spirits Store, Whitehall, PA
Donated his kidney to save the life of one of his employees
Earlier this year, the employees at the PA Wine & Spirits Store in Whitehall noticed their coworker Rob Fenstermaker slowly dying of polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary and fatal condition. They discussed ways to help their colleague, and a few employees went to get tested to determine if their kidneys were potentially compatible to Rob’s.
Their boss, Brian DeAngelis, also agreed to be tested, and his kidney was found to be a perfect match for Rob. DeAngelis did not hesitate, and in May, doctors successfully carried out the transplant operation that saved Rob’s life.
Last month, DeAngelis was commended by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which operates the state’s Wine & Spirits stores, for his excellent work as store manager and his remarkable compassion for a coworker and friend.
During ceremonies at agency headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman Patrick J. “P.J.” Stapleton III said, “We know that Brian does a great job of managing the Whitehall Premium Collection Store; it’s one of the best stores in the state. But more than that, Brian’s an incredible human being. All of us are incredibly touched by what he’s done. Brian gave a kidney to a fellow employee who’s here today. We’re awestruck by that gesture of generosity and compassion.”
2. Paul Levy, CEO Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA
Engaged employees to find ways to address budget shortfall; saved 530 jobs
Last March, Paul Levy found his organization facing a $20 million budget shortfall because of the economic crisis. Instead of ordering the layoffs of the 600 workers necessary to cover the $20 million deficit, Levy decided to discuss the problem with his employees and to solicit their feedback on how the medical center should respond.
Levy said the following at a meeting with employees of the medical center: “I want to run an idea by you that I think is important, and I’d like to get your reaction to it. I’d like to do what we can to protect the lower-wage earners – the transporters, the housekeepers, the food service people. A lot of these people work really hard, and I don’t want to put an additional burden on them. Now, if we protect these workers, it means the rest of us will have to make a bigger sacrifice. It means that others will have to give up more of their salary or benefits.”
His words were followed by an enormous amount of applause from the employees, the vast majority of whom expressed their willingness to take pay cuts so that none of their coworkers would have to be laid off. Over the next several days, Levy received over 600 emails from employees suggesting various ideas for reducing expenses. These ideas enabled the medical center to find creative ways to trim $16 million in expenses. The plan developed by Levy and his staff ultimately saved 530 of their coworkers’ jobs.
3. Leonard Abess, owner and CEO, City National Bank, Miami, FL
Gave $60 million as a gift to his employees after selling a controlling stake in his bank
After selling a controlling stake in his bank, Abess gave $60 million to his 471 employees. In explaining this huge gift, Abess said, “I just never thought that I was solely responsible for the success of the bank. I always realized that there were 400-plus people doing the work, making it successful.”
Abess also said, “We have never had a layoff. We have paid a bonus to every employee, every year. We have never raised the cost of insurance. Today, the employee’s cost is the same as it was 20 years ago….I tell young CEOs, that before you cut anybody’s compensation, before you fire anybody for economic reasons, you deal with yourself. Your perks go, your bonus goes, your salary goes.
“We provided, I think, an atmosphere of caring. We were always there. I know my employees. I know their names. I know their spouse’s names, their parents, their children. So we always tried to have a family atmosphere. We attend each other’s events — birthdays, weddings and funerals. In hardship, we try to take care of each other. I think we had an atmosphere that, for people, was comfortable and they felt welcome in, so they stayed.”
4. Jack Windolf, CEO, Bollinger Insurance Solutions, Short Hills, NJ
Shared his $500,000 bonus by giving a $1,000 check to each of his 454 employees
Last year, as part of the sale of 51% of the company, Windolf received $500,000 in deferred compensation, and he decided to share it with all 454 of his employees. Employees said that this type of generosity is not uncommon for Windolf, who is known for giving out regular holiday bonuses and for treating his employees with kindness and respect.
Windolf believes that treating employees well is not only the right thing to do, but is also good business practice. He said, “You have to share with your employees and that’s all we’re doing. It’s not really a gift, it’s an investment.
“Loyal employees will work harder and smarter, and I believe that they will treat customers with the same care and respect that they receive here at Bollinger.”
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