King County receives award for employee engagement program

surveyCaptureKing County recently received an ACE Award from Confirmit for improvements made in employee engagement as a result of its annual surveys and an employee-led action plan process to address issues identified in the survey.

King County was further distinguished by being named the Judge’s Choice in the Employee Experience category and was the only public sector winner in any category. Confirmit’s 5,000 clients from around the world were eligible to apply.

“This accomplishment was achieved by the collective efforts of employees and managers at all levels of our organization over the past five years, working together as one team to drive change and improvement,” Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer, said. “I have been inspired by the willingness of teams to use the engagement data to have direct, compassionate conversations on how to collectively address the survey findings.”

The employee engagement program is part of King County’s Investing in YOU strategy to build a welcoming workplace culture where every employee can learn, thrive, and do their best work. It uses data to identify opportunities for improvement and progress toward change.

King County also applies its Equity and Social Justice strategy to the engagement program to better understand the experience of employees of color through data, use a shared decision making model in action planning and address change through policy.

“Our program is unique in proving actionable data to create an equitable employee experience,” Brooke Bascom, Employee Engagement and Well-Being Manager, said. “The questions we ask about equity and social justice, paired with the reporting we do on the disparity in experience, provide a high level of visibility and accountability. We also support the ESJ strategic plan with the shared decision making model we use in action planning.”

Below is the write up about our program which will be shared with industry leaders in the ACE Awards 2020 book.

King County

Driving respect, results and equality through actionable employee experience

King County is a government entity covering the most populated county in the state of Washington, US. Its geographic area includes some of the most pristine rural areas in the country along with thriving technology hubs including Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle. King County employs a workforce of 16,000 people covering lines of business as diverse as medical clinics, transportation, corrections, recreation, public defense and facility planning.

To support its goal of creating an environment in which employees are supported to learn, innovate and do their best work, King County runs an Employee Experience program, centered around an annual anchor survey and action plan tracking. The program focuses on three values: demonstrating respect for people by involving them in discussions and action about their work experience, driving results by being responsive to employee feedback, and being racially just.

The program’s survey is answered at every level of the organization. Employee response rates have increased from 59% to 70% as people see direct action being taken as a result of their feedback, and the engagement index has increased by 8%. From the insight gathered, action plans are developed by teams at the department, division, workgroup and senior leader levels.

To ensure accountability around action being taken, King County worked with Confirmit to develop a platform for entering and tracking employee engagement action plans. This tracks nearly 300 plans at all levels of the organization. What’s more, because King County positions itself at the forefront of aligning organizational operations to a strategic goal of racial justice, it worked with Confirmit on an algorithm to report the survey questions with the biggest disparity by race, gender and other demographic factors. This insight ensures action is focused on racially just practices.

Smarter Decisions:

  • Insight has driven the launch or expansion of fellowship and mentoring programs, and the creation of Professional Development scholarships
  • Visible action resulting from the program has increased perceptions of career advancement, peer culture and feeling respected
  • Diversity of top tier hires and promotions has increased by 18%; a wellbeing index has been created and a comprehensive mental health strategy implemented.