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‘Raising the Bar’ – Employees take the spotlight

The Recruitment, Retention and Training (RR&T) Committee at Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara relies on the collective energies, creativity and enthusiasm of a cross-section of seasoned and new employees, including members from both the union and non-union, to develop programs enhancing the efforts of the human resource department. Members of the committee have also taken a greater role in assisting with the interview process of prospective employees, staffing the agency booth at recruitment fairs and helping to redefine and promote a values-based culture at the agency. This open exchange of ideas and strategic planning for new initiatives has proved to be successful.

Over the last several years a concerted effort has focused on retaining valued employees, especially those in direct care. While the agency already offers some of the most affordable and comprehensive benefits plans in health, dental and cancer insurance; long-term disability and retirement accounts, the committee wanted to create that something “extra” to acknowledge the efforts of the more than 500 employees. The first monthly program recognized the hire date of an employee, noted their years of service in the internal employee newsletter and the executive director sent a thank you card with a gift card to a local coffee shop. Currently, birthday wishes are sent out on a monthly basis.

The most recent program, “Raising the Bar,” recognizes employees on a rotating basis for exemplifying one of the agency values – pride, leadership, teamwork or respect. All employees are now welcome to nominate a co-worker “caught” living the value in their interactions with program participants, fellow employees and/or the community. Supervisors are encouraged to present the certificates to all those nominated during staff meetings so that employees will be motivated to “raise the bar” on their own actions and attitudes. One outcome of the campaign is seeing the increased amount of managers and supervisors who are taking the time to communicate the characteristics of the values to their employees and are making an effort to say “thanks” and show their appreciation for a job well done.