Culture & Leadership

What it looks like to support employees during life’s biggest challenges

Like many of my colleagues, I’ve been part of GFM|CenterTable for a long time. For 18 years, I have watched the company grow from a scrappy start-up to one of the best places to work in the country.

We recently celebrated our 10th year on the Outside Magazine Best Places to Work list, and we’re proud of this because the ranking values what we value: employee happiness. When we talked over a celebratory lunch about what we most appreciate at GFM|CenterTable, one theme kept coming up: when life’s inevitable big challenges surface, we know our coworkers have our backs. And that’s important in a world that can at times feel overwhelming.

As National Gratitude Month draws to a close, I’m grateful to share these stories of how working for a company that feels more like family has helped so many of us navigate some of life’s toughest transitions, from the births of new babies to illness or loss. Sometimes, a little help goes a long way, which is why we believe that supporting staff when they need it most is key to creating and sustaining a healthy company culture.

“Years before the pandemic and remote work, I lived in Golden, up a canyon and on top of a mountain. My husband traveled for work all the time and we had four dogs, each with health issues. They required a lot of support and I felt I was drowning trying to manage their health issues each morning and evening. I also had a long commute. I broke down at work one day and my supervisor said, “Let’s just figure it out and make it work for you.” I started to come in early, cutting my commute by 15 minutes, and I left early, again cutting my commute. I finished my day working from home. It was life changing for me and I knew I had found my people.” – Team member since 2016

“Right after I started working for the company, my wife’s father passed away. We had to rush out of town, and I needed to stay with my wife and her family to help manage their situation for a couple of weeks. Everyone was so supportive, and I was the new guy. It made a horrible situation much easier.” – Team member since 2014

“GFM has been so supportive of me during my mom’s recent ALS diagnosis, allowing me the flexibility to work from her home in Canada or to take time off to spend with my parents as needed.” – Team member since 2020

“When my Dad got really sick and was in the ICU one week before I was due with my first baby, I called [GFM|CenterTable Founder] Laura in a panic. She calmly said, let’s start your maternity leave now and get everything off your plate so you can focus on your family. I felt guilty that I was asking for more time off before my leave but she didn’t think twice about it. My Dad passed away shortly after having my baby and I was completely overwhelmed with the thought of coming back to work. Again, I was simply told “let’s push your start date back three weeks so you have more time.” I was blown away by how supportive and understanding everyone was and they didn’t make me feel bad at all for needing more time. And because of that – I came back in a much more stable capacity.” – Team member since 2020

“GFM|CenterTable allowed and encouraged my transition to a 75% full-time employee so I could spend more time in my art studio. It feels like they respect me as a person first, and an employee second.” – Team member since 2021

“Every time I am sick I get a slew of texts asking if I need anything. Ramonna [GFM|CenterTable President] once forced me to order food from door-dash on her! The leadership team writes regular notes of gratitude along with generous gift cards for my hard work which makes me feel very appreciated.”- Team member since 2021  

“Back when I had small kids at home, and a husband who traveled every week, I was entirely overwhelmed by my schedule. It was hard to get through a day, let alone a week. Aware of my obvious stress, Laura suggested I try dialing back a bit, and work shorter days. She made sure team members understood that my day ended at 4:00 Eastern Time, as I lived on the East coast then, and everyone respected my schedule. I also had the freedom to move from a full-time employee to a part-time employee to a contractor and back again to a full-time employee. I was able to adjust to fit my work/life responsibilities which was amazing, because sometimes, life is a lot!” – Team member since 2004