Category Archives: HR Award

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AlliedBarton: Winner of 2007 Department of the Year Award (12 or more department employees), 2008 Award for Excellence in Leadership Development and 2009 Award for Excellence in Talent Acquisition

HR Best Practices: Profiles of winners of Human Resources Department of the Year Awards

AlliedBarton Security Services, headquartered in Conshohocken, PA is the largest American-owned contract security company in the United States. They have been providing quality security services and highly trained personnel since 1957 to clients in a number of industry sectors, including commercial real estate, higher education, healthcare, residential communities, manufacturing and industrial, financial institutions, shopping centers and other commercial facilities.

Today, with over 50 years of experience in the contract security industry, AlliedBarton’s over 50,000 employees and 100 offices nationwide service a client base that includes more than 200 Fortune 500 companies across the country. Through their combined base of talent and personnel, AlliedBarton brings unmatched resources, expertise and knowledge to customers’ security programs. Selected as one of Training Magazine’s “Top 125” five years in a row for training excellence, AlliedBarton’s award-winning training programs focus on preparing employees to be professional and accountable in a variety of situations and primed for future career development.

Scott Rosen met with Jim Gillece in February to discuss how AlliedBarton won the 2007 Department of the Year Award (12 or more department employees), 2008 Award for Excellence in Leadership Development and, most recently, the 2009 Award for Excellence in Talent Acquisition under his supervision.

Gillece has deep roots in Philadelphia. He has a bachelor’s from LaSalle University, an MBA from St. Joe’s University in pharmaceutical marketing and completed post-graduate work at Yale University in leadership and team effectiveness. He started his career in Philadelphia as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pfizer; and continued his career there for over 17 years. In July 2006, he joined the AlliedBarton team as Vice President of Learning & Development, a role he had for six months before moving into his current position as Chief People Officer, Senior Vice President, Human Capital Management.

Gillece joined AlliedBarton at a time right after a quick, large growth. They had outdated processes that did not match their new company. Within Gillece’s first year, they won the 2007 HR Department of the Year Award.

Gillece would not call himself a workaholic, just someone with an intense focus. “You have one shot to make a first impression and so we had very ambitious goals for the first year.” In that first year he was at the helm, they created the Leadership Boot Camp; introduced an online performance management; created a new talent plan in process; and began succession planning.

“Mark Spool and Ed Dunne were the two judges, and after our presentation they said well, we just want to clarify what was actually done over the last year and we said all of it.”

“One of the reasons for my role is to have a coordinated approach to human capital management. We had recruiting doing something in a silo, HR in a silo, training in a silo, to bring those three pillars together in a coordinated approach to execute on business priorities. It was a significant turnaround. I also viewed it as a startup. There is a wide open canvas to be able as a practitioner to…for example, performance management; there might have been 5% of the manager’s complaints with performance management process in the organization. They were done paper wise and when they got sent into corporate they were in some drawer somewhere. So to translate that to a webified performance management process that then correlated to a pay per performance system, then correlates to individual development plans that correlates to succession planning that correlates to leadership development, sort of weaving that whole process together has been an evolution for us.”

There was some skepticism to Gillece’s plan, as with any plan that you cannot foresee the immediate results, but his team saw the changes through.

“I think early on we really had to earn credibility within the organization and then I think our senior leadership, especially Bill Whitmore, our CEO, has a very sophisticated view on what he thought was needed. He also knew that our thought process and what we have done in the past, which got us to this level that probably wouldn’t get us to the next level in that it delays the focus on developing our people and developing people in this company needed to change our higher focus level.”

Early on, the HR team’s mission was to resolve a significant turnover at a manager level in the organization. They had about a 30% plus turnover–both attrition and realignments–in account managers. These were the people who communicated directly with clients, so they had a direct impact on the staff turning over at a client. This was an obvious issue and an opportunity to make change. AlliedBarton won the ASTD Best Practice for leadership development, the national best practice for an intervention that they did called Leadership Boot Camp.

“What we did was we brought the account managers’ supervisors in and we taught them employee engagement skills. It was a three and a half day intervention. Over the period of six months, we reduced their account manager turnover from thirty percent to eighteen percent. As important, our client retention increased and for every percentage point that goes up, that means millions of dollars to the organization.”

“I think one of the things we’re fortunate, at least from the executive level and our great CEO, all the lights were green. From an execution standpoint when you have senior leadership buy in, you have a business need from an HR leadership standpoint, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t just put your foot on the gas.”

Gillece and his team did not know if they won the Award or not when they attended the event that evening. “We tried to make it a fun night whether we were going to win or lose. We really had no indication, we really had no clue.” They booked a table at the event for their team.

Jim told Scott, “We got there and Mark goes ‘Hey do you guys mind if we sit with you?’ Then, we had a table that was right in a good, nice spot so we were kind of giggling. We had a little conspiracy theory going on like that’s odd that he would sit with us and if they announced that we were the loser, would he want to be sitting with us.”

“I think winning an award like this obviously sends a message but word like that extends beyond these four walls. It means that much to us in organizational announcements created out to the company.” He continues with a true story of the reach of the win. “There was a CEO of a company that we service that was in the room. So there’s some very interesting…that gets back to some of our clients in the room, they come across some of our employees and did you know at the most recent one, a woman came up to me and said that her husband is a security officer for our company and I loved your speech. There’s many different ways that you hear it touches people. I get surprised at how many times that happens. I got invited to speak at the Philly SHRM meeting.”

In 2008, AlliedBarton won the Award for Excellence in Leadership Development. Gillece, as well as most of the executives at AlliedBarton, had read Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood’s book, The Leadership Code. From the book, Gillece and his team were able to develop best practices on how to identify leadership behaviors at all levels through strategic thinking. Strategic thinking looks very different at the C-suite than it does at the manager level. You need to clearly define what the expectations and how it translates to the customers.

“Over the last few years we’ve done, I think, a very good job at translating expectations at each level in the organization from executive to senior leader to manager to manager to the individual contributor, defining these are the core common and critical leadership behaviors and this is what it looks like at your level and what it’s been able to do is if you’re a manager and you’re saying why am I not getting promoted, it’s very clear to say that you’re not necessarily acting or behaving or exhibiting this above you and potentially you’re saying well, you actually are acting and thinking like this below you.”

In 2009, they won the Award for Excellence in Talent Acquisition.

“We had some work to do to be considered, I think, at the level that I wanted that group to be at. Working with the leadership of that particular group, one validation of the work beyond the most important, are clients within the company through our corporate surveys here. My expectation is that we’ll see those numbers dance but also it would be really interesting to get some external recognition as being a world-class recruiting organization. In addition to this award, we won the OnRec, on-line recruiting award which is a national award, in 2009. That’s for recent innovations using Twitter, Jigsaw, Facebook, Linkedin. I put a premium on this group about leveraging technology from a recruiting perspective. It was really exciting to win a technology award around that and then also certainly the validation from [the HR Department of the Year Awards].”

“I don’t know if they’re magical but we really started to utilize predictability analysis so as we continue to get significantly more individuals applying for positions, we really spent the time to identify what are the skills, behaviors and attributes that we want to have, more focused on behaviors that we’d want those individuals to have.”

For example, people ask security guards a battery of questions, most of which have nothing to do with safety and security. People want to know where the restrooms are or where to get the best slice of pizza in the area surrounding the building.

“Those questions are more commonly asked of our security officers than, ‘Hey if we get hit by a plane, what exit do I go to?’ So we like to say that we major in customer service and minor insecurity. Understanding for each position in this company from a recruiting perspective, what are those pieces that make up the attraction of that individual?

“When we secure a hospital or hospital system, that’s a different skill set than maybe protecting the Comcast Center. What would I mean by that? You would want to look for a security officer that has great empathy skills, that was patient, that would be able to communicate while your son with the broken arm from the basketball game is waiting two hours while there was an accident on Route 70 and sorry, Mr. Rosen, that’s why you have to wait a little bit extra and say it in a very empathetic way because patient satisfaction is something that’s driving compensation to the hospital. So we’re part of their office now and we’re part of their patient satisfaction and we want to make sure that those individuals have the premium skills.”

Understanding the true needs of a client, outside the main function, is extremely important in keeping that client and being known as a company if its field who understands its customers and its employees.

“If you’re going to be competitive and you’re going to be in a competitive market, you want to be compared to the best. Philadelphia has some world class companies based in Philadelphia. I think in many of these things that we do, they’re somewhat aspirational that we want to have confirmation from a third party source to say, hey, what you’re doing is interesting and then also the expertise that you have as far as judges to be able to say, hey, if we didn’t win say I think you got some work to do in this particular area of your business or of your shop. So it is a conscientious strategy because having these awards begin to differentiate us from our competitors which the security market is an extremely competitive market.”

“For this particular award, at least when I came here, I know that it had a great reputation that it wasn’t just a check the box, that there was a significant process involved in it.” As part of the Awards’ lifecycle, winners of the Department of the Year Award are invited to be judges the following year(s) after their win. Jim has been judging for two years, so he has seen both sides of the judging process.

“The types of questions that a judge asks, sometimes it will catch you, because you haven’t asked that question of yourself or your group. I find that to be very valuable. Just the process alone, for me, can be enlightening because they’re asking you questions that you haven’t necessarily thought about and I find it to be really healthy.”

Actual application answer
Please tell us why your team is exceptional and should win the Award for Excellence in Talent Acquisition.

Our Team continually strives for success every day. We constantly hold our hands up high when business challenges arise. Our Team enjoys the opportunity to prove ourselves as a valued business partner through our dedication to teamwork, innovation, delivered results and leveraging resources. It is clear that in 2009 our Talent and Acquisition team played an integral role in helping AlliedBarton achieve business results. Our processes and innovations have received national recognition through awards and accolades in such industry publications as HR Executive Magazine’s “Best HR Ideas for 2009” for our work with the Talent Lifecycle Value.

Our Talent team exemplifies the word teamwork. Most of our team works remotely and in remote places from the Corporate office. While this physical distance would be a challenge to most teams, our Talent group has capitalized on their situation. The Team holds regular meetings via phone and web based working sessions. They have capitalized on their physical locations by utilizing the resources they have available to them in their respective regions. This has helped the group source from a more diverse setting based on local relationships and market knowledge. Having members in different areas of the country has helped us to provide valuable insight to hiring managers who may be looking in unfamiliar areas. We are able to custom tailor searches based on local economic conditions and labor markets.

Our business partners have also been excited to see the new innovations that we have brought the sourcing function. Over the past several years we have been able to expose our Leaders to new developing technologies and processes that help provide them with results. Innovations to sourcing and selection have helped us solidify our place as a business partner who understands their needs and requirements when sourcing employees. We work with the hiring manager to develop the appropriate sourcing strategy using social networking sites, internet job boards and other new and exciting erecruiting tactics.

When we identify and take ownership of a challenge our Team has delivered results. The most recent instance as noted above with the new Business Development Manager (BDM) sourcing and selection process has delivered profound results and our Leaders have taken notice. Preliminary analysis has shown that our influence on the process has contributed directly to business results. By working with our Leaders to develop and execute the right hiring strategy we have been able to bring top talent to our organization. These new hires have proven to be valuable assets in their short tenure by demonstrating a marked increase in activities relating to proposals and bookings leading to a positive contribution to the bottom line.

Resources are a constant challenge for our Team. Proportionally, the Corporate Talent team is quite small considering the needs of those we service. We have become adept at leveraging our resources in order to meet the business needs. In many cases we train employees in other disciplines in order to increase our reach. For instance, we train and employ local District office staff in the interview process in order to accommodate interview panel structure.

As noted above we have proven to be a successful business partner that can bring results to the Organization. We continue to develop and refine our skills in order to extract the most out of our people. Challenges such as those noted above have been not only met but exceeded by our group of hard working teammates. Each member has a personal sense of responsibility toward contributing to the success of the business. It’s for these reasons stated above that we feel the Talent team is deserving of this year’s HR Department of the Year.

© 2010, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.

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NFI:Winner of the 2009 Department of the Year Award for Companies with 20-49 HR Department Employees

HR Best Practices: Profiles of winners of Human Resources Department of the Year Awards

NFI offers a variety of services to help businesses manage, grow and succeed in today’s logistics marketplace. It is a fully integrated supply chain solutions provider offering logistics, distribution, transportation, intermodal, and real estate services across the U.S. Headquartered in Vineland, NJ, the company owns nearly 60 trucking and maintenance facilities nationwide and globally. Privately held by one family since its inception in 1932, NFI employs over 6,000 individuals, operates over 15 million square feet of contract and public warehouse and distribution space, and generates $800 million in revenue annually. NFI is a partner in the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, which is dedicated to increasing energy efficiency and reducing the impact of the freight industry upon the environment.

NFI is the 2009 Department of the Year Award winner for companies with 20-49 HR department employees. Scott Rosen met with Nancy Stefanowicz, Senior Vice President of Human Resources of NFI Industries, to discuss winning the award.

Stefanowicz, a 15-year veteran of human resources and employee of NFI for four years, heard about the HR Department of the Year Awards in 2008. She immediately thought, “What would an HR Department of the Year look like?” and shared that question with her team.

At the time, they had just started documenting the great progress they had made over three years of work. Since they would not be ready to showcase their success for the 2008 deadline, she decided her team would strive towards the Award in 2009.

“So I have this in the back of my mind thinking, of course, this is a strategic objective that HR is going to take on,” she said. “I thought ‘I wonder if this will help us to lay the foundation to be able to move us in that direction. It will be a good starting point for us.’ We also felt, when we started jotting down the kind of things we felt like we accomplished this year, we’ve really done a lot this year.”

She assigned the task of completing the application to the training and technology person at first. After they started the process, the HR generalists took a look. In the end, everyone in HR had a chance to participate in the process to make it a whole team effort.

“The process did so much more than I expected it to. We figured we were going to put an application in and we’re going to see what happens, but it got the team excited about what we accomplished. So, the motivation and the passion that the team started to develop and even those new departments that were pulled in, benefits and driver recruiting, they were like, ‘What is this? I’ve been around here for 20 years. We’ve never done anything like this.’ I said ‘Just participate. Let’s see what comes out of it’ and they did.”

As the next part of the application process, NFI was evaluated by seasoned HR Awards judges Barbara Davidson and Carol Krause. Davidson and Krause asked to meet with members of the executive team and the HR team. Stefanowicz was able to schedule five members of the executive team and the entire HR team to meet with the judges.

“[The judges] were able to do a great job of seeing what the executives said and then asking for specific HR examples of how that married up. So they were able to see that the business wasn’t just speaking to try to get us an award, it was actually validated by the information that the HR Director said.”

Believe it or not, they didn’t plan or practice their presentation; nor did they create a formal presentation. They walked through their application section by section. Davidson and Krause were helpful to Stefanowicz and her team, because they were very interested in knowing what makes NFI qualified to speak to apply and to win.

“It was an uplifting experience for the team, so we actually celebrated that night with the executives and the HR team. We went out because I said ‘Even if we don’t win, we’ve gotten so much out of this and it’s done so much for the business to buy in.'”

“[The judges] said ‘You guys did a great job. We can’t give you any insight but you need to know your competition was brutal this year.’ Everybody did a great job.”

Early on in her career with NFI, Stefanowicz convinced Sid Brown, CEO of NFI, the organization needed to create a mission and vision and values statements. Brown reluctantly agreed to let Stefanowicz secure a consultant to help them design their mission, vision and values. For the first time ever, they brought all of the executives together for a three-day session to discuss the company’s future.

“There was no blueprint to making our decisions. There was nothing that was guiding our behaviors,” she continued, “No values. No roadmap.”

Once the mission, vision and values were created they started to create a five-year business plan, where Stefanowicz was the keeper of the plan documents. The executives saw that Stefanowicz could speak their language and could help figure out acquisitions and people development. HR started getting invited to decision making meetings because they gained credibility in helping make business decisions.

Stefanowicz reiterated a lesson she had learned a long time back, “Unless the business peculates the idea, or at least thinks it’s their idea, it’s never going to be successful. So although it needs to come from the top, if you don’t get the buy in at the business and make those two come together, HR is never going to be a partner.”

An executive paired up with HR for every single meeting to promote the mission to the employees. They traveled around the country to reach almost 5,000 people with their value statement. They also hired a consultant to develop training for the values rollout.

“When we started to bring people in the room, we did something called Stop, Start and Continue. We said, ‘Alright you know what? You’ve been here for fifteen years. You’re not believing what I’m telling you, but what do we need to stop immediately? What do we need to start? What do we need to continue?’ Once we started, we ended up seeing that we had the buy in for the cultural change, because we had to change the culture here so badly, from that old trucking mentality to a sophisticated organization that can now take care of any of your transportation warehousing or logistic needs.”

NFI developed and implemented a fully integrated Human Capital Management System (HCMS) and new HR Service Delivery Model designed internally. They created a service center as the single point of contact for HR, Payroll and Benefits information. The new headcount was fully funded by headcount savings in Payroll and Benefits. To roll out the new HCMS, they created, designed and developed a communication plan to transmit all communication messages and training materials from the system. The CEO was behind them in launching the new system.

“Sid sent the letter out to everybody saying ‘This is coming. This is awesome. It’s mandatory, you have to come to this training, and we’re going to be kicking off for the next three months traveling the country kicking off this new performance management system that’s tied to our competencies and salary grades. It’s really great stuff.'”

NFI also expanded its Driver Recruiting Initiative by creating a new on-line Recruitment System and reevaluating only advertising in newspapers, transitioning them from all paper applications to On-Line Applications. The change provided a substantial cost reduction in both cost per hire and advertising buy. After 10 months of the implementation of the on-line Recruitment System, NFI received over 49,000 applications for non-Driver positions, resulting in over 400 hires. Over the past twelve months, through organic growth and acquisition, they have hired over a total of 1400 employees (Drivers and non-Drivers).

“We have laid all of the foundation from an HR standpoint to keep up with the business growth. So again, enabling technology with our applicant tracking and our recruiting system and putting a recruitment department in place because we’re growing like mad. We’re going to grow by at least 1,000 employees this year again. We’re just growing exponentially and that’s twenty percent. So just putting the systems in place that can handle that. We are taking training to a new level this year so for the first time. We’re instituting both computer based training and instructor based training for executives to warehouse employees. It is going to be a very big initiative this year. We’re increasing the functionality that we have from our HCMS system so we’re in the process right now of implementing.”

The changes Stefanowicz and her team have made really had an impact on the bottom line of the company as a whole. They  cut out 1.2 million dollars in pure spend with the adoption of the HCMS. Their cost of an ad per hire went from $1600 for a driver to $285.

“I mean it’s just unbelievable and that’s just by putting in a process and a system and being smarter and get the right people in the jobs.” She continued, “This year we’re going to be able to measure through productivity, training, and turnover, with absolute potential to bring more money to the bottom line.”

Nancy brought her team to the Awards ceremony, as well as Brown. “I just wanted Sid to even be exposed to the profession because he’s never been to an HR function before, and our president, Joe Roeder, who runs two of our biggest divisions was also there. He’s a big HR fan anyway. I wanted the team to be exposed to both Sid and a process like this so even if we didn’t win it would have been time well spent.”

Nancy’s team told her to have notes prepared for the awards ceremony, but she didn’t think she needed to. “They were like ‘If you win, you are not going to embarrass us, you’re going to go up there and do a good job.'” Since they kidded her all week, she did prepare a few notes which she happened to forget when NFI was called as the winner.

Brown was very proud of the team, which made the team even more pleased with their accomplishment. The day after the ceremony, he sent a note out to the entire organization telling them that they won. Their marketing department distributed press releases and secured a couple stories about their win.

“This is a win for NFI as well. Yes, HR was recognized here but it’s only because, as I said in my speech, we were enabled or given the keys to the ‘truck’ by the CEO and the presidents , so I really feel that this sets NFI up for continued success and not just NFI HR.”

The award is currently at the front of the human resources office, but eventually they will be getting a trophy case.

“It’s a great opportunity. I’m so appreciative to even have had it. I kind of felt like the newbie in there. Everyone else knew each other and I’m like who am I to come in and do this?”

Actual application answer
Please tell us why your department is exceptional and should win the Human Resources Department of the Year Award.
Until about 3 years ago (NFI is 76 years old), the HR department was viewed as a traditional, administrative department (hire and fire). A new SVP of HR was hired with a mission to transform the HR function to be a strategic part of the business as well as be more efficient in a growing and changing organization. (and it’s nice to have a CEO that is willing to support the change!). We believe our department is exceptional due to our many accomplishments and positive impact on the business and desired cultural change despite our limited resources (people: 30 HR for 5400 employees and funding) we have made during the past year.

Our team is willing to take risks to ensure we have the right solutions for our clients. We are creative and innovative.
We desire to be world-class and strive to be better everyday.
We have great relationships with our clients and vendors. We are customer (internal and external) focused.
We have made a positive impact on our company culture and community
We provide sound counsel. We have strong Generalists and Specialists.
We care.
We are a solid team. Everyone is willing to help one another all the time.
© 2010, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.

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Ocean Spray: 2009 Winner of the Award for Excellence in Leadership

HR Best Practices: Profiles of winners of Human Resources Department of the Year Awards

Ocean Spray was started nearly 80 years ago by three farmers from Massachusetts and New Jersey. They are an agricultural cooperative–owned by a large group of over 600 cranberry growers throughout North America and 50 Florida grapefruit growers. Ocean Spray is the leading producer of canned and bottled juice drinks in North America, and has been since 1981.

They posted fiscal 2008 gross sales of roughly $1.9 billion; and have more than 2,000 employees worldwide. There are eight primary manufacturing facilities across the United States–four are beverage facilities and four are food and ingredient facilities.

The largest and oldest facility, the plant in Bordentown, NJ takes the concentrated juice from the food and ingredients facilities in Massachusetts and Wisconsin; blends that juice with other ingredients; and packages the product into the products you see on the shelves at your local grocer. The Bordentown facility packages roughly one third of the 100 million cases of juice products Ocean Spray produces in a year. The Bordentown plant has 253 employees, and is the winners of the 2009 HR Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Scott Rosen met with members of the Human Resources staff of Ocean Spray in December 2009 to talk about winning the Award.

“We were pleasantly surprised that we were even nominated for the award, not sure how it happened,” said Tim Haggerty, Ocean Spray’s Plant Manager for five years and employee for eight years.

Ocean Spray received an email from the HR Department of the Year Awards committee telling them that someone nominated the company for an award. To this day, they do not know who nominated them, but they would certainly like to know. Teri Thomas, HR Manager, and Neal France, HR Generalist, tried to pin it down, but since they had just spent 12 months giving presentations on leadership training, it could be one of numerous people.

“There are a lot of seeds that were planted out there as far as what we’re doing here,” said Thomas, who’s been with Ocean Spray for four years and a human resource professional for 24 years. “A lot of people would come up and give us feedback and say, ‘Hey, there’s some really neat stuff that you are all doing’ and that ‘I haven’t heard any other organization doing those sorts of things.'”

Ocean Spray is a conservative company that is not much of a limelight seeker, but Thomas and her team decided that this was an opportunity that they could not pass up. She along with France and Kelly Collins, HR Administrator for two years, got together to discuss the nomination and next steps. They researched more about the Awards and saw that they could apply for the Excellence Award in Leadership–right up their alley.

“We’re just really excited about the award and to talk about this program that we have, as far as our leadership program,” said France, who has been with Ocean Spray for over three years. “We thought that most of the work, the body of the work that we were doing, was leadership and that was our focus.”

“I think the success story here is about the cultural change,” said Thomas. “It was not a very good environment at all, at any level. No turnover really to speak of because the employees loved it here. And really not be held accountable.”

Haggerty notes that he thinks the turnaround for the Bordentown plant happened when they introduced a performance evaluation system. He asked his employees when they had last received a performance evaluation. Their answers astounded him. They had never had one, and some of the employees had been there 30 years. He asked them how they know they were doing their job right. No one had told them they weren’t and that was suitable to them.

In response, he told employees, “We can understand and appreciate your concerns. We ask that you give us a little chance. Give us time to start turning it around.”

He realized the employees needed accountability and empowerment. Thus began the plans for a very robust employee engagement plan that started one-on-one meetings with every person in the facility. Haggerty conducted 311 of these one-on-ones, and to date that number is closer to 500. He also recruited the supervisors and managers to conduct one-on-ones, so everyone had a voice. The sessions became known as EPM, employee participation meetings, bringing together a cross section of employees from the entire facility to talk about policies and procedures.

“The genesis of a lot of this came out of those one-on-ones,” Haggerty explained. “The employees clearly said ‘We desperately need leadership in the organization. We want you to hold people and hold us accountable.’ Well, let’s make sure we all understand what leadership means and what accountability means.” He continued, “Why would I really bust my backside, you know, if Joe Bag-of-Doughnuts working right next to me isn’t doing anything, and is getting paid the same amount of money. Where’s our incentive, right?”

Along with gaining trust from their employees, they needed to explain accountability and disciple so everyone understood the expectations. The Performance Impact Workplace (PIW) program grew from this need. PIW is Ocean Spray’s review process which includes a journal of performance. Where before the focus was on discipline only, they trained supervisors to have an even hand approach and log good and bad events. This helped give a fair an accurate assessment at review time.

The team was concerned that long-time employees of the company with take issue with the new policies, but it was quite the opposite. They welcomed the change and it enhanced their performance and increased their productivity.

“They were also extremely supportive of the change which also made a huge difference because they’ve been here so long that they had such influence over some of the other employees,” Collins said. “It was easier to transition, if you had their support.”

They asked the employees to tell them if there is an issue or when they make a mistake, instead of hiding it. Thomas tells of an employee who accidentally ran a forklift into a steam pipe and recognized that it could cost the company money since he knocked a line down. He called security and told them what happened, and had them call the fire and police departments. He called the safety manager, the plant manager and the maintenance manager to report the issue. He took a taxi to the hospital to take a drug test; and, upon receiving negative results [meaning no drugs or alcohol], took a taxi back to work to prepare a report and complete his shift. He was recognized by the plant leadership for doing the right thing and being accountable.

“It’s not about why didn’t he get a write-up,” France said. “You only get write-ups to change a behavior. If you have the correct behavior, why would you get a write up? It’s silly. You’re trying to drive the behaviors. We want an environment where there is no discipline because we all do the right thing. ‘I did this. I made a mistake. And, I fixed it.’ So that’s the type of environment we’re creating.”
Ocean Spray Employees are reviewed and also recognized for their achievements publically. They created an Eagle Award which is handed out both quarterly and annually so positive actions are visibly acknowledged. They also trained supervisors in informal recognition. Ocean Spray created a High 5 Awards program, which focuses on peer-to-peer recognition; and Spot Awards, where a manager can stop and tell an employee that they did an exceptional job on a particular project or issue.

“I think we do a very good job of recognizing our employees and advertising and letting them know, ‘Hey, we do see what you’re doing out there and we are recognizing that you’re doing a great job,'” said France.

“And we also publish all of that information,” Collins added. “We do a quarterly newsletter so this way all that information is also published so that everybody can also see who got what for the quarter.”

“We actually have a recognition wall over on the other side on our DC side where we have pictures,” France pointed out. “Ithink that’s really important part of the HR programs.”

Once they had empowered their employees to “do the right thing”, they needed to make sure their leaders were effectively managing their staff. When Haggerty started in Bordentown, he brought with him a Leader-In-Development [LID] program that was not widely accepted or appreciated. Haggerty and Thomas put their heads together and realized that this program needed to be revamped. Through the efforts of both Thomas and France, the ‘new and improved’ LID was launched just about 2 years ago. They felt that the issue was in the way it was being facilitated, so they stopped it to take the time to find the right people to run the program.

With a new team in place in May 2008, Thomas and her team presented a new Leadership in Development (LID) program for the hourly work force. The program originally started with 17 employees that held the title of “Lead” for their respective departments. The program was such a success that non-titled employees requested to participate in the training. The program quickly grew to 51 hourly employees.

“People heard about it from another hourly employee or supervisor and asked if they can join and we said anybody can join, you don’t have to be a formal lead, everybody is a leader,” Thomas continued.

The first few training sessions consisted of personality testing. They added to the program by bringing in guest speakers, such as professional performance coaches. In August of 2008, the program embarked on a one year in-depth study of John C. Maxwell’s, 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, culminating with a graduation in September 2009.

The curriculum for the one-year program was prepared and taught by another new management program, the Good to Great (G2G) council. The G2G council, based on Jim Collin’s best seller, is headed by Haggerty and comprised of managers, supervisors, leads and hourly employees. They meet weekly to discuss chapters of a selected leadership books. They also serve as an advisory council for Haggerty.

The combination of the LID, G2G and the existing front line supervisors DDI (Development Dimensions International) training programs culminated in one leadership forum. With momentum in leadership development gaining, Ocean Spray decided to create a Leadership Boot Camp in April 2009.

Twenty-four employees went off-site for two 12-hour days and one 6-hour day for leadership discussions, physical training sessions, drill and ceremony practice, speech preparation and nutrition consultation. The camp more than met their expectations as better relationships were forged; appreciation grew for all levels of organization; healthier life styles emerged; and confidence improved through communication.

With such positive results, they held another Boot Camp in June 2009 with 29 employees, and there are two more scheduled for 2010.

“We started to develop a ground swell of trust,” Haggerty explained. “Do you have trust in the leadership within the facility? From that, and with all the work that these folks have done as far as the training and development of the employees, and the empowerment of the employees, is a huge piece. It’s no longer, ‘Oh, gee. This is a management decision.’ No. This is what we all think is in the best interest of the organization going forward.”

“There’s a real big part of business that managers and supervisors miss and it’s your hourly nonexempt workforce,” added Thomas. “We have far more of them than we have managers and supervisors, yet we make all those great business decisions because we’re so smart. If you really want to get the work done and at a high quality, high production, and engagement, tap into your resources. They’re right there and as soon as you make them feel like you appreciate them, you trust them. We need them more than they need us.”

“We interview a lot for leadership,” Collins said. “We get your technical skill. That’s the price of admission. You’re an engineer or you’re an accountant, or you’re a…whatever you are. You’ve got to have that. And people need to like you, it’s important.”

Collins added, “You’re either a team player or you’re not and this was a perfect opportunity to show that not only were we talking the talk but we were now walking the walk and we truly were one team, one goal, one vision.”

“I think [our story] really ties into our vision for the HR Department.” France said. “Basically, we’re strategic partners with the organization. Making that a part of the business plan. The people side, so that’s how we’re able to do some of the things we’re doing. We have the leadership that empowers us to do these things.”

Due to a misunderstanding of whether their application was accepted for nomination, Ocean Spray’s HR team did not attend the awards ceremony. In the days leading up to the event, the event management team attempted to contact the team, but was unable to make a connection. The event’s Master of Ceremonies, Bill Henley–NBC 10’s respected meteorologist and “10! Show” co-host–accepted the award on their behalf.

Thomas was contacted the next day to let the team know that they had won the Award for Excellence in Leadership. The following week, the actual award was hand-delivered to the team.

“Knowing what we know now, definitely we would have been there with bells on,” Haggerty said. “We would have had our corporate communication people in the loop with it as well.”

Even though they were not there for the event, they are proud that their excellent work was in the spotlight that evening and they will always be listed and celebrated as the winner of the 2009 Award for Excellence in Leadership.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the three of these individuals,” commended Haggerty. “I see the work that they do every day and sometimes we really have to force ourselves to take a time out, step back and go ‘Wow’. That’s a lot of work that you did on that. We’ve shared it across the entire company. The folks here received a number of kudos from everybody up and down the entire chain of command. So there have been some really neat things. We’ve got a great trophy that we’re going to add to the room.”

Actual application answer
Please tell us why your team is exceptional and should win the Award for Excellence in Leadership.
Our HR Team may be small, only three individuals, but we have made a tremendous impact on our organization. This team is much more than an administrative function; we are a strategic partner in the success of our organization. Our employee development programs have become the model and benchmark for others within our cooperative to emulate. Our organizational communication plan keeps all levels of our organization engaged and well informed. Our people care programs are exceptional, morale is high and the work force is engaged. With over 20 years experience in the HR field, this is by far the most professional, high performing and results oriented team I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Team Bordentown, as we call ourselves, is definitely deserving of the HR Award of Excellence.

© 2010, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.

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Philadelphia Gas Works: 2009 Winner of the HR Department of the Year Award for Departments with 8-9 human resources employees

HR Best Practices: Profiles of winners of Human Resources Department of the Year Awards

The Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) is the largest municipally-owned natural gas utility in the United States serving 500,000 customers in the City of Philadelphia. From its rather humble beginnings in 1836, PGW has grown into one of the nation’s leading natural gas providers with a continued focus on safety, stability and service. PGW provides a wide range of employment opportunities and a comprehensive benefits package to over 1,700 employees and over 1,900 retirees.

PGW’s Human Resources (HR) and Organizational Development (OD) Departments, which employ more than 20 professionals, report into Abby Pozefsky, Sr. VP of Administration and General Counsel. HR and OD are two separate departments, performing distinct functions; however they share common goals and objectives that support the management of PGW’s workforce as they ensure the corporation’s objectives and strategic plan. Lorraine Webb, Vice President of Organizational Development is a 25 year veteran of human resources and is responsible for talent management, performance management, diversity, recruiting and staffing, training and development and employee relations. Bill Muntzer, Vice President of Human Resources has been with PGW for nearly 28 years and is responsible for benefits, compensation, labor, medical and EAP policies.

Scott Rosen met with HR and OD staff in December of 2009 to discuss the process of becoming the 2009 Human Resources Department of the Year Award winner for departments with 8-9 employees.

“I recognized an opportunity to tell a compelling story,” said Gary Gioioso, Director of Organizational Development for PGW about deciding to apply. “I have to be honest. The reason that we applied was just to make sure that our team, knew how well we were doing. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that. A lot of the stuff we’re doing here is cutting edge and it’s easy sometimes to not be able to see that.”

Pozefsky credits Webb and Muntzer in being able to carve out new programs to meet special challenges. For example, PGW has not been able to give employees raises for the past two years because of PGW’s finances. So in response, HR and OD have introduced other benefits including a compressed work week schedule–much to the enjoyment of the employees; exercise programs so staff can get an aerobic lunchtime workout; and back to school programs, open houses and a mini-MBA program supported by Drexel University so employees can enjoy life long learning. Webb has also been instrumental in initiating programs that reward excellent employee performance.

“The things that we have are really born out of necessity. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice and we have learned to do the most we can with what we’ve got. A lot of it is out of fun and most of it is why not, nobody’s telling us no we can’t,” Webb said. “When you’re constrained in terms of giving great raises and all of the rest of that, the question is what is it that makes people stay?”

Thanks to the cutting edge initiatives in HR and OD, employees are not leaving the company. In fact, minus retirement rates, PGW’s turnover rate is around one percent.

“What strikes me about PGW is the generational stuff, because you have folks working here whose fathers and mothers have worked here, whose grandparents have worked here, whose cousins and uncles have worked here there’s a real sense of loyalty to the organization. There’s one person who said it is put bread and butter on my table and my children’s table,” said Webb.

Bill Ambrose, Director of Human Resources has been an employee of PGW since graduating high school 31 years ago. His mother and father worked for PGW and his brother and brother-in-law work at the company now.

“I have a very strong loyalty to PGW,” said Ambrose. “It’s a great place to work. I really believe it. You don’t see many people leaving here. They want to stay here. We provide excellent benefits for our employees. They’re not many companies left that provide full medical benefits to employees and their families at no cost. So that’s one of the things that, in working with the company, we’ve been able to do.”

PGW has training and career development programs at several Philadelphia area colleges including Drexel and Temple Universities. The company is also training students to be future plant workers through a specialized high school curriculum with the School District of Philadelphia’s Edward Bok Technical High School.

“We’re forward thinking with the intent of making sure that pipeline of human capital is full so that when we need folks we can go ahead and hire them,” said Webb.

What really strikes Pozefsky is how much PGW does with a small budget. It surprises her how people with plentiful resources do not do similar or grander programs for their employees that create a positive work environment.

“I think if you had a ‘making gold out of straw award’, that’s the award that we would really win because we have so many fewer resources to work with. It means that our HR/OD issues are really approached in a very different way than most folks,” she said.

Once Gioioso submitted the application, the staff met to talk about the judging process and the roles everyone would assume. This was a new audience to report their procedures and successes to. Webb and Muntzer created the presentation, but everyone was involved in meeting with the judges. It was both exciting and stressful for the staff. Gioioso viewed this as a great opportunity and the employees started to believe that they do a lot of good work and deserved the chance to showcase their achievement.

“We had lots of contributions and thoughts from all 23 folks and then we invited everyone to come to the boardroom to meet with Mark [Spool] and Ed [Dunn],” Webb said. “We thought it was important that they see the face of the Human Resources and Organizational Development Departments. We had fun. People were very proud to talk about who they were.”

Ambrose added, “I think it helps them. They don’t, I mean, you try and recognize them for the work they do, but when they are in front of someone, an outside audience, as Lorraine said, they get that pride in them, that yeah, I really do this, and then they start to understand the value of the contribution that they’re putting into the organization and how they’re helping HR and Organizational Development together to achieve something for the company. So it’s really good to see that and it’s good to see people’s faces light up.”

Pozefsky noted that she was very interested in seeing how the judges would evaluate PGW “as a municipal entity participating in a process that was largely non-municipal.” How would they fit? She was impressed that the committee was able to see through that issue and focus on their process.

“I thought [the judges] were very thoughtful and very smart,” she said. “We had two really good ones. I think it’s tough because I think you’re looking at a bunch of apples and we’re definitely a pear. Yet they were able to figure out what the commonalities were and what would be a sustainable basis for an award. I really appreciated that.”

When the presentation was over, Webb asked Gioioso how he thought the presentation was received.

He said, “I think we have a chance. Where before, it was kind of a motivational kind of thing to keep people engaged, now it got to the point where I thought, ‘We’re going to win this. We can actually do this thing.’ It was an honor to be considered but then once you get past a certain stage, you want to win.”

Not everyone in the team of 23 was able to come to the event. They were able to bring their CEO, Tom Knudsen, who has been instrumental in the success of the programming, and Philadelphia Facilities Management Corporation Board Member Gerry Davis, who is the departments’ liaison to the board. Unfortunately, Gioioso could not be there the night of the awards presentation, but he was in constant contact with his coworkers during the event.

Webb and the team were shocked when PGW was called as the winner. Webb accepted the award on the team’s behalf.

“One of the funny things that we all commented on when we got back to the office was that many of the other companies, when they…would win, they would all cheer and stand up and when our name was called,” Webb said. “All our jaws just hit the table and there wasn’t a sound. Abby says that she was surprised that we won. However, I would have been surprised if we didn’t and the reason I say that is because I do believe that the programs are first rate and in some instances cutting edge. I think we’re very innovative.”

Pozefsky chimed in, “I wasn’t doubtful that we [would win]. The issue for me wasn’t what kind of a job we had done, because I think it’s really been extraordinary, but it’s how much we’ve done with so little.”

Ambrose added, “To me, the secret sauce is the people who work here, the dedication and the commitment that they have to get things done.”

Knudsen and COO, Craig White, as well as other PGW employees, came to congratulate the team the following morning. White said that he was recounting all the things that the teams have done and it was a real indication about the contributions that they’ve made to the organization.

That same morning, the team was talking about how they could win the award again next year with a repeat. They also rehashed how they could better themselves to win the Excellence Award they were also nominated for this year. PGW’s team has tasted a win and they want more.

Gioioso ended the meeting saying, “The honor that was conferred on us by the organization and the judges was just…on the one side, it was almost mind blowing; but on the other side, I knew we had it in us all along or else I wouldn’t have [applied]. I wouldn’t have put us in a position of being embarrassed.”

Actual application answer
Please tell us why your department is exceptional and should win the Human Resources Department of the Year Award.
PGW’s Organizational Development Department is exceptional for several reasons, most notably, the expertise and dedication of the team. All involved share knowledge, skills and efforts. No job is too big or too small for all involved. Secondly, necessity is the mother of invention. The department has been forced to be truly innovative. Budgetary strictures force us to be creative and flexible. We cannot “throw money” at a problem. The philosophy is every “problem” is an opportunity for excellence. We have developed an in house performance management system; we create and implement effective in house OD interventions; we have identified and met growing workforce development issue by implementing a leadership development program as well as a comprehensive “staffing the gap” initiative. Lastly, we have aligned all our learning and development initiatives with the core competencies of the organization. We have been named an employer of choice by a nationally published diversity publication. We have established relationships with high schools and junior colleges in order to imbed into their curriculum the knowledge, skills and abilities need for hard to fill positions at PGW. We have done more with less. We have done great work. We have never flinched from the challenges presented. We are a talented, dedicated and knowledgeable team led by a very effective leader. We deserve to be considered for this prestigious award.

© 2010, The Rosen Group Newsletter. Reprinted with permission by The Rosen Group, specializing in Human Resources Solutions and HR Staffing.