ERC Celebrates 99 Years!



It's our 99th birthday! In recognition of this milestone, ERC President Kelly Keefe and Senior Vice President Carrie Morse discuss our past, present, and future in this commemorative video. Their full conversation is transcribed below. 

kelly-keefeKELLY KEEFE, President

Q: Tell us when and why ERC got started.
A: ERC was founded in 1920 in response to the labor movement. A group of employers got together to create better practices for both employers and employees.

Q: What are some of the key changes in the organization since you started?
A: I’ve been lucky enough to be at ERC for 15 years. In that time, the organization has changed tremendously. We were only serving organizations here in Northeast Ohio when I first started. Today, we are serving organizations across the country and around the globe. Our services have grown as well, in response to many issues that employers are facing, such as talent shortage. We have become more sophisticated in the products we are providing in order to help organizations attract and retain talent.

Q: How would you describe ERC's current culture?
 I would describe ERC’s workplace culture as a place that I look forward to going to every day. We believe in our core values, and we live them day to day. One thing that we focus on is our “F” culture. That means we put family first, we are fun, we allow flexible work schedules, we are financially supportive, and we are fitness-minded. We do all of these things as an organization for each of the employees so that we can live who we are, but also work together. 

The “F” culture was not something that I wanted to push from the top to the bottom. What I wanted to do was create groups – groups of people who don’t typically work together. The employees choose the groups that they want to be a part of. For example, if I have interest in fitness or a flexible work arrangement, I am able to get together with other peers who feel a strong commitment to that as well.

Q: What do you value most about working here?
 What I value most about ERC, hands down, is the people. I look forward to coming to work every single day. I look forward to hearing about weekends, hearing about things that happened the night before, hearing about family. And also, I enjoy the work that we are doing together. We know that we are making a difference in people’s lives.

Q: Most memorable moment for you at ERC?
A: When I think about my favorite events or moments, I come back to NorthCoast 99 every year. The event that happens in early fall is something that I know is a true labor of love for every person involved at ERC. We work together tirelessly throughout the entire year, but especially at the end of the summer, leading up to our big finale, our big event. We have worked so hard with employers across Northeast Ohio to share their stories about what they are doing to make a difference for their employees. That is my favorite memory every year.

Personally, a very important moment to me is when the Board of Directors of ERC said that Kelly Keefe would be running ERC as the next President. Knowing this organization has been around for the time it was – 98 years  to be a part of this culture, and more importantly, to be the first female President of ERC, is something that I will never forget, and I don’t take this job lightly.

Q: What is your vision for ERC's future?
A: My vision for ERC for the next 99 years is that it continues to stay true to why it was created. I hope, as we are today, that the next 99 years allow for the same transparency between employers and employees and allow us to help employers across the world create wonderful workplaces. We are on a mission here at ERC. We know that we are making a difference. We know that we can help change culture. We know that we can help leaders become the best leaders they can be. Together, I hope, with all of our members and our clients, that in the next 99 years, we will continue to live out that vision.

CARRIE MORSE, Senior Vice President


Q: What are some of the key changes you've observed in the HR industry in your 17 years at ERC?
A: Engaged individuals and high-performing teams are what’re making a difference in workplaces around the United States. ERC has always worked with organizations who saw that, but we are seeing so much more of that now in leaders who truly believe in this concept. And that is for HR what is continuing to make its mark and grow within the organizations that we serve.

Q: How have ERC's service lines and offerings evolved over the years?
Today, ERC offers training, consulting, research, and HR support services, all with a custom approach to the clients that we serve. We truly look at each client’s situation, challenges, and opportunities to creatively deliver what’s going to make a difference and an impact in their workplace. 

Q: How is ERC helping to make workplaces great?
We make an impact by helping companies attract and retain top-performing people through everything we do. One of the programs that we created 21 years ago is our NorthCoast 99 program. This program measures workplace practices as well as assesses top performers within the organizations that apply. Any applicant is able to use this data to benchmark their practices against those of leading workplaces and leading cultures. We are so proud of what we have been able to build and give back to the corporate community in our region.

Q: What do you value most about working here?
What I value most is our team. We are as creative and fun as we are flexible and collaborative. It is truly a pleasure to come to work every day and work with so many talented individuals in a fun environment.

Q: Most memorable moment for you at ERC?
My most memorable moment at ERC was probably my first NorthCoast 99 event back in 2002. The famous management author Tom Peters was going to be delivering our keynote, and we had 900 guests coming from the 99 winning organizations. It was my first time running the event all the way through. The leaders believed in me to get the job done, and everyone on our team supported me and helped make it an easy and fun task. It has been a pleasure to honor so many organizations over the 17 years that I have done this program.

Q: What is your vision for ERC's future?
We will continue to grow and develop custom solutions to truly listen to what businesses need and then deliver flexible solutions that include training, consulting, HR support services, and much more to help these companies make an impact in the industries in which they work. ERC, as an organization, will keep pushing the envelope around a great culture for our own internal team here. With strong leaders and a firm belief in the work that we deliver, ERC will continue to keep a pulse on the organizations that we serve.

Jump-Start Your Internship Program with NOCHE's Free Services


It’s not too late to engage college interns for the summer! The Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) can help small to mid-size for-profit and nonprofit employers find summer interns through their FREE program. 

Benefits of the program:

  • Help establish and enhance your internship program. Participating employers receive free attendance for up to two representatives at a NOCHE internship training workshop. Regular price is $275 per person.
  • Recruitment assistance. NOCHE will identify and vet candidates to fit your internship needs.
  • Program support. Provided by NOCHE throughout the span of the internship.
  • Partial salary reimbursement. NOCHE will reimburse employers $500 per intern for each intern who is paid at least $1,000 for the internship. Employers may receive reimbursement for up to three interns in this program.

For complete details about this program, contact NOCHE’s Associate Vice President, Brenda Davis Smith, at 216-276-2556.

Leading by "Eggs-ample:" ERC Makes Workplaces Great

IMG_4363-1ERC is serious about making workplaces great. We created and cultivate an "F" workplace culture: Family-First, Fun, Flexible, Fitness-Minded, Footprint-Light, and Financially Supportive to employees. This week, ERC's Fun Committee organized the 1st Annual Easter Egg Hunt for all staff in the office. This fun activity was organized because ERC understands a positive employee experience is crucial to the health of the organization.

Read this article...

ERC President Kelly Keefe Featured as a Cleveland CEO You Should Know

kelly iheart CEOs interview_blog

ERC president Kelly Keefe was recently invited to iHeartMedia's radio studios in Independence for an interview on the network's Cleveland CEOs You Should Know program. This segment features high-impact Northeast Ohio business leaders who are making a difference at their companies and in the community. A portion of this broadcast will air until March 3 on various regional iHeart stations, including WMJI, WMMS, WGAR, and WTAM. Listen to Kelly's full-length podcast here!


ERC's 2019 NorthCoast 99 Application is Now Open Through April 26!


Get Recognized as a Great Northeast Ohio Workplace for Top Talent

ERC is excited to announce the launch of our 21st annual NorthCoast 99 award! The 2019 application is open now through April 26.

Apply for the 2019 NorthCoast 99 Award

The Value of Applying

  • Find out what drives your organization's top performers
  • Be branded as a great Northeast Ohio workplace for top talent
  • Benchmark your company's performance with other top local workplaces

Learn More About NorthCoast 99

Thank You, Sponsors!
The 2019 NorthCoast 99 event is made possible with the generous support of our sponsors.


How to Re-Engage Employees Who Are Ready to Leave

How to Re-Engage Employees Who Are Ready to Leave

Do you currently have an employee who has one foot out the door? There are endless reasons for voluntary turnover, and data from ERC's 2018 NorthCoast 99 Top Performer Survey specifically identifies four of the most commonly cited sources of disengagement.

Employees are likely to chase after new advancement opportunities and more competitive compensation, while fleeing from a lack of flexibility and a lack of organizational support.

Once employees become disengaged, it can be a struggle to change their minds in a way that makes them want to stay.

Consider the following 4 ideas to re-engage those employees who could be on their way out.

1. Keep Lines of Communication Open

If regular employee-manager conversations don’t occur, you might find yourself quite surprised when you hear a top performer express intentions of leaving the company. Listen to all concerns intently and take them seriously. Consider preventive measures such as conducting regular “stay” interviews or employee engagement pulse surveys. Keeping your employees engaged requires continuous communication.

By maintaining an awareness of how your people are doing and how they feel about their work and roles in the organization, there will be more time and opportunity to engage your talent base.

It could be easier to remedy employee issues as they come to surface, rather than continuously cycling through the talent attraction and hiring process as a result of turnover.

2. Get Them “Un-stuck”

Give disengaged employees somewhere to go within the company. When you give them the opportunity to re-engage they feel less inclined to take their talent and knowledge elsewhere. Advancement opportunities allow top performers to feel continuously challenged and in charge of their learning, which not only serves to fulfill their needs for growth, but also benefits an organization’s competitive advantage.

Take note of the knowledge, skills, and unique attributes your organizational talent pool consists of, and figure out how you can better utilize your employees’ capabilities.

When they feel ready to move on to an external opportunity, offer to move these individuals into a new set of responsibilities in which they can flourish. And when you add new work to their plate, make sure their compensation is adjusted accordingly.  Having a talent-management system in place can facilitate this process. (Ultimate Software is an ERC Preferred Partner offering succession planning and talent development services.)

3. Recognize and Reward

A number of employees could be on their way out because they feel unappreciated for their efforts, and are no longer motivated to work for an organization that doesn’t recognize their contributions.

While no employee is likely to turn down a bonus for a job-well-done, money alone is not an effective long-term motivator. 

Showing appreciation can take on many forms, such as giving public recognition during staff meetings or interoffice email, awarding extra paid time off, or giving employees the chance to work on challenging projects that provide more work autonomy.

4. Support Work-Life Balance

If organizational policy is rigid and forces individuals to choose between work and family, employees will likely recognize that they have options that will better suit their needs (that don’t include their current employer).

Granting employees more robust benefits such as flexible work schedules, generous parental leave, telecommuting opportunities, and unlimited bereavement leave, is a way to communicate to employees that you recognize they are holistic humans and not productivity machines.

Don’t lose your best people to the competition by hanging on to traditional workplace practices that hold them back from living an enjoyable life.

In the end, if you feel unwilling to put in the effort required to re-engage departing employees, consider whether you can truly afford to lose this talent and adjust accordingly.


Interested in learning more about engagement surveys?

Submit your contact information and receive instant access to a brochure that overviews what is included in ERC's engagement surveys and our process for conducting and assessing.

View the Engagement Brochure


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