Valuing People

Northern Virginia Family Services is a great organization that is dedicated to helping vulnerable families and children. Each year they help more than 34,000 people find housing and learn job skills while also providing emergency services for at-risk people. They have received national recognition for their effectiveness in creating sustained financial and social independence for their clients.
Each year they also do a wonderful service for the community through their CARE Awards. These awards are given, after a tremendous amount of research, to companies and organizations. CARE stands for Companies as Responsive Employers.
I attended their award breakfast this year and was delighted to hear what the winning organizations had to say about how they value their employees. We hear a lot of talk from leaders about “people are our greatest asset” but what I heard at the breakfast was far more than words—I saw these organizations commitment to their people in action. The message was clear—you can be a successful organization AND a caring one!
In order to win a CARE award, organizations have to jump through some hoops—finalists are selected from a comprehensive application process and then are visited by a volunteer team who tour the organization and interview a cross-section of employees to verify information received on the application. Finalists are also asked to submit a web-based survey to a random sampling of employees. Winners are selected based on all information gathered and are honored at a breakfast at a Washington, DC area hotel.
The exciting part of the award ceremony for me was hearing from CEO’s of the winning organizations. They get a short time period to share their commitment to their employees and it was so refreshing to hear what these organizations are doing to be responsive to their employees. Some of the CEO’s relinquished their acceptance speech time and showed a video of their employees talking about the organization and its commitment to its people—powerful stuff!
One CEO talked about how they “infuse fun into everything we do.” Another talked about learning how important it was to do what he considered “simple things” like sending a personal condolence note to an employee. He said he was blown away by the impact it had on the employee and now he sends handwritten notes whenever he can. Another CEO talked about his organization’s goal to become a culture of caring!
Saying you value your people is one thing—putting it into action is another! Most of what the award winning organizations offer to their employees are things that just make sense AND, they build loyalty to the organization! Are you a responsive employer? Something to consider.

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