Annual Signature Event – the Centennial Under the Stars Laser Light Show – which was named Best Annual Event in Colorado Community Media’s Reader’s Choice Awards!
Are your employees enthusiastic and committed to their work? Do they contribute to your organization in a positive manner? Do they generate innovative results? The City of Centennial’s do.
Centennial is the 10th largest city in Colorado and a suburb of Denver. It hosts a population of 107,201 that is supported by an extremely lean city staff of 65 employees. The city itself follows a contract model of municipal government, where other public and private organizations provide many services including law enforcement and public works.
Staff from across departments volunteer their time to put together Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches for Mile High United Way.
Because of the small staff size, City of Centennial staff members are versatile, team-oriented, and truly dedicated to the city and the businesses and residents they serve. But in 2014, due to natural attrition and a very hot job market, employees were being lured away at an alarming rate. It was clear that a new approach was needed in order to retain and inspire the city’s workforce.
Paula Gibson, Director, Human Resources
To start, Human Resources Director Paula Gibson implemented a strengths-based program to help employees identify innate talents with the greatest potential to support employees’ growth and success. Each member of the city’s staff takes the Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0 survey, which helps them find their greatest strengths and skills. This program enabled conversations about how people process information, how they relate to one another, and how they can become more productive as a work team.
Paula Gibson also introduced the organization to Gallup’s Q12® survey to measure employee engagement. This a simple, 12-question survey asks employees if their basic and individual needs are being met. Additional questions measure short and long-term team potential.
Gibson said, “Gallup defines engaged employees as those that believe their basic workplace needs are met and that they have a chance to contribute to their company, experience a sense of belonging, and enjoy opportunities to learn and grow.”
The Planning Group works together to collect resident input for the new Centennial NEXT Comprehensive Plan.
Using these tools, the City of Centennial was able to reduce employee turnover from 42 percent in 2014 to 1.6 percent in 2015, and engagement increased to 73 percent from 55 percent. In 2016, the City’s Engagement Index increased again to 86 percent.
City Manager John Danielson said, “Because we have an engaged culture we are able to do things that others cities only dream of, such as driving performance through contract partnerships. Our employees and contractors are constantly challenged to come up with innovative and efficient ways of delivering value to our customers.”
The City then used this success to tie into their performance review process. Reviews now reflect how employees use their talents in the successful achievement of their goals year over year and call out additional opportunities for them to continue to build their talents into strengths by gaining additional skills and knowledge.
Gallup also provides management tools to help guide conversations about understanding and appreciating strengths, building engagement and collaboration, and driving performance. Two of the city’s executive staff, Human Resources Director Paula Gibson and Deputy City Manager Elisha Thomas, are Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches and meet with individuals and teams on a regular basis to reinforce the city’s strengths-based culture. These meetings are focused on strengths and helping employees to better merge their own talents in with the team environment that the city strives to achieve. Approximately 50 percent of staff have taken the opportunity to meet with one of these coaches in a one-on-one setting.
City staff, contractors, and Council join to cheer on the Denver Broncos at a Superbowl party!
Gibson said, “The most gratifying moment in the coaching process comes when employees sit back and I see the lightbulb come on and know that they truly get it. They understand how what comes naturally to them is a great gift to themselves and to the organization.”
Following the implementation of the Gallup resources and the strengths-based culture, the leaders within the city saw adoption of the initiative at all levels of the organization. Staff members started using the strengths language in conversations with one another, and Gibson reported seeing less conflict at work, replaced by conversations around talents to overcome obstacles. Managers began leading through strengths and action planning to help truly ingrain strengths and engagement into the culture of the City of Centennial.
Root beer floats for the Finance department as they do team building exercises at the Eagle Street location.
Gibson said, “The city also introduced a number of benefits enhancements such as flexible work schedules, a fitness reimbursement, and increased retirement plan contributions, that have helped create a happier workforce.”
Another benefit that the city provides is the creation and ongoing support for the Centennial Wellness Committee, which has adopted the five principals of Wellbeing, including:
Purpose: Liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve goals
Social: Having supportive relationships and love in your life
Financial: Managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done easily
Community: Liking where you live, feeling safe, and having pride in your community
(Source: Gallup’s Tom Rath and Jim Harter definition of Wellbeing)
The focus of the Wellness Committee is to improve employee satisfaction and engagement by supporting the five principals of Wellbeing in everyday life.
Health Links Colorado, a nonprofit initiative of health and safety experts from the Colorado School of Public Health, recently recognized the City of Centennial for its outstanding workplace wellness program. Health Links featured the city as its first healthy business success story of 2016. You can read the full interview here.
A collaboration of staff members from 6 different departmental groups to be the very best kickball team ever!
Centennial was also awarded the American Heart Association’s Gold Fit Friendly Worksite Award. This award was a reflection of the city’s commitment to the wellbeing of its employees and culture of wellness within the workplace. Currently, only five municipalities in Colorado and 159 municipalities in the U.S. have received this award.
It isn’t easy to build an engaged workforce from the ground-up, but as the City of Centennial has learned, with the right tools and an inspired workforce, great outcomes are possible. The city strives to foster a culture that empowers and fulfills its employees by providing meaningful and engaging opportunities that bring out the best in each individual member of the team.
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City staff members join together to show support for the Superbowl-bound Denver Broncos.