Engaging employees in action planning pays off big


Engaging employees to address team needs often results in more meaningful solutions.

It’s important for employees to have a strong work-life balance. Doing so can reduce stress and significantly decrease other health risks in a person’s life. It also allows employees to get more satisfaction out of doing their job, making the work more meaningful and effective.

With this in mind, one section in the Department of Executive Services decided to use the results from the 2015 Employee Survey as a turning point to tackle an ongoing issue –  telecommuting. Carmel Call, the Director of the Business Resource Center (BRC), explains that the topic had previously come up multiple times, but had not been addressed in a thorough, more direct manner.

“We had ad-hoc telecommuting in place, but the feedback we received was staff felt nervous about asking for it,” she said. “There was apprehension and tension around the subject.”

After a series of briefing sessions with the full BRC team, staff decided to make telecommuting a reality. Using the resources available to supervisors and managers, an advisory team was organized that would devise an action plan to suit everyone. Building in check points throughout the plan allowed the advisory team to take items back to their teams for feedback and input. Eventually, this became a three month pilot to test policies and procedures developed for telecommuting.

“To make it successful we encouraged communication and inclusion,” said Carmel. “All employees were engaged in providing feedback.”

“We called it our Fair and Equitable Telecommuting Pilot.”

With the title featuring the terms “fair and equitable,” staff felt more confident this pilot would be successful, and would take into account different work styles and situations. Throughout the three months, Carmel and her team noticed work quality and productivity did not suffer or lag. Staff continued to be just as effective as before, the only change being their work site.

“People were more conscious of each other and communicated better,” said Carmel. “All that’s changed is their work location.”

Carmel adds that the real issue had been building trust and understanding of every employee’s situation.

“Trusting staff to do the right thing is really appreciated,” she said. “We’re trusting staff to get the work done, and as highly professional, mature adults with IT expertise, they are.”

The pilot has been a huge success. After the three month test period, from May to July, it is now in full effect. Carmel and her team have worked through the challenges and look forward to how this new work-life balance opportunity will benefit staff. The team also continues to improve the process, building their own tips and tricks to optimize use of communications technology and access.

“We wanted to include staff in designing the solution to make it work and to achieve a fair and equitable adoption and sharing of telecommute days,” she said. “We picked this as our one thing since it received the highest number of votes that we heard staff wanted to work on.”

“By prioritizing our objectives and agreeing as a group on terms for this pilot project, we were able to get good results. Work-life balance is huge, and now each member of our team has a day that they can work from home.”

One Comment on “Engaging employees in action planning pays off big

  1. This is terrific news. I know a number of workers in the private and public sector alike that put work life balance on equal footing with proper compensation. A more expansive telecommuting policy reaching more departments, might allow King County to hire talented Gen X and Gen Y talent as baby boomers retire. This is essential to the long term success of the County and please keep expanding it.