Article Courtesy of Inside Business – http://insidebiz.com/bestplacestowork2015/franklin-johnston-group-honoree-large-company
When the Franklin Johnston Group was established in 2013, its founders wanted to create a company based on the core values of commitment, knowledge, teamwork, character, communication and balance.
The Franklin Johnston Group develops and manages multifamily rental residences in the senior, luxury and affordable housing sectors. The company launched in 2013 with a profile of 38 properties and 5,500 residential units, and now owns and manages more than 10,000 units and 59 properties throughout Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.
Upon hiring at The Franklin Johnston Group, each new employee receives a copy of “Fish!” – a book that shares lessons from Pike Place Fish Market workers in Seattle about how a positive attitude can make any workplace enjoyable.
The newly built, naturally lit, yellow Franklin Johnston office building at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront is a long way away from the smelly Seattle fish market, however.
The employees at Franklin Johnston are encouraged to work hard but take breaks as needed. You won’t see anyone hunkered down, eating at a desk during lunch time.
“We’re encouraged to leave the office for lunch, or to eat in the break room,” said Christen Faatz, director of corporate strategy.
Corporate employees of the company are given a 35-hour work week, and work from 9 to 5 with an hour break for lunch.
Casual attire is encouraged in the summer months, and employees are often told to leave early from work on a Friday so they can start enjoying their weekend.
Staying fit also is encouraged, and employees often challenge each other to contests to have a little fun and raise money for charity.
Recently, they held an employee basketball tournament during office hours at the nearby YMCA.
“We do it for charity, bragging rights and we just like talking smack to each other,” business manager Gloria Harrison said.
The office takes part in other community service events, such as the annual JT Walk for ALS, the United Way Day of Caring, and monthly volunteer days for organizations like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Equi-Kids Therapeutic Riding Program in Virginia Beach.
On top of the monthly community service days that the office participates in, every employee is given two paid community service days per year to volunteer for a nonprofit of choice.
Each year, the company stuffs backpacks with school supplies for all kindergarten through middle school-aged students who live in the communities that it owns or manages. Bags are stuffed for 100 to 200 students across 25 different communities.
At Thanksgiving, the company gives every employee a turkey. Each year, it flies up workers from North Carolina and Georgia to the end-of-the-year holiday party.
Prizes are raffled off at the party, including trips to Las Vegas, New York City or a week’s paid vacation.
Although free trips are nice, employees at Franklin Johnston Group consider themselves lucky enough to want to come to work every morning.
“I haven’t taken one sick day,” accounting assistant Michelle Largent said. “I never feel like I don’t want to come into work. And that’s not something a lot of people can say.”
– Virginia Lascara
About the company
The Franklin Johnston Group develops and manages apartment communities in the senior, luxury and affordable housing sectors – now managing more than 10,000 units at 59 properties from Northern Virginia to Georgia.
Address 300 32nd Street, Suite 310, Virginia Beach, 23451
Top executive Wendell Franklin, CEO and chairman
Employees 267 full-time, 6 part-time, 45 seasonal
Benefits include 2 paid community service days per year; access to all amenities that residents enjoy on its properties – gyms, pools, tennis courts, bowling, car washing stations; corporate office located at Oceanfront – a block from the boardwalk; two annual company-wide parties per year; fully stocked snack room, employees start with 15 days of paid time off per year; health/dental insurance; 401(k)
Fun factor Frequent sponsor of community events, and often times, on a first-come, first-served basis, team members are offered free tickets to attend sporting events and concerts. At annual holiday party, team members are entered into raffles for big prizes, including all-expenses-paid vacations to New York, Las Vegas and the Outer Banks, as well as cash prizes, and an additional week of paid time off. The company also gives out awards to the community of the year, community manager of the year and service manager of the year.
Community service The company provides two “free” days off per year for employees to use serving an organization of their choice.
As a group, the company has participated in the Shamrock Half Marathon, the Patriotic Festival and the JT Walk. The corporate office kicked off its first United Way giving campaign this spring and achieved 84 percent participation, with the average gift tallying $260 per year. The campaign will be expanded to the properties in the fall.