Something to Smile About: The Goodwin House Work Life

By Kathie Miller, GHI Corporate Director of Marketing & Communications

Photo by Kathie Miller

GHI Named Top Washington-Area Workplace by The Washington Post

We are ending the month of June on a very high note here at Goodwin House Incorporated (GHI)!

On Thursday, June 20, we received news that GHI was recognized as a 2019 Top Workplace by The Washington Post. We ranked seventh in the “large companies” category, which includes organizations that employ 500 or more employees. Our employee number is just shy of 900, with staff representing 60 different nationalities and ranging in age from 17 to 79.

The Post made official and public something we’ve known for a long time—Goodwin House is truly special! If you’ve visited us before, you’ve probably experienced if for yourself. Those who work here, we get to experience it every day.

What’s in Our Special Sauce?

All Smiles! GHBC Dining Staff Dennis Peregrina & Elita Yohannes (Photo by Adam Senior)

GHI is a unique blend of ingredients that come together in a beautiful way. From a call to serve a mission to a desire to build a sense of community, staff, residents, members and families live and work alongside one another with such joy and harmony. 

I joined Goodwin House in February, 2014. Over the course of a few weeks, I noticed something unusual—when I got home at the end of the day, my face felt tired. Yes… my face. At first, I couldn’t figure out what might be causing such facial fatigue. And then, I realized… it was because I was smiling so much. Everyone I met greeted me with such warmth. I felt welcomed, like I was immediately part of the family.

More Happy Faces: GHA Staff Kim Henry & Charlotte Appiah (Photo by Adam Senior)

What provided me with this sense of welcome and belonging was the sense of community that is infused throughout the organization, and that doesn’t happen by accident. GHI is intentional about building and fostering togetherness.

The Importance of Organizational Culture

The idea of “culture” in a workplace is a relatively modern concept. Psychologist and social analyst, Dr. Elliott Jacques is often credited for introducing the concept of “corporate culture.” In the 1940s, he started the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations in London, and in the early 1950s, conducted a three-year study with a metalworking plant. Throughout the study, which was published in a book titled The Changing Culture of a Factory, a behavioral science research team analyzed the intersection of social forces, group dynamics and productivity. What developed from the study was the basic idea that people work better together when they care about the same things.

Today, workplace culture is key to what drives choices for talent seeking job opportunities. Forbes recently shared 12 Tips for how to build positive corporate culture, which helps not just attract but retain good talent. The more one feels connected to the organizational goals, the more one is dedicated and committed to contributing to meeting those goals.

Essentially, this is how workplaces help each of us meet some of our basic needs. Most of us are probably familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy. When it’s a good fit for us, workplace culture helps us reach the top of our need pyramids, giving us a sense of accomplishment and making us feel fulfilled.

Still Smiling

At GHI, our jobs focus on providing the best care to our residents and members. Naturally, you would expect an organization like ours to have a strong workplace culture. But I think it’s important to note that such a culture doesn’t happen by accident. It takes commitment to mission and purpose. It also requires an organization to clearly define itself, and GHI does just that with our mission, vision and values statements.

As President & CEO Kathy Anderson shared in her note to staff celebrating this formal recognition from The Post: “From the first time I entered Goodwin House, I have felt the warmth, collaboration and heart that define us. My heart fills with pride and gratitude as I think about each staff member who makes Goodwin House not just a great place to work but a place to call home.”

More than five years into my career with GHI, I’m still smiling. One thing has changed. Thanks to the consistency of my smile, my facial muscles have gained strength and no longer feel tired at the end of the day.

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As Corporate Director of Marketing & Communications, Kathie Miller provides strategic guidance and tactical support for all areas of the GHI organization. As part of her responsibilities, she manages The Good Life blog and newsletter. Kathie joined GHI in 2014 after nearly 15 years at NPR, where she honed her skills in brand and reputation management, content marketing and internal communications.