Phoenix Energy Technologies: Where “Phamily” Comes First By Caroline Smith
When Lisa Varga started Phoenix Energy Technologies 12 years ago, she was motivated by a desire to establish an environment where employees were deeply cared for. A majority share of the Irvine, CA based company was recently acquired by a leading energy corporation, Duke Energy, and has been voted one of the Best Places to Work in Orange County. Needless to say, Varga seems to have accomplished some amazing things with her growing company of 75 team members.
Phoenix Energy Technologies provides enterprise energy management software and services for commercial, retail and higher education customers. As a solutions-oriented organization, Lisa and her team diagnose opportunities and implement strategies which reduce energy consumption and costs. Co.tribute spoke with Lisa to see how her commitment to employee care fuels the company’s success from the inside out.
Nurturing a Positive Workplace Culture
The term “employee” doesn’t really jive with Phoenix Energy Technologies’ culture. Instead, employees are called “Phoenix Phamily.” Lisa grew up in inner-city Baltimore and left home at a young age, and while she has worked hard to get where she is today, she values the input and encouragement of those who walked her journey with her. As a result, she used her own experiences to communicate her vision for what Phoenix Energy Technologies’ culture should look like. Among these attributes is a family focus. For instance, Lisa believes her team members shouldn’t ask others to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. Treating one another with mutual respect and appreciation is key at this company. In addition, she embraces each and every one of her employees for their unique values, passions, strengths and weaknesses. In fact, Lisa tells her managers to get to know the individual personality traits behind their team members, including each one’s passions and beliefs. She believes that each employee needs to be nurtured toward personal and professional success.
Giving back to the community is another way in which Phoenix Energy Technologies develops a strong company culture. A few of their activities include charity runs, Bible studies, donations to food banks, gift drives, and volunteer events. These efforts reinforce the ethos of the company, and help bring employees together to bond and make a difference. When an issue is close to the heart of an employee, they’re encouraged to bring these causes forward so Phoenix Energy Technologies can find a way to invest in them. For example, cancer has been an issue that has touched the lives of many employees. As a result, the company and its employees are extremely dedicated to supporting organizations and initiatives like Relay for Life focused on fighting cancer.
Giving Back to the Team Which Gives to You
Lisa and the leadership team at Phoenix Energy Technologies strive to build camaraderie and shared purpose in the workplace in many ways. For instance, once a month, Lisa sends out a blog post internally, featuring stories and thoughts which are not work-related. One of the most remarkable features of the company’s culture is its deep commitment to supporting and looking out for one another. When a staff member’s son made it to the Super Bowl with the Panthers, Phoenix employees threw a party and made a game out of guessing the player’s stats. The Phoenix Phamily isn’t limited to the employees; it encompasses each individual’s family, clients, and loved ones as well. Lisa explains each year, employees are given the opportunity to attend the Landmark Forum. They also have the opportunity to attend a Relationship Boot Camp with their spouse, so that the whole family benefits from this personal growth opportunity. To Lisa, these gestures of goodwill are a no-brainer: when home life is stable, employees come to work more motivated and more fulfilled.
According to Lisa, at Phoenix Energy Technologies, it’s “not just about showing up to work. It’s about being there for each other.” Just as they celebrate when good news befalls the Phamily, they also come through to support their colleagues in times of difficulty. When someone experiences illness, grief, or hardship, often their allotted leave time isn’t enough to allow them to deal with these personal matters. As Lisa explains, “When something tragic happens to them, be it cancer or a premature baby — there are so many things which come at you that you don’t think of — the last thing you want to think of is, ‘how do I get my job done, and is my job secure?’” Thus, Lisa makes sure employees have the proper time off and flexibility they need.
For instance, when a staff member had a baby born extremely prematurely, the child had to stay in a hospital across the state. This of course made it very difficult for the team member to go to work, so Phoenix Energy Technologies accommodated his needs by allowing him to work remotely while he took care of his wife and child. There are endless similar examples: from paying for employees to visit the best cancer hospitals, to giving extra leave when a loved one is ill. These stories demonstrate Phoenix Energy Technologies’ generosity and support of their employees. Lisa explained how beneficial these gestures are for workplace morale and performance overall. Their gratitude and level of commitment to the company skyrockets, and they channel this energy into their work and home lives.
A Legacy of Love and Dedication
Lisa spoke warmly about the sentiments she hopes to instill in her employees and the legacy she strives to leave. She hopes those who have worked with and for her over the years will “have the feeling that we actually cared, that I actually understood what their personal desires were, and that I really wanted them to win personally, and professionally.” As Lisa continues to go above and beyond the call of duty to support her Phoenix Phamily, it’s doubtless this legacy will prevail.