COVID-19 transitioned life for everyone, with many organizations promoting changes they’ve made in the interest of public safety.
HR Director Stacey Black said the internal changes initiated through COVID-19 are not always visible.
“Our department’s efforts have been two-fold so that we’re protecting the public, but also protecting our greatest asset, our employees,” she said. “We’ve implemented social distancing guidance, provided PPE and enabled employees to work from home so that our team can be at their best in serving the Southlake community.”
For City of Southlake Talent Acquisition Partner Rebecca Hart, work pivoted briefly in March 2020 from recruiting candidates and hiring to COVID-19 expert.
“Taking COVID-19 calls parallels what I do in recruiting beautifully,” she said. “I’m talking with employees, listening, empathizing and documenting. I’ve really enjoyed the transition.”
Now that recruiting has picked back up, Hart finds herself still discussing COVID-19 through the lens of how the City is addressing the pandemic for candidates and employees. Recruiting and hiring has turned virtual with video interviews by optimizing technology the City already utilized. Hiring managers have entrusted her to narrow down candidates through phone and virtual interviews to limit in-person interactions.
Hart compared working for the City of Southlake to being on the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. Employees don’t want to lag behind, they want to step their game up to Michael Jordan’s level.
Ever since her first day on the job, Hart feels a sense of pride working for the City and like she has always been part of the team.
“We’re a team of high-quality employees. Everyone wants to rise to the occasion and be the best they can possibly be,” she said. “It’s inspiring.”
One of the things the City excels at, according to Hart, is playing to each employee’s strengths and putting them in positions for success. That’s where her coworker Dylan Welch has truly shined.
Welch has taken on the project of going digital with HR forms.
“Working with paper forms, we’re printing, signing and scanning into the system with each and every form,” he said. “My goal is to create evergreen forms so that employees can easily access the information they need and turn them in without extra, unnecessary steps.”
During open enrollment each year, Welch estimated it takes the team six hours to stuff envelopes with 13,000 sheets of paper with benefits information, in addition to the countless hours spent preparing and printing the information and the data entry once the forms are submitted. His goal for this year is to eliminate paper open enrollment forms for 2020, along with all of the time associated with paper, saving weeks spent on this project alone.
Form creation entails more than just scanning previous paper forms. Digital forms are created from scratch, analyzing the necessary information for the form and redesigning when needed. Welch also has the tedious task of pre-populating regularly used information like an employee’s name, and then tests the form so any issues can be fixed.
“What’s been great about this project and working at Southlake is that there’s very little direction, and that’s by design,” Welch said. “I have the freedom to create something great for our employees and have been entrusted to do my job to the best of my ability. It’s empowering to take on an enormous project like this and really own it.”
The City of Southlake prides itself on the attitude and behavior of its employees to make The Southlake Way a mindset, culture and service strategy.
Interested in joining an organization dedicated to Integrity, Innovation, Accountability, Excellence and Teamwork? Find our open positions here.
A great team defines organizational values and helps others understand the goals and mission. The City of Southlake works diligently to implement the City’s goals and objectives with a commitment to integrity, innovation, accountability, commitment to excellence and teamwork!
So how does the City of Southlake approach the development of a great team to drive those values? Through proper training and recruitment, of course! The City wants their employees to make an impact. The culture is values-driven and the team is committed and dedicated to quality work and helping customers.
The City recruits top talent and encourages the current workforce to continue to develop their skill set.
“The heart of any successful organization is the staff,” Director of Human Resources Stacey Black said. “We want our employees to connect to the public and reinforce our values. A well-trained team will help us get there.”
The quality of service provided by the City to the customer depends upon the quality of the workforce; a well trained staff produces a more efficient workforce and improves customer satisfaction.
“The City’s goal is to “Serve Our Customers” and of course a team effort will go a long way,” said Black. “When you have a well-trained workforce of innovative thinkers with a commitment to excellence, it helps us solve problems efficiently and proactively.”
The City works diligently to implement new processes to help achieve these goals and has received notoriety for it.
Earlier this year, the City received a Laserfiche Run Smarter Award for restructuring the hiring process for police. By implementing the use of this software, the City reduced the testing notification wait time from 2-3 weeks to one day, saved 6.25 hours of staff time per testing cycle on administrative tasks and saved a total of $7,000 a year.
“The City was chosen based on creativity, operational improvements, use of Laserfiche software and resources and inspirational potential for other Laserfiche clients,” said Black. “We invite the use of any technology that may help us better serve our customers while making processes more efficient.”
The City also received the Tree City USA Award by the Arbor Day Foundation which also recertified the City as a designated 2018 Tree City USA community.
In order to receive such an honor the City had to meet the core standards of sound urban forestry management, which includes maintaining a tree board or department, establishing a tree ordinance and spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry in addition to celebrating Arbor Day.
“The City’s Planning and Development Department goes above and beyond to ensure that the City manages urban forestry and upholds sustainable tree management. The City of Southlake has taken this award home 22 years in row and it’s all thanks to our dedicated employees,” Black said.
The City also enhances the sense of community by providing exceptional customer service and citizen engagement opportunities. This was the first year for the City to receive the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Silver Anvil Award for the most effective campaign $5,000 or less, in government.
“Southlake Department of Public Safety has an excellent way of using social media as a tool of community engagement with citizens. Their Facebook page is inviting, conversational and entertaining,” Black said. “The PRSA Sliver Anvil Award was a reminder that we are moving in the right direction and have the right people in place.”
The recognition the City has received is proof that hiring high-quality employees is leading the City to success.
“The quality of service provided by the City to the people of Southlake depends upon the quality of the City’s workforce. The City advocates for a highly-trained staff and promotes delivery of excellent customer service. In turn, this has created a dedicated culture to serve our community and also enhances service delivery and drives production,” Black said.
It’s easy to agree that achieving great things for the community is essential for an organization. But what approach should leaders take to make it happen? HR Director Stacey Black tackled this question almost a decade ago, ultimately leading Southlake to implement Gallup’s Q12 Employee Engagement program. The engagement of Southlake’s workforce and business outcomes have been improving steadily since.
In fact, Southlake’s current engagement scores rank the organization in the top 25% of organizations worldwide according to Gallup, and the City continues to make strides toward creating a work environment that enhances workers’ ability to serve the community.
“We were looking to strengthen our workplace,” said Shana Yelverton, City Manager. “It’s important that employees have what they need to perform at the high level that is expected, and Gallup’s model has proven to be an invaluable tool for us. Stacey’s leadership in this program has been outstanding.”
Since 2013, the City has utilized the Gallup Q12 employee engagement survey to assess engagement and guide efforts to make Southlake a great place to work. Using ‘State of the Team’ meetings to understand the thoughts behind the survey numbers, action planning, implementation and evaluation, engagement initiatives have enhanced employee wellbeing, workplace experience, and overall performance.
“We chose this model because it’s a scientifically validated 12-item survey with proven links to performance outcomes,” explains Black. “Gallup administers this survey around the world to private, public, and non-profit organizations. Since the question wording was finalized in 1998, the survey has been administered to more than 30 million employees.”
Southlake’s numbers are impressive. In 2013, the City’s results placed Southlake in the 38th percentile of Gallup’s database of organizations. In 2015, the score improved placement to the 69th percentile. In 2017, Southlake moved to the 79th percentile.
The percentage of engaged employees has increased by 36% since 2013 and is significantly higher than the number of State employees and other local government workers in Texas.
“The success of improving our environment has resulted in great results, with double-digit improvements in key areas such as lost-time injuries, absenteeism, promotions, and technical performance,” said Yelverton. “Beyond the numbers, you can also see a difference in the people, in their outlook, and their work.”
A series of changes identified through the Q12 process have contributed to the City’s increased engagement. Improvements have been made to workspaces: equipment updates and process improvements to help employees work more effectively with less frustration. Departments work to build team relationships. Supervisors are trained to provide feedback and recognition for quality work. Leaders have been intentional in changing the culture, promoting positive relationships, celebrating strengths, and encouraging growth.
Black continues to look for ways to boost engagement and the workplace environment.
She recently formed a workgroup called “Making Better Best.” Their purpose is to identify initiatives to continuously improve the workplace experience. Using Q12 Survey results, turnover trends, exit interview data, workforce demographics, and Gallup research, volunteer employees who serve on the MBB team recommend then lead the implementation of these ideas.
“The work world is changing, and many traditional practices are no longer as effective as they once were. Fortunately, we have Stacey Black to help us evolve so that we continue to be an employer of choice in the future,” said Yelverton.
Black sums up program aspirations in this way. “We want to improve the workplace by focusing on engagement – creating a workplace where people come to work knowing what is expected of them, feeling connected, and working in an environment where they want to be. Focusing on engagement becomes a strategy for a great workplace, high-performance management, and better business outcomes.”