Case Study: Apple Growth Partners


Today's job market continues to become more competitive, and ideal candidates are receiving equally competitive offers that include enhanced benefits, a robust salary, and more. Discover how we were able to help Apple Growth Partners drastically improve hiring outcomes and make them stand out above their competition. 

Key Points:

Client Background: Apple Growth Partners (AGP) has approximately 115 employees. They have been an ERC member for over 10 years.

Problem: AGP was expanding geographically, so they needed to develop compensation strategies to attract high-quality candidates.

Solution: We provided AGP with reliable compensation survey data, people programs, and proven strategies that promote competitive and equitable compensation practices to drive growth and scale.

 Chuck Mullen-Apple-Growth_250x290


"We used to use free data for salaries and job descriptions, but it was not specific enough to be effective. You tend to get what you pay for, and we recognized the value in spending a little bit on data that would later pay dividends. ERC’s local, specific and ample data drastically improved our outcomes and positioned us above the competition."

Chuck Mullen
Apple Growth Partners

Equitable and Competitive Compensation Practices Drive Growth

Through the data collected through our reliable compensation surveys, our client, Apple Growth Partners, was able to leverage that information to attract and retain top talent. AGP regularly participated and received recent local employment market data to ensure they were employing equitable and competitive compensation practices to grow. The firm currently has four offices in Northeast Ohio. They opened an additional location in 2018 and are on track for continuous growth. Having the right data bolstered their capabilities to evolve!

AGP is also a member of ERChealth, a leading provider of group health insurance. ERChealth offers small to mid-sized companies with affordable, comprehensive, and quality health insurance for their employees. Through ERChealth, AGP was able to offer employees annual checkups to keep employees happy and healthy while also keeping premiums low.

About Apple Growth Partners

Apple Growth Partners is an award-winning accounting and business advisory firm with more than 75 years of helping grow local businesses. With offices in Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Kent, AGP offers a full range of services, including audit and assurance, tax planning and compliance, business valuation, litigation consulting, employee stock ownership plans, and transactional advisory services.

About ERC

For over 100 years, ERC has provided people data and HR services to help leaders make better decisions. Aside from our virtual and on-demand courses, ERC also offers on-demand HR support, compensation & benefit benchmarking data, in-person instructor-led training, individual and team assessments, and employee engagement services. Please contact us to learn more. Or if you are interested in learning more about ERChealth, please visit

Tackling Today's Talent Shortage

From Leader to Leader 850 x 445

This blog post was updated on October 21, 2021.

On September 22nd, ERC recognized and honored Northeast Ohio's 99 best places to work for top talent at our NorthCoast 99 Awards Ceremony and Event. 

Being known as a “Great Place to Work for Top Talent” should certainly mean something to leadership today. In the current market, finding and keeping anyone, let alone a top performer, is top of mind for almost every leader I talk to. The statement “I just can’t find anyone to work” is heard regularly. The question, “how do I keep my best people?” is asked of our ERC team daily. 

Leaders who make their people a priority and who are actively telling their stories are the ones winning the war for talent. These leaders have invested in policies and programs that are appreciated and valued by their teams and ultimately, prove profitable for their businesses. Through our NorthCoast 99 research, we've learned that successful organizations have been able to attract, develop, and retain talent with such policies. Here are a few facts about the 2021 NorthCoast 99 winners: 

  • 79% have a documented succession plan in place, which means their top performers know they have a path to advance
  • Two-thirds have a formal mentorship program for new employees
  • 62% have a sustainability or environmental responsibility policy in place
  • 98% have formal development and career advancement discussions with top performers
  • 93% have a compensation policy

Becoming an employer of choice doesn’t happen overnight but it can happen. As businesses continue to be challenged by the current labor shortage, I encourage you to have these discussions with your leadership team and share your aspirations with your employees.      

Don’t wait until you’ve lost your best people —be proactive and committed. You will find it will be worth the effort. ERC's people data proves that.

Need help getting started? ERC Membership is a great place to start.

- Kelly Keefe, President 

ERC Offers New Online Training Courses to Empower Leaders & Employees

online training courses


ERC is pleased to announce that we have launched a new series of courses that meet the needs of diverse industries.


Foster a Productive Workforce with Supervisory and Leadership Trainings

ERC's virtual, instructor-led training courses aim to empower leaders in mid-level and supervisory positions. The courses include new Supervisory tracks that cover fundamental and advanced concepts; the six-part Supervisory Series Fundamentals Path and the four-part Supervisory Series Advanced Path. The courses begin in early September and are designed to equip leaders with a wealth of resources, assessments, and collaborative opportunities to evaluate and discover effective behaviors that foster a robust and productive team. ERC will also be offering a six-part Mid-Level Leadership Series that will introduce leaders to practical models for strategic planning. It will also provide interactive opportunities to facilitate critical thinking and management skills through actionable and meaningful coaching. 


Employee Online Training Courses

Conversely, ERC’s online training courses offer employers more flexibility by allowing learners to go through the courses on their own time and at their own pace. ERC is thrilled to share four new courses: Behavioral InterviewingCommunication in the Workplace, Harassment Awareness and Professionalism in the Workplace (One-Hour Course), and Harassment Prevention and Professionalism in the Workplace for Managers & Supervisors (Two-Hour Course).


ERC strives to assist employers in enhancing their company culture, empowering employees with resources to make informed decisions, and promoting healthier and safer work environments. For example, the Behavioral Interview e-learning course can assist employers with their hiring success rate through proper and nuanced preparation, practice, and reflective exercises to accurately evaluate candidates.


"These types of courses are timely and allow us to help employers create great workplaces. We are on a mission here at ERC," said ERC President Kelly Keefe. "We know that we are making a difference. We know that we can help change workplace cultures. We know that we can help leaders become the best leaders they can be and empower employees with a wealth of resources."

Start Improving Your Workplace Today

For over 100 years, ERC has provided people data and HR services to help leaders make better decisions. Aside from our virtual and on-demand courses, ERC also offers on-demand HR support, compensation & benefit benchmarking data, in-person instructor-led training, individual and team assessments, and employee engagement services. Please contact us to learn more.

ERC Training Attains Top Sales Honor



Highland Heights, OH – Wiley™ recently accounced that ERC is a Ruby award-winning Partner for Everything DiSC® and The Five Behaviors®. This achievement acknowledges our company's commitment  to developing leaders and their teams.

"We're thrilled to be a Ruby-award recipient and authorized partner of Wiley assessments," said Kelly Keefe, President of ERC. "Through these valuable instruments, our members and clients are realizing greater productivity, cohesive teamwork, and breakthrough growth."

Everything DiSC® is a personal development learning experience. It is founded and based on the DiSC model, a tool that helps people understand their preferences and tendiences better as well as those of their teammates. Along with training, DiSC helps improve teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace.

The Five Behaviors® is the result of a partnership between the best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, and Wiley Workplace Learning Solutions. It helps improve team collaboration and organizational development. 

About ERC 

Since 1920, ERC has provided people data and HR services to help leaders make better decisions. Through our certified HR advisors, we offer consultative services, compensation benchmarking and data, workplace polls and surveys, networking, and cost savings opportunities.  

We also offer virtual and classroom instructor-led training, on-demand learning, individual and team assessments, one-on-one coaching, and employee engagement services. In addition, ERC is the founder of NorthCoast 99 and sponsors the ERChealth insurance program for Ohio employers. 

Opening and Operating During COVID and What Lies Ahead

Bring People Back 850 x 500

Be Confident About Your Team’s Safety

EBE Website Logo No Quote Horizontal-1Laura Steinbrink, MBA LEED-AP
Contributor, Emerald Built Environments

As the year has rolled on, we have continued to develop our understanding of the impacts and threats of COVID-19.

While we were once sheltering in place and wiping off every package from the grocery store with bleach wipes, we've largely adapted as new knowledge has been gained. Now, even though many have been vaccinated, new strains of the virus erupt around the globe, borders remain closed to US citizens, and concerns about safety remain.

Whether you own or lease your space, reopening and operating at the workplace requires new policies and procedures. It can be extremely helpful to have a proven system to guide decisions and to prove to your employees and visitors that you have policies and procedures that will protect them. WELL has provided us a tool for exactly this.

WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management

The WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing building and facility types focusing on operational policies, maintenance protocols, stakeholder engagement, and emergency plans.

Designed to empower owners and operators across large and small businesses alike to take the necessary steps in order to prioritize the health and safety of their staff, visitors and other stakeholders, the WELL Health-Safety Rating can help guide users in preparing their spaces for re-entry in a post-COVID-19 environment, instilling confidence in occupants and the broader community.

The rating, which consists of a subset of relevant features from the WELL Building Standard™ (WELL™) adapted for facility operations and management, was informed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but has broader applicability for supporting the long-term health and safety needs of people in a given space (WELL).

This Rating was released last year by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI). They gathered a group of nearly 600 public health experts, virologists, government officials, academics, business leaders, architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals with the goal of developing a guidance and standard that the world could use to help prevent the spread of COVID. This team of experts recognized that safety within buildings, when we spend 90% of our time indoors, would be one of the most crucial aspects of controlling the disease and protecting the people.

Rating Factors

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is a subset of the WELL Building Standard, focused specifically on facilities operations and management during a public health crisis and will continue to be adapted as new information is gained as it is fundamentally an evidence-based rating system. The rating system includes 21 features across the following core areas, a minimum of 15 which need to be met:

  • Cleaning and Sanitization Procedures
  • Emergency Preparedness Programs
  • Health Service Resources
  • Air and Water Quality Management
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Communication

Bring People Back Safely

If you are already open or preparing to bring your employees back and want to feel confident you're doing everything you can to provide a safe and healthy environment, consider how WELL Health-Safety can guide you.

Join us for a live discussion and our free webinar, Bring People Back Safely: Opening and Operating During COVID, on August 4 from 9 to 9:45 a.m.

People Analytics: Making a Strategic Impact Through Data

People Analytics Blog

Over the last few decades, roles within human resources have continued to evolve in the business arena.  Studies show that more and more CEOs expect HR leaders to play a key part in enterprise strategy.  

Shifting the HR focus from transactional to strategic-minded can often be difficult. People analytics can assist with building collaboration through transforming data into business solutions.  

Converting metrics into analytical results can be overwhelming, however understanding the fundamentals will allow you to proactively predict and prevent workforce challenges. It is key to understand the difference between metrics and analytics. It is important to recognize that data does not make decisions, it merely assists in developing an informed conclusion. 

Metrics are real-time data points that can assess a specific process or function. They provide quantitative information. Analytics, on the other hand, uses both quantitative and qualitative data to uncover meaningful connections that can drive solution-minded initiatives. Analytics is a strategic approach to better decision-making. 

There are typically four steps involved in the analytic process. It is imperative to be intentional when building the right insight; understanding the root cause of a problem, identifying the best data to connect-the-dots, and determining how to collectively analyze the information.

1. Organize & Plan 

Understanding the business is a crucial component to people analytics. What promotes organizational success within your organization? What are the core challenges? Who are the people driving success? Having the foundational understanding of organizational performance metrics can then assist with understanding ‘why’ these are significant.   

Once there is a basic organizational comprehension, you can start to look at issue resolution. Common issues today include increased turnover, hiring delays due to talent shortages, and employee burn-out.  Look to discover the root cause of the identified problem. 

There are simple methods that can assist in determining a root cause such as a fishbone diagram and/or The 5 Whys approach.  Once a potential root cause has been determined, create a hypothesis statement. The hypothesis will then become the anchor to the analytic process. A project plan and leader buy-in should center around proving, or disproving, the identified if-then statement.  

2. Capture Data

What data is available today within your organization?  Is there relative industry benchmarking that would be applicable?  What other contributors can you involve in the data collection process? Data should not only reflect human resources metrics. To make a strategic contribution, it is important to look at all facets of the organization, as well as, outside sources for data.  

When collecting information, it is important to consider both qualitative and quantitative measures.  Quantitative data is measurable and objective, making it a common source for insight. Quantitative data is often sourced through systems such as a Human Resource Information System (HRIS), Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or Client Relationship Management System (CRM).  

Often however, quantitative data is not enough to capture the complete picture. Qualitative data can bring an element of greater understanding to an issue.  The data is often collected through employee surveys, focus groups and/or interviews, and is used to identify trends/patterns. Qualitative data can be considered subjective and difficult to interpret at times, however plays a vital role in the analytical process. 

3. Analyze

Look to organize the collected data in a way that will ensure the information is clean and categorized appropriately.  Identify variables within the data. People analytics ultimately attempts to find an affiliation between variables to further prove or disprove a defined hypothesis. For example, turnover and employee engagement may be two variables within the data.  Turnover may increase or decrease based on engagement.  

When analyzing data, there are several factors to consider.  Bias, sample size, data integrity, and data type are all things that can affect data.  You want to ensure the data you are utilizing is accurate and meaningful. Did you get the most out of the data that was collected?  Are the outcomes correct and free of bias?  Confirming the integrity of the analysis is significant when drawing conclusions and proposing recommendations. 

4. Story Tell

The final step in the analytic process is presenting the findings to the appropriate stakeholders. This final step helps provide context and meaning in real time. Create concise, impactful messaging to prevent overburdensome details. Align the recommendations with data findings and business initiatives. Utilize data visualization to show trends and predictions.  Create a call to action, involving any necessary stakeholders in the process.  

People analytics is a method that will require practice and additional learning. Start out with small business needs that may not require robust data analyzation.  Look to gain leader buy-in through increased proactive approaches. Work to collaborate as a strategic contributor for business initiatives throughout the organization.  

Finding strategic solutions by utilizing more than HR metrics can feel taxing. ERC is here to assist! We can be a partner in aligning people management with strategic visions. We specialize in assisting organizations with qualitative data such as engagement surveys, focus groups, and assessments. ERC can be a guiding partner in becoming less reactionary and more visionary.  

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Looking Ahead: Refocusing on Workplace Safety as COVID Variants Mutate

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In 2020, not much took precedent over muddling through every challenge associated with the pandemic. In the midst of being reactive, it was easy to lose focus on larger, less immediate initiatives. Thankfully, as we continue to create proactive steps to address the current unknowns, we can start to refocus on the day-to-day processes and strategies that impact our workforce.  

One such initiative is workplace safety. As additional organizations begin returning to the workplace, it is more important than ever to foster a culture of well-being. Taking action steps to mitigate workplace incidents and employee injuries above and beyond COVID-19-related initiatives should be a priority.

Employers should start to revisit best practices in an effort to promote proper safety standards and mitigate workers’ compensation risks. Here are five tips that we suggest.

1. Refresh Supervisor Knowledge

Look to review company guidelines and protocols to ensure leaders are up to date and educated on any changes.

Provide supervisors with the tools to address any pre-existing or new response efforts to workplace incidents. Encourage team leaders to dialogue with staff so they understand the company’s position on proper procedures. Look to reintroduce any trainings or resources that may add additional benefit to individual contributors.

2. Emphasize Safety Accountability

Showcase the organization’s safety committee.  Ensure the group is composed of the correct representation throughout the organization.  Look to the committee to continue to monitor pandemic initiatives, however also challenge them to create comprehensive action-items to improve overall safety measures. 

Task the group with annually analyzing incident data to determine focus areas in need of further prevention initiatives.  Have the committee review new procedures to ensure feasibility and effectiveness. Review all recent guidelines against current practices to confirm measures have been implemented and are being followed. 

3. Involve the Remote Workforce

As remote work options become more prevalent, it is important to remember that employers can still take steps to promote health and safety outside of company workspace. 

Actively engage offsite personnel to participate in preventative goals and problem-solving. Amend alternative work arrangement policies to reflect continued safety expectations regardless of the work location. Create a safety self-certified checklist for offsite employees to complete in an effort to promote hazard awareness and prevention. Outline a communication plan specific to the remote workforce so employees understand applicable protocols for incidents or near-misses.  

4. Review Incident Response Procedures

Evaluate current investigation protocol to ensure the processes are still accurate. Address any lapses in injury response to better understand how to create a more efficient practice.

Identify the best strategic approach to incidents to remain consistent with any new federal agency guidelines or recommendations. Re-educate the employee population on proper notification procedures when an incident occurs. 

5. Partner with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC)

Know that the BWC is not the enemy! The agency has many resources for employers to attempt to assist with mitigating risk.  Programs are available for employers throughout the state that look to promote employee well-being and safety.

Most recently the BWC has begun the “We’ve Got You Covered” initiative that provides face masks to employers at no cost. They also have programs such as “Better You, Better Ohio,” which is a health and wellness program aimed at smaller employers to assist with promoting a healthy workforce. 

In addition, the BWC’s division of Safety and Hygiene provides a variety of services and resources to assist with creating a safer workplace.  Employers have the opportunity to participate in safety consultations. These are non-enforced, confidential consultations that can assist with identifying potential workplace hazards. The goal of these programs is to provide aid to companies that may need additional help in ensuring the identification and removal of environmental stressors that can impact the workforce.

Encourage safety representatives within your organization to research the resources available through the agency. These programs and initiatives can lead to improved safety programming and fewer employee incidents. 

Here to Help

By taking steps to reignite broad-based initiatives, companies can begin to heal from the effects of 2020. ERC is here to assist in that recovery.  As we move forward together, ERC will continue to provide resources aimed at strengthening workforce initiatives and strategy. 

To learn more about safety and workers’ compensation, please join us for our webinar, Ohio Workers' Compensation & Unemployment: Who Do I Call? Where Do I Begin?, on April 14, 2021 at 9 a.m.

ERC Announces the Appointment of Jill Koski to Board of Directors

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ohio - ERC, the 101-year-old organization that provides people data and HR services to help leaders make better decisions, is pleased to announce the appointment of Jill Koski with Holden Forests & Gardens to its Board of Directors.

“It is my pleasure to welcome Jill to the ERC Board of Directors! Jill’s experience in nonprofit development as well as her knowledge of ERC will be instrumental as we continue to tailor our Membership services to meet the needs of all organizations, including nonprofits. More importantly, Jill is an incredibly intelligent leader who will continue to add great value to this tremendous Board,” said ERC President Kelly Keefe. 

Jill has served as the president and CEO of Holden Forests & Gardens since 2017. The nonprofit organization includes the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio and the Cleveland Botanical Garden in the city’s University Circle district. Jill joined Holden Forests & Gardens during a period of transformation and growth, following the combining of the two long-standing Northeast Ohio cultural organizations into a single entity.  

Prior to Holden Forests & Gardens, Jill served for 10 years as the Vice President of Development at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. Before Morton, she served for 10 years in a variety of development positions at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois.

Jill joins ERC’s current Board Directors: Chairperson Nicole Crews, Global Diversity and Engagement Manager at Swagelok; Raj Aggarwal, Ph.D., CFA, Board Member, Executive, Teacher and Scholar; Matt Dailey, President and CEO at Royal Chemical; John Dearborn, Principal at Advise and Connect, LLC; John Gadd, Chairman of Become Known, and President and CEO at Hotcards; and Dalithia Smith, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Oatey Co.

About ERC

Since 1920, ERC has provided people data and HR services to help leaders make better decisions. Through our certified HR advisors, we offer consultative services, compensation benchmarking and data, workplace polls and surveys, networking, and cost savings opportunities. We also offer virtual and classroom instructor-led training, on-demand learning, individual and team assessments, one-on-one coaching, and employee engagement services. In addition, ERC is the founder of NorthCoast 99, and sponsors the ERChealth insurance program for Ohio employers.


ERChealth Recognizes 10 Health Academy Award Recipients

Sponsored by ERC, ERChealth provides affordable, quality health insurance, underwritten by Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, for Ohio organizations with 51 to 500 employees. 

The ERChealth insurance program promotes employee wellness and provides employers innovative tools to help reduce claims and manage health insurance costs. Started in 1999 as a preferred risk pool in the state of Ohio, ERChealth offers an array of rewards for both employers and employees who make health and wellness a priority. 

ERChealth recognized 10 exceptional member companies with Health Academy Awards at the Pre-Renewal Meeting on March 3, 2021. The winning companies and award categories are listed below. Congratulations to these organizations!

1. GBBN Architects Inc.

Award Category: Culture of Excellence 
Southwest Ohio

2. Lumitex 

Award Category: Culture of Excellence 
Northeast Ohio

3. The Ohio Eastern Star Home

Award Category: Culture of Excellence
Central Ohio
4. Sun Federal Credit Union
Award Category: Culture of Excellence
Location: Northwest Ohio

5. Community Care Ambulance
Award Category: Biggest Strides
Northeast Ohio
6. LCNB National Bank
Award Category:
Biggest Strides
Southwest Ohio

7. UMD Automated Systems
Award Category:
Biggest Strides
Central Ohio

8. Bill Harris Auto Group 

Award Category: Rookie of the Year
Location: Central Ohio

9. City of Independence 

Award Category: Rookie of the Year
Location: Northeast Ohio

10. Miami Valley Emergency Specialist

Category Award: Rookie of the Year
Southwest Ohio 

Interested in learning more about ERChealth? Visit


The 2021 NorthCoast 99 Application Is Now Open

NC99 Application 850 x 445 (1)-1
For the past 23 years, ERC has recognized 99 great Northeast Ohio workplaces for top talent through the NorthCoast 99 annual awards program and event. 

ERC is excited to announce that the 2021 NorthCoast 99 application is now open, and Northeast Ohio employers are encouraged to apply! Applications will be accepted between now and April 15, 2021.  

Each year, hundreds of employers apply for this sought-after award for its many benefits, including valuable benchmarking data, deeper insights into their organization’s top-performing employees, and the ability to brand themselves as one of 99 exceptional workplaces for top talent in our 22-county region. 

The application process consists of three steps that must be completed in sequence:

1. Get Qualified

In order to get qualified for NorthCoast 99, employers must complete a brief Eligibility Survey. This survey consists of three simple questions, collects basic contact information, and takes less than five minutes to complete.

During the Eligibility Survey, you’ll be asked to provide the contact information for the individual at your organization who will be designated as the Main Contact for the 2021 NorthCoast 99 application. This individual will serve as the primary point of contact for all NorthCoast 99 communication.

2. Pay the Application Fee

Eligible organizations will then be directed to a payment page. There is a $199 fee to receive access to the 2021 NorthCoast 99 application. ERC accepts payment via Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Receipts will be provided via email.

Please note: The application fee is non-refundable and must be received prior to starting the application. Due to the proprietary nature of the content found in the application, no refunds will be granted, regardless of whether your organization completes and submits the application in full.

3. Complete the Application

Within two business days of submitting your payment, the individual designated as the Main NC99 Contact by your organization during the Eligibility Survey will receive an email with links to these parts of the application:

  • 2021 NorthCoast 99 Application
  • 2021 Top-Performer (Employee Engagement) Survey
  • 2021 New-Hire Survey

Please note: The links provided are unique to your organization and should not be shared externally.

We encourage you and your team to get started on the NorthCoast 99 application process right away. Again, the application must be completed and submitted by April 15, 2021.

For tips and suggestions on completing the NorthCoast 99 application, please visit our Apply page.

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