A native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Dawn Motovidlak had a desire for something incredible; a desire to help organizations achieve their goals by bettering the lives of their employees. And to pursue her dream, Dawn left her family home. She graduated from Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College) and earned a master’s degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore in Occupational Social Work, with a specialization in Employee Assistance Program (EAP) administration.
As an intern, Dawn joined Janus Associates, Inc., a company started in 1983, which provided Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) services and Drug-Free Workplace Programs (DFWP) to local organizations. Eighteen months after graduating with her master’s degree, Dawn purchased Janus Associates and began to grow the business. In 2001, Janus Associates acquired Business Health Services (BHS), a local competitor with capabilities to service organizations across the country.
Today, BHS provides a wide range of services to help organizations improve employee engagement, health productivity and safety. The company’s industry experts work with their customers to create customized, sustainable solutions tailored to address an organization’s specific needs.
Headquartered in Baltimore, MD, BHS has offices in Baltimore, MD; White Marsh, MD; Lafayette, LA and Raleigh, NC. The business has expanded to provide service around the world.
In addition to Dawn’s leadership being instrumental to thousands of organizations from all industry sectors, she served on the board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake for eleven (11) years. She currently serves on a program advisory committee for The Y of Central Maryland, is on the board for the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Metropolitan Baltimore and is the Vice-Chair of the board for Medstar Union Memorial Hospital.
In 2015, The Daily Record named Dawn one of Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs and one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women. Additionally, she was recognized as one of the top women CEOs by the Baltimore Business Journal, is a three-time winner of Smart CEO Magazine’s “Future 50” award, a two-time finalist of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award and a 2012 Brava Award recipient, which recognizes women business leaders who combine their entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for giving back to the community.
Interview Snippet with CEO, Dawn Motovidlak:
Q. Over the years, what kind of mixed responses have you received from your customers and how have they motivated you to grow BHS and its offerings?
When I first started my career, I was self-conscious about my young age. I feared customers wouldn’t trust me with complex employee and organizational challenges because of my obvious lack of experience. This made me work even harder to build the trust of my current and prospective customers. At that time in my career, mental health and substance abuse in the workplace was a taboo topic. I can’t tell you how many business leaders told me they didn’t have employees with “those” problems. Eventually, their organization or one of their employees experienced a crisis and they reached out to me for an emergency consultation or assistance. Being super responsive, providing expert advice and caring for their employees in a time of need is what built their trust in me.
Trust allowed me to convince decision makers to put a program in place to offer employees proactive assistance with their personal problems before they evolved into a costly problem for the organization. I worked extremely hard to develop my reputation, so these same values have been instilled in my team members. A couple years ago, we hired a marketing firm, which conducted interviews with many of our current and past customers. I was very proud that almost all of them remarked about their trust in my company.
Customer feedback and satisfaction have played an integral role in BHS’ development over the years. We regularly survey our customers and their employees to ensure we are not only addressing the issues presented by employees, but also delivering on the corporate outcomes as expected. We have a detailed Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Program, which ensures twelve (12) quality metrics are constantly met.
Customer response and needs have also been used to grow BHS’ service offerings over the years. Because of the link between mental and physical health, we developed a product which improves physical health by addressing underlying mental and behavioral health issues.
Q. A company’s behavior is as important as its economic performance or the quality of its products. How do you interpret this saying?
I think this is saying a company’s behavior, how it consistently treats its customers and its employees, is crucial in establishing trust in the business community and trust is what drives economic performance. I believe a company’s behavior is most important. A company can’t have high-quality products and high economic performance without superior company behavior.
The key to our success is standing by our five core values. The most important one is: “We treat our customers and employees the same way – Extraordinarily!” We believe if we take great care of our employees they will take great care of our customers. In turn, our customers trust us, are loyal to us, buy additional services from us and refer their friends to us. Our employees deliver on our promise for high-quality programs and our employees provide extraordinary customer service 100% of the time. That drives growth. All you must do is take extraordinary care of your team.
Q. Is your company a ‘leader’ or a ‘follower’? What are the core values of BHS?
BHS is a leader. We have been a leader in administering EAPs since our inception, yet we have had to evolve by developing new, innovative service lines to defend against challenges in the EAP marketplace. Today, we are leaders in Behavioral Risk Management as all our work-based programs (EAPs are one example) are solutions which address employees’ and/or organizations’ unhealthy behaviors, which create risk and liability for a business.
Our core values are:
Q. Is it true that striving for both ‘ethics’ and ‘success’ in a business is a tough feat?
Not at all. BHS is proof that ethical business practices lead to success. We are a business where trust is essential to every interaction and the success of the company relies almost solely on its reputation. We will not compromise on this. For us, trust is built on following through with our promises, one of which is strictly adhering to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics and the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) Code of Ethics.
Q. Trust is a difficult attribute to measure and a delicate dynamic to maintain. How do you maintain this with your clients?
Following through on our promises is how we maintain trust. We promise to deliver extraordinary experiences, achieve our metrics for quality services, be responsive, offer expert advice, adhere to the NASW and EAPA Codes of Ethics and follow our core values. Also, at BHS, we don’t compromise on building relationships with our customers; we take time to develop strong, long-lasting partnerships. Our people are consultative and genuine, and they spend the time they need getting to really know their customers. They become part of our “extended family”. We know our customers’ pains and we stand ready with solutions. Our customers stay with us because they trust us. Our 97% customer retention rate is how we measure trust, as well as the fact that they frequently tell us.
The Future Vision
With the increased awareness of mental health and substance abuse and BHS’ knowledge of how those problems impact the workplace, BHS has developed a variety of programs to reduce stigma, proactively address problems and provide consultation to business leaders when managing employees with potential mental health and/or substance abuse issues. Also, because of the lack of mental health and substance abuse treatment providers who accept insurance today, BHS is available to provide concierge-style assistance and resource navigation to individuals dealing with a problem.