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Innovation Provides Foundation for Success at CivicPlus

CareerBuilder celebrates CivicPlus, a website solution company based in Manhattan, Kansas, for its remarkable growth and continued success.

A recent finalist in CareerBuilder’s first annual Big Strides in Small Business competition, CivicPlus provides community engagement and government website solutions for more than 1,100 local government entities throughout the U.S., Canada and Australia. Currently operating with 120 employees, CivicPlus grew both its staff and client base by around 30 percent last year and is on course to do the same in 2012. Since the company’s launch in 2001, it has been committed to investing in its employees, providing them Individual Development Plans to map out their training for the year. Innovation is at the core of both the employee experience and charitable giving at CivicPlus: The company regularly encourages employees to come up with new business ideas and often participates in Hackathon contests to provide free website redesigns. These are just a few of the reasons CivicPlus stands out. In the following Q&A, CivicPlus CEO, Ward Morgan and Director of Talent Acquisition Dan Schultz, CSP (pictured) offer more insight into what makes CivicPlus so remarkable.

CivicPlus’ culture is described as “an environment in which all of us can work and play well together.” Why do you feel it’s important to create that kind of culture?
Schultz:
I think people are really looking for a special place to work. Having a culture that is dynamic and transformational – the way we do – provides people an outlet to get involved in other arenas. People want to be in a culture that supports them, provides them an outlet for professional growth and a fun place to work. I think that’s really important.

CivicPlus is very involved in the community. Why do you believe it’s important to give back to the community?
Morgan:
As an organization and individually, we believe in the power of community and giving back. Recently, we donated tremendously in services and support to Joplin, MO. We did what we could to help a neighbor in need. We didn’t come to Joplin with hammers and nails. We came with laptops, headphones and a storehouse of knowledge about designing government websites. That’s how we could best contribute to the rebuilding of Joplin.
Schultz:
It’s absolutely essential that companies take an active role in the community. It helps not only to illustrate our value proposition as a giving organization, but it also provides opportunities for employees to get involved in activities and interests outside of the workplace, too. This is very attractive to candidates as well. Organizations that make an investment in community-building tend to succeed in attracting and retaining the best talent.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as it relates to how your business?
Schultz:
For me, it’s “never judge a book by its cover.” I was taught that at an early age. I always like to ask very good questions and understand the totality of a candidate I’m interviewing. That goes a long way toward understanding and unlocking potential fits that aren’t maybe as obvious up front.

If you could pinpoint one or two things that account for CivicPlus’ success, what would they be?
Morgan:
Our people are amazing! As a group, we have been able to grow due to the passion, ideas, and dedication of our workforce. This unique mix of talent and conviction has led to a product that we hope will engage and connect over 25M citizens with their local governments by 2016.
Schultz:
I think that hits the nail on the head. It comes down to the talent we have within the organization, and the passion they have for serving our clients, customers and the community. And then also the creative and supportive ways we foster innovation within the company as well.

With talent being as important as it is, what are some of the must-have qualities you look for in employees?
Schultz:
The first thing I look for is a thirst for knowledge and genuine interest in looking at creative ways to make an impact on a daily basis. It’s also energy level and excitement and passion for what we do, and an understanding for the passion we have for the services and products we provide to the marketplace. Someone who gets us and believes in the same things we believe in. Team spirit is also very important. I look for hiring people who are looking to foster innovation not only in themselves, but with their colleagues and within their departments.

About CivicPlus:  Based in Manhattan, KS, CivicPlus has designed more than 1,000 local government websites serving 36 million citizens throughout North America. A recipient of the Center for Digital Government’s Best Fit Integrator Award for delivering extraordinary digital solutions to public IT projects, CivicPlus invests more than $1.7 million each year to research and develop new customizable, integrated eGovernment applications. CivicPlus transforms municipal websites into powerful two-way communication platforms that let citizens talk to and participate in local government. Founded in 2001, CivicPlus was selected by Inc. Magazine as “One of the Fastest-Growing Privately Held Companies in the U.S.” in 2011. (Source: http://consero.com/civicplus/ )

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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