STRONGSVILLE, OH – Union Home Mortgage refers to its employees as “partners.”
“It’s a partnership,” said Christona Cunningham, the company’s director of diversity and inclusion. “We truly value the contribution of everyone at any level in the company. And we really feel like my partner. You don’t obey me. We work together in partnership. “
This emphasis on collaboration, coupled with communication that helps maintain transparency, is a key aspect of Union Home Mortgage’s culture. The company is ranked # 1 in the 2021 Top Workplaces rankings and is ranked for the seventh consecutive year.
For List of Best Jobs of 2021, cleveland.com and Plain Dealer collected 175 of Northeast Ohio’s distinguished employers based on employee surveys. We focused on their response and adaptation during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bill Cosgrove, president and CEO of Union Home, wants good loan officers to make money for the company, but it’s just as important that they are good people, ”said Don Griffiths, vice president of national operations.
“That’s the only thing I’ve ever heard Bill say, ‘I wouldn’t get rid of this company, but if the culture of this company ever changes, I’ll leave,” Griffiths said. “It is so important to him that he wants a great culture.”
According to Cosgrove, Union Home’s senior management hooks up to a teleconference every morning to discuss what the company has done well the day before and what needs to be improved. Senior executives talk about corporate solutions that focus on the cohesion that drives success. Before the pandemic, meetings with partners were held in person at headquarters, and with partners in other states by conference call.
“So when you have that level of cooperation, I think you can score touchdowns,” Cosgrove said. “Often times in business, companies end up – I use that term – by dropping field targets because when you have a tough problem or even a tough opportunity, the first 80 yards of the field are easy to reach. But once you hit that red zone, it’s hard to score a touchdown. So when you don’t have continuity, you end up hitting a lot of goals. But I think that our meetings and our level of communication, once we get into this red zone, we can score a lot of landings. “
Before shutting down last March, Union Home wondered if the company could operate virtually. Ultimately, the company decided that its partners would work remotely, Cosgrove said. The company switched to its current hybrid model in early May.
While the pandemic has changed the way we do business, Union Home Mortgage remains successful in part because of its communication.
However, communication does not start or end with senior management. The company’s management monitors its transparency in relations with its partners.
“We communicate with our partners, we train our partner employees, we train our partner employees,” Cosgrove said. “And technology is really important, advertising is important. Everything matters. But at the end of the day, I think we invest in people more than anyone else in our sector, and if you invest more in people and you have the right people, you will win every day. ”
To improve communication, Cosgrove creates opportunities for partners to receive feedback, including virtually. Prior to the pandemic, Cosgrove personally visited branches in other parts of the country to provide updates and discuss with partners what they thought the company could do better. These tours are now run through Zoom, Cunningham said.
Despite the firm’s continued success during the pandemic, Union Home had to make some adjustments. Clients who want to close mortgages to buy a home, refinance, or sell must sign the final paperwork in ink. To keep people safe when signing documents, Cosgrove said at Union Home, customers stayed in their cars and signed documents in the company’s parking lot.
The training also went virtual: new employees learned about the Union Home code of conduct, company departments and the basics of the mortgage industry.
New hires learn about the importance of a code of conduct by learning about the key principles of company communication. New partners are expected to be involved and engaged as well, ”said Latasha Branch, training instructor for the new recruitment class.
“I have not met a single person who, I can honestly say, was not passionate about his role,” said Branch. “And then with enthusiasm and interest, you explore your role and make sure you have the resources you need to succeed so that you can continue to do what you do every day with passion.”
Branch has worked in teaching throughout his career, but primarily in hospitality and banking.
She was nervous about her limited knowledge of mortgage lending and thought she would be overwhelmed. But everything was the other way around. She has been with the company since February and has a rewarding and rewarding experience.
“In terms of a new career area and path for me, in a completely new industry, it was like what was written for me,” Branch said. “And I truly believe in that. I feel like talking to everyone from senior management to my partners, whom I meet every day, this was the first company in a long time that could honestly say that it was really meant for me. It was meant for a pandemic to happen, for me to find my place here. “