Workplace Excellence Award for the City of Yuma
02/28/2011 | Jack Dodd, Director of Human Resources
The City of Yuma was presented the annual Workplace Excellence Award in the Large Business category at a luncheon on Wednesday, January 12, 2011. On nearly all of the Workplace Excellence Award nominations for the city of Yuma, the word "family" was included. "It is like a big family," said one employee nominator.
What makes this award even better is the fact that the employees of the City of Yuma nominated their place of employment and indeed it is "one big family." The Workplace Excellence award program is an annual awards program to recognize business's nominated by the employees of that business. The awards program is sponsored by the Yuma Sun, Yuma Private Industry Council (YPIC), the Arizona Western College, the Arizona Better Business Bureau and the Southwest Arizona Human Resources Association. This year, the focus of the awards program was work-life balance.
About the Award
The awards are done in four (4) categories: small business (less than 15 employees), medium-size business (16 to 80 employees), large business (81 employees or more) and overall winner.
Eligibility rules include that the nominations for the Workplace Excellence awards must come from an employee of the company. Chief executive officers, owners or human resource managers are not allowed to nominate their company. In addition, judging for the awards were processed by Yuma Sun staff only, with a panel of independent, out-of-town judges making the final decisions.
According to Greg Wilkinson, Yuma's city administrator, management has worked hard to create an open-door policy that has been particularly critical over the past year as the city faced furloughs and increased workloads. Additionally, management has created a culture where employees know that the entire team always gives its best effort. The commitment extends to the city leadership as well so that "employees are encouraged to find better, more efficient ways of doing things, and are free to bring those ideas forward to be put into general practice," said Wilkinson.
The City of Yuma was judged on three (3) different areas.
Recruitment and Retention
Job security is a great attraction to employment at the City of Yuma. Every department worked hard during the tough economic times to minimize spending without sacrificing our commitment to the community, and despite mandatory furloughs, employees continue to provide excellent service.
As positions were vacated by retirement or resignation, we encouraged our employees to cross train and consider promotion opportunities. HR emphasized a recruitment strategy which focuses on filling necessary positions with internal employees. Trainee clauses were added to many job postings which allowed internal candidates the opportunity to qualify for positions they may not otherwise have qualified for by obtaining full qualifications within a limited time period. The advantages were that we succeeded in increasing employee morale by providing 59 internal promotional opportunities and, in turn, held many positions vacated through these promotions which contributed to our bottom line and helped to avoid layoffs.
In order to provide for employees and families and as a compliment to work/life balance, ample leave options are provided starting full-time employees with 136 hours of leave annually, with increases every five years. Employees also accrue a major-medical leave bank. A higher than average insurance plan is also provided.
One of our most innovative programs has been the catastrophic leave donation program. Establishing a leave donation program in 2001 was a comprehensive way for the City of Yuma to enhance the benefits available to our employees, with limited cost to the employer. Our program allows those employees who have a catastrophic injury or illness to request up to 480 hours of donated leave from their coworkers. Since the successful implementation of this program, all 75 participants received donations from their fellow employees to get them back to work and attend to their personal needs without a lapse in pay.
Learning, Training and Development
The City of Yuma's learning culture is the Ongoing Learning Environment (OLE).
Human Resources strives to create professional resources for long-term organizational learning. We work to align the daily activities of employees with the City's core values. Activities are structured for staff to develop or enhance capacity to succeed in conducting business in their chosen field and provide quality services while meeting growing demands.
The ongoing schedule includes seven areas of training that impact performance, skills or knowledge within the organization. Employees can self-select classes that are offered internally or they can be selected to continue development options through a department investment in external training. Started in 2008, this year shows 93 class options offered, with over 4500 hours spent on training.
We integrate collaboration, communication, teamwork, leadership and management practices throughout the organization. Even in lean times, we are able to provide learning opportunities which encourage employee to achieve success.