Leadership – Small Company
Teresa Hafer, Director, Black Alpha

Teresa’s spirit and passion for her job are evident in the ways she created a recruiting process and built a pipeline of candidates, increased company branding and developed a cohesive company culture for employee engagement.

Teresa created a series of goals around recruiting and retention. Some of these included creating an employer brand, engaging employee participation in outreach, and enlisting employees to lead special events and projects.

She created two new roles: Strategic Growth Manager to leverage new teaming agreements and partnerships for greater opportunities on more contracts; and Technical Recruiter, to be trained and coached in “unique to the intelligence community” strategies for sourcing and recruiting. The new roles resulted in growth from three contracts to more than 16 in two years.

Employees have enthusiastically participated in community outreach, helping to host events for the intelligence community. Unusual giveaways given out during required meetings such as vendor t-shirts, tubes of German mustard, Star Wars cups, etc has kept the culture fun. Because of programs like ‘Bonusly’ (peer recognition, Google Hangouts, etc.), even the lone employee in Colorado stays engaged and feels a part of the team.

Teresa proposed and managed employee activities like Games Night, Fantasy Football, Fundraisers and March Madness. She initiated conversations with senior engineers to create a program for collaboration in the creation of new products, keeping employees challenged and engaged. Employee celebrations were expanded from must birthdays and anniversaries to include events such as Fitness Milestones, Pet Adoption, Moves, Gaming Achievements. Overall, the initiatives in employee engagement resulted in zero attrition in 2015.

Teresa’s speaking engagements at career fairs and providing tips for candidates has increased employer branding. For 2016, she already has 20 events on the books, including a national conference, and she has been solicited to write blog posts for career boards.

Across the board, Teresa’s impact on employee retention and growth has contributed significantly to the bottom line and the company is now one of the top 3 finalists for “Best Places to Work” in 2016.

Leadership – Small Company
Monika Derec, Director, XBA

Monika joined XLA just as it completed a merger of two dissimilar organizations from the services provided to the culture established. Faced additionally with layoffs, budget constraints, company re-organization and high turnover of the Executive Team, Monika was instrumental in the balance of uncertainty and commitment in the organization. Communication, engagement, and retention were keys to the success of the organization.

Monika created the XLA Links and Ladders Program, a back-to-basics approach introducing the practice of principle-centered leadership, the importance of ethical behavior, mission awareness and communication.

Monika practices unique communication practices to develop genuine connections to employees and fostered a gateway for them to ask questions and express concerns via personal interaction, quarterly happy hours, company-wide events, a newsletter and various professional training and education initiatives. Concerns are addressed quickly mitigating issues related to pay and retention and career advancement opportunities. She implemented “Lunch and Learn” events to enhance understanding of the corporate and client mission.

Monika has encountered and successfully resolved a broad spectrum of leadership challenges at all levels of the organization by building a sense of teamwork and pride in the organization. She rallies the teams to work under a shared vision and sense of purpose. She identifies toxic elements and builds unified teams through coaching and counseling, increasing awareness of how behaviors affect others in the office, further encouraging an inclusive culture. Through her efforts, she has touched the lives of 60% of the XLA workforce

CHRO of the Year – Small Company
Carolina Alfred, CHRO, Red Hill Consulting

To achieve a long-term goal of 10 times the growth in 10 years while still remaining the best place to work is a clearly challenging objective. A trusted strategic advisor and confidant to the CEO/President and the leadership team, Carolina is well positioned to influence Eagle Hill’s strategic initiatives as Senior Director, Head of Human Resources. She implemented the overall vision for all facets of talent management and has done so amidst rapid growth while continuing to demonstrate the organization’s key values and embodying its family-oriented culture.

Carolina created and implemented three key strategies in support of the company’s long-term goal. The first was to address the challenge of attracting and hiring “A” players. She rolled out a new hiring methodology that standardized the screening approach, leveraging her change management expertise to train a dispersed recruiting team on the new process. As a result, the company saw an increase in high performers from 23% to 78%.

Her second strategy was to retain “A” players by providing career paths and development support. She worked closely with executives to define clear performance standards and expectations. Next, she introduced new career levels and a competency framework, which outlines expectations by level. Lastly, she seamlessly rolled out the new performance review process to the company.

Carolina’s third strategy was to refine the promotion process to enhance clarity concerning career progression. Engaging others throughout the company, she launched a career advisor program, that 100% of employees believe positively impacts their career development.

As Red Hill Consulting continues to grow, strategies implemented by Carolina are positively impacting the company. The average retention rate is 93%, and 93% of employees believe that it is a “best place to work.” Further, Red Hill has been recognized locally and nationally for their award-winning culture and business growth.

CHRO – Small Company
Maria Hogan, CHRO, DARMA LLC

“Our people are our strength” is DARMA’s philosophy when interacting with employees. Their overall corporate value is simple – they care for their employees. This care extends from their employees to their clients, reaffirming the value of taking care of one another. Maria Hogan, Director of Human Resources, is a tireless champion and advocate for the company. Her deep commitment to putting employees first was an asset to her when confronted with the many challenges associated with not having a formal onboarding program amidst rapid growth at DARMA.

Maria designed a strategic onboarding program that focused on attracting, retaining and nurturing talent, with the objective of touching on all three of these areas within the new hire’s first six months of employment. Her plan included improving all facets of a candidate’s interactions with DARMA, beginning with the first impression a prospective employee would have after visiting the company website, to conducting less formal interviews during the hiring process, to extending quality support and follow up after being hired.

At this point, Maria was able to turn her focus to leveraging the best internal talent to assist her in the onboarding process. She selected individuals from varying levels and tenures, with a mixture of personality types, to be a part of the program. This group was firmly committed to ensuring all new hires were introduced to DARMA’s company values by ensuring that they felt valued in the process.

Since the launch of the program, DARMA’s attrition rate has dropped by 7.5%. Additionally, DARMA was recognized as one of the Washingtonian’s 50 Great Places to Work in 2015. Maria’s belief that her purpose in life is to help others has come to fruition through her work at DARMA. Identified as “The Manager of Lasting Impressions”, she is valued for both her professionalism and her humanism.

CHRO of the Year-Large Company
Tom Main, CHRO, President of Ambay

Tom Main is the Chief HR Officer at Ambay. Ambay is the national rail operator with 21,000 route miles in 46 states, DC and three Canadian provinces and has over 20,000 employees.

Tom introduced a 5-year roadmap for making Ambay a company known for safety, customer service, and high performance. Ambay’s Human Capital team redefined the employment experience with the Ambay Total Rewards performance-based incentive program with Board approval. The Learning Council manages training and uses an integrated talent management approach in regards to sourcing candidates, coaching, feedback, and monitoring of performance and ongoing career growth and development. An enterprise-wide Lean/Six Sigma process was also implemented resulting in 14 Human Capital processes having met ISO 9001 certification.

Through the first-ever Human Capital Strategy, Tom established clear goals and measures to track progress and deliver results. Tom led the development and implementation of a comprehensive, multi-year implementation plan based on the ADKAR change management model. This approach educated, informed and engaged stakeholders via in-person, teleconferences, webcasts, videos, home mailers, and a toll-free hotline. Monthly Board meetings included a progress dashboard and weekly status updates to keep the Executive Committee updated on the project.

The results were phenomenal, including:

  • $1.4 billion in savings over 20 years (closed pension and retiree health to new hires);
  • $655 million balance sheet improvement over 5 years (froze pension accruals and moved post-65 to private exchange);
  • $23 million savings over 5 years from CDH plan implementation.

Additional achievements include:

  • Institutional Shareholders Service (ISS) model for executive compensation packages;
  • a competitive, consistent and compelling rewards structure;
  • the first-ever CEO and company succession plan;
  • recognition by Forbes as an employer of choice and ranked one of the best companies for social recruiting;
  • reducing the hiring cycle from 177 to 64 days;
  • achieved Veteran’s hiring goal of 25% by 2015.

CHRO of the Year-Large Company
Barny Vellet, CHRO, ARP

Barny leads an enterprise HR team for a $1.5 billion organization spanning all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands with over 2,000 employees and over 90,000 volunteers.

Barny implemented a Voluntary Separation Program in 2015 to meet the current and future needs of the organization. The VSP was executed flawlessly, resulted in 266 people leaving voluntarily, earned a 94% satisfaction rate and freed up $42.3 million over 5 years. 168 of the 544 vacancies were filled with internal transfers, many of these were promotions or roles with a bigger scope than before.

The VSP provided an opportunity to streamline a new nimble and agile leadership structure. Through an Employee Feedback Survey, Barny identified and addressed career development and internal mobility interests. The Enterprise Strategy and Innovation (ESI) function was created and functions as a centralized innovation hub.

With the CEO, he reduced the Executive Team by 4 members and the Leadership Team by 75 members. He introduced a leadership development program to augment leadership and management for the 21st Century Non-Profit Executive. The E-team confidence scores were 75% and the L-team confidence scores were at 80%. With the new leadership structure confidence scores rose to 98% and 96% and 49% of the leadership development program participants were promoted or took on increased responsibilities.

He established an ARP Alumni Group and initiated Lifetime Memberships for all employees. The Marketing, Communications, Membership Experience, Brand Experience, Digital/Social Media and Media Relations departments were consolidated into one strategic business unit of Integrated Communications.

He’s fostered an authentic culture by creating employee friendly communication vehicles such as “Ask Barny,” a social media platform to communicate directly with the CHRO and the CHRO Advisory Council, a first line manager led group providing employee insights and driving an agenda for the CHRO.

Strategic Alignment
U.S. Department of Justice

A growing awareness of the need to be sustainable and conserve energy, as well as economic realities affecting the federal government, led to a series of mandates, budget cuts, and stewardship expectations from the US Office of Management and Budget that forced federal agencies to re-examine their use of and need for space. In response to these drivers, the Office of Justice Programs embarked on a comprehensive, multi-year workspace initiative to consolidate their workforce into one building, reassign space to allow for greater interoffice interaction, maximize space utilization and develop a state-of-the-art office environment that promotes workplace productivity, enables a cohesive and collaborative workplace, and attracts and retains high performing contributors.

The result was two new hoteling neighborhoods with over 200 mobile workstations in a variety of styles, including stand up desks; over 45 newly remodeled conference, meeting and team rooms with modern furniture and enhanced audiovisual capabilities; and online workplace scheduling system; more natural light; WiFi access; 13 balconies; modernized open collaborative areas; a new space for nursing mothers; laptops, smartphones, and other mobile tools; refreshed break rooms with new kitchen equipment and furniture.

It was not lost on anyone that they were embarking on a paradigm shift and the HR Division and the larger Workspace Initiative Team were committed to listening to staff and keeping them connected to the change going on around them through change management, communication, and employee engagement.

As employees moved into a more mobile workplace, concerns were replaced with excitement and energy about a new way of working. They developed new skills in problem-solving and served as resources to one another, modeling new ways of working and evolving team protocols. OJP’s new environment has yielded a substantial ROI and will undoubtedly lead to a positive impact on their ability to provide critical support to federal, state, local and tribal justice systems.

Strategic Alignment
CACR Inc: Walt Schneider

CACR’s HR Learning and Development team, with executive level buy-in and Subject Matter Expert (SME) support, transformed the New Hire and Annual Compliance training from an activity that was lacking employee engagement, ownership, and commitment to an engaging training experience that actively supports the achievement of business goals, promotes their ethical culture, encourages values-based behavior, and promotes a code of conduct that impacts employee decision-making.

The training was developed using sound instructional design practices. The testing phase involved SMEs, L&D; staff, and line employees who tested various access points and technical requirements. The communications strategy incorporated descriptions of roles and responsibilities and outlined well-defined outreach to ensure that milestones and activities were communicated in a timely manner.

The result was a new format that included cartoons and humor that created a sense of curiosity with the learner and ensured that the training was no longer a game of speed. Some Modules offer real-life recent events that employees have seen in the news to help them understand how the situation would have a direct impact on their role and team. There is also a timekeeping survival guide to pass a scenario-based game and function as a takeaway quick reference guide.

Evaluation data proved a positive reaction from learners and the enhanced efficacy of the learning content design after the 2015 launch resulted in significant value to the organization including improved alignment of employee behaviors with federal and contractual requirements; increased situational awareness; accountability for compliance issues; reduction in corporate risk; savings in related costs to billable staff; and reduction in compliance violations.

Maintaining this engaging training experience as the new baseline and regrouping yearly to ensure alignment to strategic direction and compliance requirements will ensure a positive employee experience and organizational compliance success.

The Sister Dora Maid Award for Service to Others
Summit Consulting – Paul Martin, Mary Weber

Summit Consulting is a specialized analytics advisory firm that guides Federal agencies, financial institutions, and litigators as they decode their most complex analytic challenges. In 2014, the HR team formed a staff-driven Philanthropy Committee to address both local and global community needs. Their approach was to use their skills, enthusiasm and good humor to do the “one good thing” to improve the lives of others. To support these efforts, employees are entitled to 16 hours of community service work per year.

In 2015, Summit decided to focus on two areas in the local arena: hunger and education. They brought 22 volunteers to DC Central Kitchen for a half-day food prep and serving activity and raised funds for their neighbor, Central Union Mission, to provide supplies for DC school children. The Summit team then spent four hours stuffing those supplies into backpacks so the children were ready for school. Rather than simply hosting a general fundraiser, Summit’s team hosted an online auction of wacky services and goods for staff members to bid on. The HR Team’s passion for identifying creative solutions ignited enthusiasm and there were more than 40 items and services auctioned by staff members to raise over $1,000. The tie for highest-grossing auction items was between dinner at the Founding Partner’s rooftop terrace and a male staff member’s guitar serenade of “I am Woman” at a firm happy hour.

Summit’s staff members also raised funds for a global purpose, Syrian refugees, by hosting a pumpkin sale and carving contest. This turned into a teambuilding activity where information about the refugee crisis was shared and employee engagement was high.

Summit raised an incredible amount of money at each event but most importantly, 68% of staff members participated in at least one Summit-sponsored event in 2015. Not only did they serve the community, they also improved employee engagement and morale.

The Sister Dora Maid Award for Service to Others
Interstate Moving – Mark Terry

Douglas Owen founded Interstate in 1943 with a $450 used truck and a vision providing quality moving with Top Hat Service. The Interstate team has built a foundation of trust, partnership, and service excellence, and distinguishes itself with key industry certifications and numerous awards. As a corporate citizen of the communities that surround us, Interstate participates in and often leads community events, supports volunteerism among employees and makes significant contributions – both in time and money – to nonprofits that make a positive impact on the community. An internal committee, recently rebranded the CHEER Committee which stands for Charity, Health, Environment, Events & Recreation, leads the initiative to encourage employee involvement and coordinating various activities.

One foundation that Interstate partners and takes great pride in being a part of for 23 consecutive years is the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Program. Each year, Interstate partners with Marine Corps to deliver toys to over 800 less-fortunate children in Southeast DC. In addition, in 1983, they began two scholarship funds to benefit George Mason University students. Interstate was also a key contributor to GMU’s Patriot Pack Out program where university students and staff are encouraged to donate or recycle items they do not want to keep at the end of the year. Together, they’ve donated 72,000 pounds of food, clothing and appliances. These are just two examples of the long-standing traditions that have continued to grow over the years with the Company.

Giving back is a passion that has been a core value of Interstate since its founding. Through increased efforts of the CHEER committee, employees are now, more than ever, spearheading many of the company’s charitable endeavors which has resulted in more employees being actively engaged in the causes supported. The coming together of employees for such meaningful and rewarding work has increased morale, created a strong passion for giving back and helped to develop leadership skills.

The Sister Dora Maid Award for Service to Others
Micron Technology – Karl Bayer

Founded in 1978, Micron is a global leader in the semiconductor industry. Micron Technology Virginia (MTV) enables its team members to represent the company in the community. In Virginia alone, Micron has presence in 22 nonprofit and education boards and committees. Two key areas of community involvement have been identified and embraced, and also supported by the Micron Foundation. Through programs run by the HR team, MTV employees have the opportunity to be involved in the following areas: 1) Education – K-16, a science, technology, engineering and match program or 2) Career & Technical Education.

Micron employs many scientists, engineers, and technicians so they understand the importance of education and careers. Many Micron employees regularly volunteer at robotics competitions, help bring hands-on science lessons into schools and give site tours to students, teachers and professors as well as to special interest groups such as Boy and Girl Scouts.

A Charity of Choice program was established by the HR team to increase engagement. Employees identify the charity that the majority would want to support. In addition, MTV supervisors can bring their teams to a nearby homeless shelter SERVE as a teambuilding activity.

These initiatives, and many more that have been implemented, have increased the number of volunteers at MTV and the impact to the community. After years of support, including the simple levels of volunteering and mentoring in schools, to the large founding partner and champion of projects, the company can look back and see that Micron has changed their community in a positive and long-lasting way. And in the process, Micron employee engagement has grown and been valued by Micron leaders.