Lois Paynter, Saint Mary’s Health Plans, VP of Operations


Lois has created a work environment that has her employees wanting to come to the office every day––or not. For those days that her employees prefer to do something else and not come to work, well that’s OK too. Thanks to programs like flextime, Lois encourages her employees to spend time away from work with friends and family. She believes in work/life balance and she helps her employees achieve that balance by supporting and encouraging flextime.

Lois recognizes her employees have dynamic lives outside of their 8-to-5 shifts. Every week, Lois dedicates an hour to each member of her team. Her team members know they have the freedom to bring any topics to their one-on-one weekly meetings with Lois, even if the conversation goes beyond the parameters of work. These meetings help Lois better understand who her team members are outside of work, which helps her be more accommodating in achieving the work/life balance company-wide.

With Lois being responsible for 56 employees, she says open communication and scheduling are the secret ingredients. While employees are encouraged to take advantage of flextime by leaving work early, coming in late, or not coming at all; the program could crumble without proper scheduling.

“We don’t have an attendance problem here,” said Lois. “Employees can take time off as needed, everything is captured on the calendar.” Because of the emphasis on healthy work/life balance, employees show up and give their all during work shifts. Everyone appreciates the flexibility and works as a team to complete the work demands.

The team approach is productive and helps employees spend more time with their families and, in turn, helps create a work culture that resembles that of a big family––all members are eager to help one another. It’s a dynamic that many companies strive to instill in their cultures, but it takes a lot of trust and communication to achieve.

Creating that warm family feeling in a work environment also requires the right people. During my interview with Lois, she was constantly referring to the incredible people within her organization. She mentioned instances where employees have left because of tempting new titles or pay increases elsewhere, but they’ve come back. One returning employee even said to her, “I didn’t realize how important the people I worked with were, until I didn’t have them anymore.”

Witnessing a family-like environment in a workplace is always impressive to me. It takes such a high level of mutual respect, understanding and trust. At the end of my discussion with Lois, she said something that demonstrated to me just how much faith she has in her employees: “It’s important for me to be compassionate, be honest and listen to my employees––they’re smarter than we are!”

3 replies
  1. Seth
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