The following article was published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. You can read the original article here.
“BPTW HR Heroes Quinn Giardina”
Author: Janet Jones Kendall Contributing Writer
Stepping in as a new human resources director at a company can certainly be challenging.
Stepping in as the very first human resources director a company has ever had … Well, that’s a job for Quinn Giardina.
“When I started with BrightWave (an Atlanta-based email and eCRM agency) in 2015, the company was made up of about 28 people,” Giardina said. “I had to create an entire function from scratch with no historical background. … Initially, it was challenging to show the value of an HR person because HR can sometimes carry a negative stigma as the rule enforcer and policy police. My goal was to be the opposite of that.”
Giardina met the challenge in stride, according to BrightWave President Raj Choudhury.
“Quinn has been a driving force at BrightWave helping define our strong culture and advocating for our people through multiple conventional and unconventional ways that have positively affected the employee experience at BrightWave,” Choudhury said. “Quinn is often the first experience a potential employee has with the agency, and whether someone joins the team or not, I know those folks have a positive outlook because of Quinn’s interactions and professionalism with them. This is often commented on during the interview process and also once someone joins the team and evolves in there role. Quinns tireless partnership with our people has resulted in improved trust, retention, and satisfaction scores; he is a coach to the management team and a big influence on our culture.”
Giardina is a recipient of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2018 HR Hero Award. Winners were chosen from nominations submitted to Atlanta Business Chronicle by a panel including representatives of the Society for Human Resource Management Atlanta chapter and the editorial staff of the Chronicle.
“BrightWave’s CEO knew he had to bring on someone to solely concentrate on maximizing employee success and building one of the best places to work in Atlanta to accomplish this,” said Amber Fawlkes, marketing specialist for BrightWave.
As part of his duties each day, Giardina focuses on BrightWave’s talent development and coaching as well as employee engagement and satisfaction, Fawlkes said.
“Some of his contributions to BrightWave include putting new and improved benefits programs in place; implementing strategic initiatives to increase BrightWave’s size and level of talent; elevating employees’ voices and supporting their professional successes; and building a one-of-a-kind culture,” Fawlkes said.
Giardina has added a number of employee benefits to BrightWave in just two and a half years: a sabbatical program with a month of paid time off, short- and long-term disability benefits, paid paternity leave, paid family leave and improved insurance plans with a health savings account option. He also made improvements to existing benefits including enhancing the maternity leave policy by adding more time off and an innovative phase-back program which gives new mothers (and fathers) more flexibility to ease back into work. He also added more vacation days to employees’ paid time off.
“Quinn’s positive impact on the organization as the first dedicated HR employee of BrightWave beginning in December 2015 was very impressive,” said Jeanne Artime, CEO of SHRM-Atlanta and judge of the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s HR Heroes awards contest. “As a young professional (he graduated from college in 2009), he has accomplished a great deal with measurable results in the two-plus years he has been at BrightWave.”
Giardina also found ways to save the company money and increase company participation with 90 percent of employees reporting being satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs.
“I think that aha moment for me is when I help a manager or employee who is facing a challenge to work through it and come up with a plan,” Giardina said. “One of my gifts, I think, is relationships and people and understanding them and where they come from so a lot of my personal satisfaction comes when they come back a week or a month later and say thank you that you helped me step out of the problem and come up with strategic solutions. I really think I make an impact in that way.”
Giardina also has the opportunity to be the voice of the employees in company executive leadership meetings.
“HR can be known as being a department that has a very stuffy, archaic way of doing things,” Giardina said. “The way I have been successful is by being the opposite of that–of being energetic and approachable and meeting employees where they are. People trust me and that’s what makes me successful. I have the company’s best interest in mind.”
Giardina is also active in the Atlanta community–most notably, perhaps with the Georgia State University’s Habitat for Humanity chapter which he helped reinstate in 2006 during his time as a student there.
“Since Quinn restarted the GSU chapter in 2006, the organization has helped hundreds of students get involved with their community and develop their leadership skills,” Fawlkes said.
Giardina also serves his local community as a member of Buckhead Church and Trees Atlanta, a non-profit citizens’ group that protects and improves Atlanta’s urban forest by planting, conserving and educating. Moreover, Quinn serves global communities as a member of World Vision, a non-profit global Christian humanitarian organization that partners with children, families, and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.