Walking into Work Like You Own the Place

Photo By
Hannah Ziegeler

Gibson team members pride themselves on being advisors and consultants, not just commercial and personal insurance brokers.

GIBSON; KALAMAZOO, MI | They offer solutions to guard against risk, helping their clients protect what’s most important to them, like their homes, businesses, and employees. And to ensure the company provides the best service possible, and to drive engagement and responsibility within its team, it has a unique internal structure.

After six months of service, every Gibson employee becomes part of its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), making them a part owner of the company. “When we own a part of the business, we own that relationship with our clients. They’re not corporate’s clients; they’re our clients,” explains Brian Bellware, employee benefits consultant. This dynamic fuels Gibson’s engaged and egalitarian culture as the company grows together. “Gibson’s target is to triple in size over the next 10 years,” continues Bellware. “It’s exciting that we get to be a part of that. We all share in that success.”

The organization’s structure also encourages greater transparency within the team. “Every quarter, we share with our employees how we did financially versus our plan. We want everyone to be fully in the loop,” says Chairman and CEO Tim Leman. However, transparency at Gibson goes both ways. The company regularly surveys its team to find out what workplace improvements could be made to increase engagement. “When we asked, we found that culture is not about ping-pong tables and foosball. We found out that culture is actually about being straightforward, attentive, and caring,” recalls Leman.

The results from these anonymous surveys give Gibson the data it needs to be purposeful about its culture as the company expands. For example, when it opened its new office in Kalamazoo, Gibson made sure to include the workplace features its team actually wanted, such as pneumatic standing desks and an on-site physical training center. For Gibson, its ESOP plan has not only led to creating the workplace its part owners want; it has lowered costs, increased engagement, and enabled the company to attract some of the most talented minds in the business.

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