On Thursday, 12 September I traveled to the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines with Hass Machlab to receive, on behalf of ISE, an award recognizing our company as one of the Top Workplaces in Iowa for 2019.
While the Des Moines Register has sponsored the Iowa Top Workplaces Awards since 2011, ISE first applied in 2013. ISE has been selected as one of the Top Workplaces in Iowa each year it has participated in the interview – seven times. For perspective, in 2018, more than 1,400 companies were invited to participate in the survey that is used to identify the top workplaces. 215 companies advanced to an interview with Energage, a Pennsylvania-based consulting firm that manages the selection process. And more than 42,000 employees responded to questionnaires.
I am coming up on my one-year anniversary with ISE, so it was quite an interesting drive from Coralville to Des Moines. Hass and I discussed the origins of ISE, its evolution over the years, its acquisition by Trimble in 2017, and the challenges we have faced this year. I have greatly enjoyed my time at ISE, as much from the positive energy and expertise of our team and their dedication to the job at hand as anything. But we do make time for some fun along the way (okay, maybe I make a little more time for fun than most – and once again, I apologize for the Pepper-Eating contest at our summer picnic). I have always been very, very impressed by the maturity of ISE’s leadership team, business practices, and culture.
Looking Back at 2019
ISE has had a very successful year with significant growth and many accomplishments. But with the upcoming congressionally mandated transition to Electronic Hours of Service Logging Devices (ELDs) within the trucking industry, and other significant challenges to be overcome on other development projects, our staff has been pushed to the limit this year. ISE is a company that values work-life balance. Prior to our drive, it was already very clear to me the level of concern that the ISE leadership team has to maintain this balance. But as the night wore on, it was obvious just how genuine a commitment Hass has to maintain this balance in the future.
Bringing the Fun
The night’s program featured a very nice keynote speech that focused on ways to have fun at work and ways to make boring work more fun. The turnout seemed quite large at the event (and was much larger than prior years according to Hass). Many of the companies were dressed up in costumes, funny hats, and glasses and clothing adorned with flashing lights. I observed this and thought of my role as ISE jokester-in-chief when it hit me - there is nothing wrong with fun.
I think the average ISE employee would place the “Ha-Ha” funny joke stuff pretty far down on the list of why ISE is a great place to work. We do important work. We value each other and treat fellow employees with respect – ALWAYS. We learn and apply interesting technologies to solve complex business challenges. We work hard and trust that each and every other ISE employee is working just as hard and is just as committed to these values. We do have some crises to manage, and we do have some after-hours work to do. But at the end of a workday or work week, we trust that there will be no snitty work email or desperate call to tilt the balance.
I greatly appreciate ISE, what it represents, and all its people. I understand and appreciate the effort it has taken Hass and other leaders at ISE to establish and sustain this culture. At the end of the event, as we walked back to our car, Hass told me that this award has come to represent his most valued accomplishments as founder of ISE. It was quite moving.
My hope for the future is that each and every ISE employee stop and think about what needs to change and, more importantly, what needs to stay the same, so we can say once again next year that ISE is a GREAT place to work. And I know that there are 75+ people committed to make it happen.
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