When Safelite AutoGlass sought to stage an annual triathlon to raise money for the African support organization Afrika Tikkun, it was logical for Donna Gibson, the company’s director of benefits, to serve on the committee.
Gibson, however, did more than organize the triathlon—she made her own race debut and recorded the fastest bicycle portion among the female contenders.
That experience literally proved life-changing for Gibson, who has since gone on to become a die-hard triathlete, competing every summer weekend and winning the women’s division of Safelite’s event two years ago.
“Donna has gone through a healthy lifestyle change in her own personal life, and she transferred that to others to inspire them to do the same,” says Steve Miggo, Safelite’s senior vice president of operations and human resources. “She always has the best in mind for our associates. She always is trying to push the envelope to get the company to stretch and do things for the benefit of our overall employee population.”
Indeed, Gibson’s athletic success proves more than just her fitness—it also shows she embodies Safelite’s “people first” philosophy, as she strives to bring health and well-being to all the company’s employees. “We are focused on exercise and living well, and supporting each other,” Gibson says.
Gibson, a 19-year human resources veteran who has a bachelor’s from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and an MBA from Franklin University, started her HR career at JK Evans & Associates before moving to the Longaberger Company and the Licking County Board of MR/DD.
She came to Safelite to serve in a compensation role because she believed in the company’s focus on inspiring its 10,000 workers to be their best. The biggest challenge was that the HR division was too antiquated to live up to that pledge—with limited, high-priced benefits plans and poor third-party customer service.
Her first moves: change the vendor, add three more plans to the benefits lineup and improve customer service by bringing services in-house. “When someone deals with benefits, they are already in a bad situation,” Gibson says. “They don’t need to get incorrect or bad information, or be treated like a number.
“I wanted the ability to move a business forward from a completely different perspective. To meet our company objective, we need to do the basics well first. We need to be in a position to make sure we have the right talent in the right place at the right time.”
Safelite has launched a plethora of health and lifestyle initiatives, including the Safelite Challenge—of which the triathlon is part—to be healthy while raising money for Afrika Tikkun. The company also offers access to organic, locally grown food through a community supported agriculture partnership and quarterly health initiatives to help employees lose weight, get fit, quit smoking and eat better.
“Being at Safelite really did change my life,” Gibson says. “It’s a great place to work. I love the people. I love the philosophy and culture. ‘People First’ is our business philosophy, and I really believe in people being healthier.”
Nicole Kraft is a freelance writer.
Reprinted from the August 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.