In 1985, Quicken Loans was launched as a more convenient alternative to traditional lenders. Quicken Loans and its Family of Companies now employ over 17,000 full-time team members in Detroit’s urban core and has helped over 4 million families finance their homes.
When Quicken Loans moved to Detroit in 2011, the City was on the brink of bankruptcy. Its population was down to one-third of its 1950s peak. The mayor had been sentenced to prison for corruption. Boarded up homes filled the city, and public spaces were trashed.
Today, downtown Detroit is barely recognizable, having undergone a decade-long economic resurgence. Quicken Loans’ campus and nearby neighborhoods now bustle with business and recreational pursuits. Streets are clean. Parks are mowed and attractive. Once empty buildings are now filled with new shops, restaurants and hotels.
Detroit’s comeback and Quicken Loans’ success are inextricably linked to the company’s embrace of two core operating principles: create a workplace that fosters employee well-being and engagement, and pursue community investment as a unifying cultural and social principle.
This approach has helped Quicken Loans become the nation’s largest mortgage lender, contribute to Detroit’s regeneration, attract and retain highly engaged employees and win multiple awards as a great place to work. It also shows how prioritizing employee well-being, and linking it to broader community well-being, can deliver bottom-line returns.
Culture and Employee Experience
When visiting Quicken Loans headquarters in Detroit, the impact of its workplace culture is immediate. Everywhere, employees collaborate in groups surrounded by “Engineered to Amaze” signs and slogans that reenforce innovation, teamwork and customer service.
The employees who we talked to were bubbling with authentic enthusiasm. Team members passed each other in hallways giving high fives. They are proud to work at Quicken Loans and find purpose in their jobs. The widespread team-oriented connection we observed at Quicken Loans is cultural, and it is real.
“Most places run on P&L statements, but our company runs on culture,” says Mike Malloy, Quicken Loans’ Chief People Officer. “Workplace culture is something we’ve nurtured from our inception to ensure every team member feels connected to our mission, has a voice and looks for new ways to do things without being impeded by bureaucracy.”
Another aspect of its culture is the company’s deep commitment to Detroit. Unlike many companies that practice CSR or community service as a marketing strategy, Quicken Loans has made revitalizing Detroit a core cultural principle that helps team members feel part of a larger mission that informs and energizes their daily work.
Detroit’s past and present loom large at company headquarters. Large black and white photos celebrating that city’s past as an icon of industry and American middle class life hang beside images of the new Detroit. A Quicken Loans employee nicknamed “Detroit’s Ambassador” knows everyone downtown and proudly takes visitors on tours.
All of this is intentional and strategic.
Quicken Loans’ founder and chairman, Dan Gilbert, took workplace culture seriously, seeing it as a source of competitive advantage. Knowing that effective cultures do not happen by accident, Gilbert took steps to define “how we do things around here” at Quicken Loans.
Dan wrote ISMs in Action, a book that for over twenty years has served as the de facto employee handbook. The book explains what it means to be a Quicken Loans team member based on nineteen core principles, such as encouraging teamwork, celebrating a diverse workforce, practicing social responsibility and making customer service a top priority.
“The “ISMS” are the non-negotiable core of everything we stand for. They function as a blueprint for our workplace culture,” says Malloy. “And alongside our commitment to Detroit, they help us cultivate an authentic sense of pride and purpose in our workforce that facilitates a deep connection and commitment to our common goals.”
Helping Employees Thrive
Quicken Loans fosters an employee-centric workplace by creating good jobs, paying living wages and providing great benefits. It also prioritizes long-term career paths. This has led to high employee performance, low turnover and strong loyalty and morale, as evidenced by both internal and third party surveys.
The company pursues whole-person health through an impressive menu of programs, including comprehensive healthcare coverage, dental coverage, life insurance, disability benefits, and vision insurance. Other benefits include prepaid legal and a generous 401(k).
To encourage physical well-being, the company opened a new 17,000 square foot concierge health center providing primary, holistic and urgent care. In addition to serving as an employee’s primary care physician, it includes a full-service pharmacy, physical therapy, and wellness coaching, along with a broad spectrum of other medical services.
Quicken Loans’ approach to employee financial well-being centers on helping employees build stable financial futures. The company pays good wages, with the lowest paid workers earning no less than $15 an hour. It offers great benefits such as four weeks of paid vacation and 7 paid holidays in the first year of employment.
To support financial well-being, the company offers financial education programs via one-on-one counseling and webinars. It offers a tuition reimbursement program, employee purchasing discounts, daycare subsidies and a generous parental leave program.
To support mental and emotional well-being, employees can receive behavioral health services through the new concierge health center that partners with a local psychotherapy office to offer convenient, confidential on-site sessions. The company recently held a mental health summit to help managers spot and intervene in cases of employee mental illness.
Helping employees thrive in physical, financial and mental well-being has paid off. Turnover is far below industry averages. Employees report low stress and high engagement. A recent Quicken Loans’ internal survey found that 92% of team members agreed with the statement, “the work I do has an impact on our company’s success,” and 83% agreed, “I feel my work has special meaning; it’s not just a job.”
Investing in Local Communities
While many factors contributed to Detroit’s comeback, Quicken Loans and its parent company, Rock Holdings, played a major role. The company spent billions in strategic investments and enlisted other companies to open offices in downtown Detroit, including Microsoft, LinkedIn, Amazon, Pinterest, Ally Bank and Fifth Third Bank.
The company helped stabilize the local housing market, reduce blight and revive neighborhoods through “Rehabbed and Ready,” a public-private partnership between the City of Detroit, Quicken Loans, the Detroit Land Bank Authority and The Home Depot, which took homes from the Detroit Land Bank, rehabbed them and made them available at a loss to set new comparable values in neighborhoods across the city, raising the equity of surrounding homeowners.
Quicken Loans invested in creating walkable downtown public spaces and fostered local entrepreneurship to support and grow Detroit-based business. It provides resources for education for Detroit students from 6th grade through graduation, and employment and career opportunities to grow a pool of employable Detroiters.
And through community sponsorships, the company supports Detroit’s tourism industry as a way to create jobs and generate revenue for local businesses and the government.
All of this advances Quicken Loans’ strategic business goals.
For example, the company promotes employee volunteerism to link its corporate culture to community well-being, and because it galvanizes its workforce and attracts the type of team playing, civic-minded job applicants that Quicken Loans most wants as team members.
Volunteers in the company’s home communities in Detroit, Cleveland, Phoenix and Charlotte engage in home renovations, neighborhood cleanups, tutoring and feeding the homeless, and they contributed 725,000 volunteer hours nationwide. In Detroit alone, team members have contributed 400,000 volunteer hours with impacts that include:
- $17.8 billion in statewide economic impact
- $5 billion team member wages
- $1.6 billion in state and local wages
- $200 million contributed to community organizations and programming
Quicken Loans’ culture has produced a highly engaged and loyal workforce. The company reports an 82% employee engagement rate, with 88% of employees saying Quicken Loans is a great place to work. The company has been listed on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For for 16 years, and has won nine customer satisfaction awards by JD Power. The lender has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Quicken Loans’ winning formula for building its company culture around community and employee well-being has paid off. And it serves as a case study of how building strategic cultures of employee and community well-being can serve as a model for employers everywhere.
Steven Van Yoder, a cofounder at Returns On Wellbeing Institute, provided editorial support to this article.