New department focused on helping employees succeed

A new standalone department focused on building a workplace culture where every employee has the tools, support, and opportunity to do their best work was created on October 3 when King County Executive Dow Constantine signed a Council-approved Ordinance to establish the Department of Human Resources (DHR).

Executive Constantine proposed the new department in April to focus on serving, supporting and developing King County’s current and future employees so they can more effectively meet the changing needs of the people who live and work in King County.

“As we embark on building this department and bring together all of our employee-facing work into one place, we can and will make this a better employer and a place that is recognized outside of our walls as being the best place to work,” Executive Constantine recently told DHR employees. “Having all of our employee-facing services working together means that we will be able to provide greater clarity and better service to our employees, to elevate problems and solve them.”

The Department of Human Resources (DHR) brings together the Human Resources Division, The Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution, and selected staff from Benefits, Payroll, Retirement Operations (BPROS) and reports to Chief People Officer Whitney Abrams in the Executive’s Office.

“The culture we’re building here, the expectations we set for ourselves, the way we treat one another, and how we support and empower our employees is important work,” Abrams said. “By elevating it to a department level, we are signaling that our employees are a priority and this work deserves a dedicated seat in the Executive’s Cabinet.”

The work of the new department is guided by the Executive’s Investing in YOU strategy that is focused on creating a culture where every employee can be at their best and do their best work, feels empowered to try new ideas, has equitable opportunities to develop and grow their County careers, feels supported and safe, and is treated with respect.

For Abrams, creating an employee-focused department is about putting employees in the best position to “pursue the work that they are passionate about here.”

“I firmly believe that valuing public service means valuing public servants, and in order to serve our customers better, we have to serve our employees better,” she said. “That’s what Investing in YOU is all about. And that’s why we are creating this new department.”