By: Stephanie Harder, Client Services Specialist

Barbara Blankenship, Virginia Housing Development Authority

Many organizations strive to be an employer-of-choice for their employees – to have the most attractive and competitive compensation programs, to attract and retain the best talent, and to create and maintain the most successful leadership team. Sometimes, in order to achieve these goals quickly and efficiently, organizations look for an objective outside view from experts who can evaluate existing practices and suggest better ways of achieving these important business objectives. Two years ago, Barbara Blankenship, Managing Director of Human Resources at Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA), first reached out to Gallagher Titan for a review of VHDA’s existing benefits and total compensation practices. Since that valuable experience, Barbara has engaged Gallagher Titan for additional help from the Compensation practice area as well as the HR Talent Solutions and HR Advisory practice areas. Created in 1972, VHDA helps Virginians attain quality, affordable housing. As a quasi-governmental agency, a large priority for VHDA is to find the right alignment between the public and private sectors through all aspects of the organization. This unique viewpoint is one part of how Gallagher Titan has been able to help VHDA find the right balance.


Initially, VHDA reached out to Gallagher Titan for a high-level look at their total rewards program. Through focus group discussions and a review of the current compensation philosophy, Gallagher Titan was able to recommend changes that would position VHDA as an even more competitive employer. VHDA then returned to the compensation team for a compensation analysis for some of their executives. Gallagher Titan compared the salaries of the incumbents against appropriate local and published data sources to determine if any change was needed. Then VHDA returned to Gallagher Titan for a look at their traditional time off model and Gallagher Titan brought best practice research and suggestions for alternative practices.


Gallagher Titan’s HR Talent Solutions practice area has also been a resource for the organization. VHDA retained Gallagher Titan to proactively source and recruit a strategic Director of Human Resources to assist with supporting the growth of the organization. Given this growth, VHDA then found themselves in need of recruitment assistance, so they reached out to Gallagher Titan for help and were provided with a full desk contract recruiter who is helping them proactively source skilled candidates, while also working as a strategic recruitment partner to their internal clients.


Since engaging Gallagher Titan there have been several improvements at VHDA, but one of the most noticeable for Barbara has been how the team now operates internally: “When Lee and Andy came in they wanted to work with a compensation ‘team,’ not just HR. Including leadership in the Gallagher Titan focus groups and surveys brought them in to be part of the solution. Now, HR partners with finance, legal, audit and risk and we work together to come up with solutions.”


Often, an outsider’s view and expertise can be what is needed to start moving the needle towards change. Barbara explained that VHDA has found success when they turn to outside HR help when needed, “It is always helpful to have the experts on hand that you can bounce things off of, and who know what is happening in the market and can get it done quickly and professionally.” If you find your organization could use some similar (or even not so similar) assistance, Gallagher Titan is here to help you.