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4 Cincinnati Organizations that Inspire Us Through the Crazy

Updated: May 25, 2023

Photo by Zach Vessels

During the past year or so, we’ve noticed a few organizations that seem to go above and beyond when it comes to tackling challenging situations like the global pandemic. Of course, we work with all kinds of amazing people -- this list is only the tip of the iceberg!

These are four Cincinnati organizations that continually step up with creative and inspiring ways to support great teams and tackle hard problems.


What we admire: Trust and Transparency

Elanor Roosevelt famously said, “A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she’s in hot water.” And the same can be said about leadership.

Icon's Home in historic Covington

2020 was a test for the ages and under the leadership of Shawn Murdock, this team thrived.

And while Icon has the margarita machine, the gorgeous office building (honestly, it could be a stock image), a benefits package with all the pickin's, and the chill creative genius vibe, there's something even deeper going on in this organization that we truly admire.

They always share the "big picture" with their employees, with us, with anyone imperative to implementing success. In the words of Murdock:

“Team members focused on one tactic or initiative can feel like a cog in the machine if you don’t share how they fit into your overall plan and make a difference. When they feel essential, their work will show it.”

Nothing is hush-hush over there –- it’s open and transparent. Employees are invited in to see the balance statements, financials, and goals. During quarterly check-in meetings, employees have candid conversations about the organization as a whole and how they each fit in.

Trust and transparency (along with some mega talent) prepped this team for making 2020 one of their most successful years ever.

What we admire: Creative Culture Initiatives

Virtual Belgian Waffle Contest at SentriLock

One thing that we kept an eye on in our business partners was the ability to stay creative through crises like COVID-19.

Here's what our partner Melanie Booher says about Sentrilock.

SentriLock is very inclusive -- it's a top-down and bottom-up approach to engagement.

We helped build their foundation with culture initiatives and winning Best Places to Work awards, and they have been growing from that.

Under the leadership of Geri Morgan, Chief eXperience Officer, the 20+ members of the various planning committees (Culture, Social, Smart Life), and the rest of the leadership team here are a few things that they did ahead of the pack:

  • Virtual wellness events – weekly live yoga, kickboxing, and meditation sessions

  • At home scavenger hunt – employees and their families competed in a scavenger hunt to race to find common household items to earn points. The winning team received $500

  • Manager appreciation gift delivery – Managers personally delivered care packages to every employee home

  • Year-End Celebration was a virtual murder mystery dinner

  • Weekly video updates from the CEO

  • Launched employee pulse check surveys and monthly manager 1-1 meeting

  • Monthly all-company meeting with various special guests ranging from magicians, the zoo, and Cincinnati Museum Center

  • Rented out the Holiday Auto Theater and showed Back to the Future

  • Hosted Belgian Waffle Decorating contest inspired by the Netflix series, Nailed It

  • On Throwback Thursday, employees share pictures of their youth via slack for a fun guessing game

Thanks to the outstanding leadership team who are committed to an employee-first culture as a top priority,

What we admire: Flexibility and Stability

Even our most trusted partners are sometimes reluctant to let us in to do a full-on Organizational Assessment -- after all, it takes vulnerability to open the doors, let us talk to all the employees, look under the hood, and ask probing questions.

(We lightheartedly call this our “Office Space Bobs” assessment.)

But it can be so valuable and insightful to just ask what people want before you invest in expensive benefits and perks.

Last year, we took this approach with our new client Zontec, under the leadership of Benjamin and Warren Ha, smack dab in the middle of a pandemic.

They've been in business since 1984, so they may have thought, “What are a couple of consultants going to tell us that we don’t already know??"

When our HR Consultant, Meagan Senkowski, jumped in with an assessment, Zontec leaders not only embraced the process but also every single one of the suggestions from their small and mighty team.

We found (as we do often), employees wanted a couple of no-cost, simple solutions to improve morale. One was a casual dress code (they had been business professionals (ties ya’ll) for 40+ years. Another was more time with their leadership. Finally, they wanted updated training and onboarding processes.

Check, check, check.

They have continued to listen and refine their approach to leadership through everything we’ve touched there. Even with recruiting, they listen and respond to the needs of the individuals that they are excited to bring into the organization. They know that employee support needs to be both consistent and personalized... an almost impossible line to balance.

Zontec continues to blow our minds with its caring approach to leadership and open-mindedness as they respond to employee needs.

Saint Vincent de Paul of Northern Kentucky

What we admire: A Mission-Driven HR Policy

The mission of the Society of St Vincent de Paul is simple: “We help people.”

Katie with her "go-to" people, Amy and Sarah.

This statement begins from within the organization itself. In a lot of ways, their approach to HR IS the work.

SVdP hires those who need help, a second chance, a new beginning. They focus on giving back to the community by guiding, coaching, and rehabilitating the lives of those who have sought to better themselves and in turn the lives of those surrounding them.

As our HR Consultant, Katie Germany-Stuart says:

Helping others and providing hope back into the world gives us all a sense of pride and worthiness.

Working with SVdP and its people has been the highlight of my year, and continually renews my faith in humanity. Switching gears in the HR world from the corporate side to non-profit, faith-based, Christ-centered, and community-driven culture has been a rich blessing in my life.

Their human-focused approach is what our world is desperate for.

Even though they are a nonprofit and the mission is "easy" to see -- a lot of times organizations put a brick wall between the company mission and how they treat their employees.

Here are just a few things they've recently implemented to support employees:

  • Defined a disciplinary procedure with five chances (it's normally three).

  • Streamlined the onboarding process so people who need work can get on-boarded and paid quickly.

  • Focused hiring and retention efforts on those who displayed the mission, especially in leadership positions.

We're happy to work with these exceptional clients and look forward to future partnerships.

If you're looking for help working through tough times, or just want some fresh ideas, message me at

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