This past Tuesday, The Griggs Center for Entrepreneurship and Philanthropy joined in Global Entrepreneurship Week by hosting a luncheon featuring guest speaker April Anthony, CEO of Encompass Home Health and Homecare Homebase.

April, who graduated from ACU in 1989, spent three years as an auditor and CPA with PwC immediately following graduation. However, through an unusual set of circumstances, she ended up owning a small home health care company that she has now grown into a successful company with offices and branch locations in 7 states.

April Anthony sharing a meal with Dr. Schubert and Guests

Throughout this unique journey, April has learned a lot about what it means to be a Christian in all aspects of life. In fact, as she shared in Tuesday’s Q&A-style presentation, she feels that her work is a calling, something that motivates her daily to work hard for what she feels is the central focus of Encompass Home Health.

Like many others, April initially assumed that the focus of her company would be on the patients her company served. However, as she shadowed various employees, she began noticing something even more pressing than the patients.

“I saw employees, who, frankly, had been kind of beat down, who had felt like in the hospital systems and the other health care environments, that they weren’t the most important asset,” explained April. “But pretty quickly, to me, it seemed like they were the only asset. As a matter of fact, they were our product.”

From this launch pad, April began to realign her priorities with a new focus: her employees. In fact, as a CEO, she began to shape her company under the influence of this new perspective. “To me, to say that the patients were first seemed like the wrong answer,” expounded April. “Really, the employees had to be first. They were our product; we had to invest in them, and if we did so, I didn’t really have to talk a lot about patient care. They would just go out and do it.”

April has allowed this principle to completely saturate her company, starting with its mission statement.

April Anthony Talking with Dr. Jim Litton at Tuesday's Luncheon

“In 2006 we embraced the statement, ‘A better way to care,’” explained April. “It’s simple, but…‘a better way to care’ is not some phrase that we put at the bottom of our email…its’ a behavior, it’s an action, it’s the way we act every day…”

April went on to explain that the beauty of this simple, five-word statement is that it’s not an elusive concept; instead it’s a mantra that can be embraced by individuals, rather than just by a corporation. As a result, every member of Encompass Health Care is able to remain focused on a common goal.

April’s focus on employees hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, just this year the company was voted the #3 best employer of its size in Houston, as well as the #4 best place to work in all of Austin, and the #5 best place to work in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

In an article covering the awards, one of Encompass’s employees said, “We have a mission of ‘a better way to care,’ and every day I go out committed to finding the way that I’m going to fulfill my mission, and I know that my company is going to back me up.”

In addition to motivating its employees on a daily basis, Encompass has also been able to play large roles in its employees’ lives. A couple of examples of this are the way the company’s foundation, Encompass Cares, is able to fund employees’ medical mission trips and local service efforts in addition to reaching out to employees who are struggling. In one instance recently, the foundation was able to provide clothing and other resources to an employee whose home was lost in a fire.

Through all of this, April has kept faith at the center of Encompass’s work, not in a pushy way, but in a consistent way that has made it clear to everyone who is a part of it that this company is different.

April believes that it all comes down to her original principle of caring for employees.

“It’s pretty exciting to think about motivating people and the way you can make them feel just by appreciating them, by recognizing them, by giving them a mission that matters,” she confirmed. “Those are the things that make people feel like this is the best company they’ve ever worked for.”