For the folks at W.S. Badger Company, Inc., the idea of community starts with family. And it’s that notion that is at the heart of the company’s innovations.
“Innovative workplace practices have been part of our business model from the very beginning,” says Emily Hall-Warren, director of administration for Badger, located in Gilsum. “We’re proud to be an employer of choice in the region known for a unique culture and family-friendly benefits.”
Badger is a small, family-owned, family-run and family-friendly company, which, using organic plant extracts, exotic oils, beeswax and minerals, strive to make the “safest, most effective products possible” to soothe, heal and protect.
Bill Whyte, who heads the company, discovered these soothing balms and elixirs while working as a carpenter. In the winter, his hands would dry and crack, but the balm he created made all the difference.
Since then, Badger has grown to include more than 100 products. Among their 60 employees, are Whyte’s wife Katie Schwerin (COO), and their two daughters Emily (vice president, sales and marketing) and Rebecca (vice president, innovation and sustainability).
“Bill Whyte and his wife Katie Schwerin founded the company in 1995, but they were also parents,” Hall-Warren says, “so creating a business that respects its employees and incorporates family-friendly policies was second nature.”
Those family-friendly innovations, Hall-Warren says, include offering paid FMLA; paid parental leave for primary and secondary caregivers; a babies-at-work program; subsidized, near-site child care; flexible work schedules; and even a paid half-hour lunch during which an organic meal is served.
“We have happy, healthy families in the workplace environment and a really strong community network of support here at Badger,” Hall-Warren says.
The theory behind these innovative business measures is that the practices help employees and help the business recruit and retain talented staff, building a healthy and loyal corporate culture and improving productivity.
Take, for example, the company’s unique babies-at-work program, which, according to company officials, has myriad benefits, including making breastfeeding easier and allowing for the inherent health benefits that come from enhanced bonding. Also, the program lessens daycare costs thereby providing more financial stability, provides strong social networks and extended-family support for both parent and child. The program provides an easier transition for the child to off-site child care, they say.
For Badger, the benefits include having the mother back to work sooner, thus reducing the need to hire temps while boosting morale, solidifying employee commitment and creating more teamwork for the company. Badger, in a sense, creates its own "village" to support both parent and child.
These programs have been successful enough that others have taken notice. In 2016, Badger was awarded a When Work Works Award for its use of effective strategies to increase business and employee success, according to a press release. The honor is part of the national When Work Works Project administered by the Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management, and it recognizes employers of all sizes and types in New Hampshire and across the country.
Hall-Warren says of the award: “We believe that happy employees make for a happier, healthier workplace and receiving this award is both an honor and a validation of our efforts.
“What’s wonderful is that many of the unique benefits … are the result of employee feedback and suggestions. So, in many ways, we truly are an employee-led company.”
That sense of village extends to its belief in the importance of a community having and supporting a vibrant Main Street and downtown.
“While we don’t have a physical presence on Main Street,” Hall-Warren says, “our products can be found in many Main Street businesses, and we value our relationships with those businesses who are integral to the overall quality of life in our community. Main Street is important because it is the heart and soul of any vibrant community. A thriving Main Street is a key indicator that local businesses, the arts and culture, and diversity are flourishing.”
For more information on the W.S. Badger visit badgerbalm.com.