The Hignell Companies

Employee Engagement, Satisfaction, and Compensation


"The Hignell Companies” had its beginning in construction shortly after World War II.  A building boom had begun as returning soldiers came back to restart their lives; for many, this meant new families and new homes.  Business was brisk until an economic downturn in the mid-1960’s slowed home construction.

Doug Hignell joined his father in 1970, bringing new vitality and an expanded vision. Since then the company’s services have grown to include remodeling and new construction, home repair and maintenance, residential property management, commercial property management, homeowners' association (HOA) management, and an assisted living community.  The company now employs about 160 people.


Hignell’s diverse businesses require several classifications of operating and support personnel, different management levels and skillsets, a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, and a range of experience levels across several fields.  The company’s core values include providing a good working environment, encouraging employee engagement, and providing fair compensation but the diverse workforce poses challenges in determining how well these goals are being met and what improvements might be made for the benefit of the employees, the clients and customers, and the company itself.

“Working with a large and diverse group such as The Hignell Companies can be very challenging, however Morrison & Company made the process seem seamless.” –

Phil Larios, President & CEO, The Hignell Companies


After discussions with the Hignell’s executive team, Morrison & Company developed strategies to measure employee satisfaction (how employees feel about their compensation, benefits, work environment, career development, and relationship with management), measure employee engagement (employees’ commitment and connection to their work and what motivates them), compare compensation practices to objective measures, and review ways to minimize employee turnover.  This information would be analyzed to develop a compensation philosophy and other policies to optimize and balance these factors. 

We developed an anonymous employee survey asking employees to rate both the importance of, and their satisfaction with, 26 job satisfaction factors.  Employees were also asked to rate their level of engagement in 16 separate areas.  The survey was based on a nationally conducted study of hundreds of companies, allowing the results to be compared to national averages.  In addition we calculated “satisfaction gaps,” the difference between the importance employees placed on various satisfaction factors and how satisfied they were with those elements of their jobs.

The surveys allowed for classification by division and employee level to permit assessment of specific ratings by division and staff level; comments were permitted for employees to provide details or address other matters if they wished.  Morrison personnel distributed, explained, and collected the surveys directly to assure anonymity. 

We then conducted a detailed assessment of the company’s compensation practices by division and employee level.  We compared the results to both an independent national database and a survey of several companies belonging to a business association in the same region. 

Turnover is inevitable in any company and in some instances it is necessary.  Avoidable and unnecessarily high turnover, however, can come at a significant cost.  We assessed the company’s turnover experience then grouped the factors addressed in the employee survey into three categories to assess their likely impact on turnover:  1) the company and the nature of the work, 2) training and career opportunities, and 3) relationship factors.

“The Hignell Companies is committed to creating a corporate culture that promotes a high level of employee satisfaction.  Although this is a primary focus, it became increasingly challenging given the diverse structure of the company and its workforce.  Morrison & Company understood we didn’t want to just talk about it, but that we wanted results through being able to identify and measure where we succeeded and where we fell short.  Brent and his team delivered the critical data management needed to make our efforts effective.” -

Mike Rossman, CFO, The Hignell Companies


We provided detailed information on specific and identifiable areas of employee satisfaction and engagement by division and employee level accompanied by an assessment of the results and recommendations for action.  We provided an assessment of factors that can contribute to undesired turnover and suggested cost-effective methods to mitigate them.  We also outlined the key factors for an overall compensation philosophy to achieve the company’s goals of fair compensation and optimal results for both the company and its employees. 

The company has used the findings of our study to improve policies to the mutual benefit of the company and an engaged workforce.