AWE -- Alliance for Workplace Excellence
Supporting Workplaces that Benefit Employees, Communities and the Environment
2011 Q & A

QUESTION: Detail your employee engagement initiatives implemented from the past year that make you most proud:


While the big picture – the planet, or simply the region – is critical, a corporate commitment to sustainability starts with people who believe they can and should make a difference. So Akridge also focuses on education and on individual contributions to environmental stewardship, large and small, supporting team members' pursuit of LEED Accredited Professional designation (15 Akridge employees, including Chairman Chip Akridge, have currently achieved this status), and encouraging staff to take such everyday steps as turning off computer monitors and using double-sided printing. The company has distributed reusable shopping bags and microfiber cleaning cloths to its 15,000 building Clients and provides quarterly electronic recycling, collecting items such as computers, fax machines, phones, and HVAC units from offices and securely recycling them. During Earth Week each year, Akridge seeks unique ways to foster an exchange of best practices and ideas on sustainability at work among employees, building Clients, investors, and vendors. Ultimately, Akridge’s success in going green is due to multiple programs and initiatives, as well as to nearly two hundred employees who maintain a focus on ecofriendly processes and products every day. Akridge is committed to a long-term vision in which commercial real estate uses new technology and conscientious planning to minimize negative environmental impacts on the city, the region, and the planet.

Asbury Methodist Village

We are most proud of the growth of our “WOW! - Working on Wellness” program. We have steadily been working to realize our campus vision to create a culture of wellness that enriches life. Participation last year was over 70% of eligible associates, including a huge increase in our annual health screening as well as quarterly wellness challenges that reward associates for healthy habits they maintain for a four-week period each quarter.

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP

One of our key initiatives in 2010 to support our Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle theme was entering into phase 1 of our composting initiative. We began this initiative by composting all of our kitchen food preparation waste in all of our dining centers across both our Delaware sites.


In 2010, BDO celebrated its 100th anniversary! To celebrate our centennial year, the firm kicked off 100 Good Deeds, an effort designed to give back to the communities that have supported BDO throughout its long history. Through this initiative, the firm achieved over 100 good deeds during its centennial year, participating in activities or events that benefit a variety of causes. In reaching 100 Good Deeds, BDO employees answered the call by helping more than 2,700 people over the course of 380+ group hours. All in all, the firm supported more than 80 different organizations, including approximately 50 children and human services organizations, nearly 20 food banks and several environmental cleanup services. In addition, BDO volunteers raised and donated more than $62,000 to worthy organizations. While our centennial has passed, BDO continues the "Good Deeds" initiative, and has now achieved over 140 Good Deeds! The benefits of the Good Deeds initiative have extended beyond our communities, making a powerful impact on our firm. The effort has provided a unique opportunity to help build teamwork and foster a sense of community within offices, making this initiative a true team effort that will continue to inspire our people.

Capital One Financial Corporation

Whether it's physical, financial or emotional wellness, Capital One offers programs and services to give our associates the flexibility they need to be their best. Our holistic view of health and valuing each person as an individual resulted in well-rounded offerings to help associates and families improve their wellness. Associates have the flexibility to leverage the resources that are appropriate to their needs.

We also encourage associates to take an active role in their health through our corporate “Be Well” program. By partnering with our associates to effectively prevent and treat medical conditions, we can impact future costs for our associates and company.

CarMax, Inc.

Preserving the values that define the CarMax culture remains a top priority for our President and CEO Tom Folliard. Even before his promotion in 2006, Tom partnered with the rest of the senior management team to map out a five-year strategy for CarMax.

Recognizing that the best way to grow market share, revenue, and earnings is through engaged Associates, Tom and the team decided to focus on Associate satisfaction. As a result, the five-year overarching goal for CarMax is to “Drive Associate Engagement to World Class Levels.”

“Engaged” Associates are:

• Actively committed to the CarMax mission, founding principle, and core values
• Company advocates providing exceptional customer service and striving to continuously improve their work environment

Associate engagement is measured through the same survey process we used to identify our core values, the KMX Compass – Associate Opinion Survey. In this survey, Associates respond to a series of 12 questions similar to those on the Great Places to Work Survey. The Gallup organization calculates the results and benchmarks CarMax against thousands of other companies.

In 2009, our results remained strong. (Our 2010 results will be reported this summer). Overall company satisfaction had an average score of 4.22 (out of a possible 5) overall. We believe our high scores are a result of the focus we put on Associate engagement and the continuous departmental Compass meetings conducted throughout the year. These meetings, which follow the initial results communication to Associates, enable Associates to lead initiatives that improve the engagement of their whole department and facilitate honest discussion.


CollabraSpace is proud of the initiatives that we have in place. In 2010, we had our first summer picnic for all of the team members and their families. We also added an internal Google site for employees to access documents, learn about company events, and to communicate through chat. Since the start of 2011, we’ve celebrated the growth of our company with more social events for our employees and their families and more opportunities to advance our team members careers. CollabraSpace supports an internal technical study group that aids engineers in their endeavor for certification.

College of Southern Maryland

We continually strive to be an employer of choice by offering comprehensive benefits plans and continually review our plans to see what can be added to further enhance our employees’ lives and their experience at the college. We increased our maximum benefit on our dental plan for the current year. We also improved our Life, Supplemental Life and LTD offerings to give employees more choice at a lower cost. We have expanded our internal training opportunities and will add even more in 2011.


FINRA launched pilots of two mentoring programs designed to provide mid-level employees with opportunities to develop professionally through partnerships with senior leaders. The goals of these new mentoring programs are to:

• expand developmental opportunities for all FINRA employees;
• improve ways to share knowledge across business lines and business levels; and,
• expose all employees to diverse experiences and perspectives at FINRA.

Holy Cross Hospital

During 2010, Holy Cross Hospital engaged in a campaign to ensure that the results of our employee engagement survey were put to good use. We validated the results of the survey through multiple feedback sessions with many workgroups, including those that had lower levels of engagement than the rest of the groups at the hospital. Through those feedback sessions, we identified cross cutting themes related to the need for additional communication vehicles, and a special emphasis on ensuring that our workforce had the tools and materials to perform their duties. Members of the Senior Management Council followed up with visits through many departments and units to speak about the initiatives of the hospital and offer support to managers as they took questions and solicited feedback from our workforce. Senior executives partnered with managers in nursing units to ensure that our initiatives were progressing as planned.

The Gazette/Post-Newsweek Media, Inc.

We implemented a Holiday Wellness Challenge where employees vowed to not do what most Americans do over the holidays by gaining weight. We held a company-wide weigh-in before and after the holidays, along with providing BMI and blood pressure readings. Over all our organization lost a significant amount of weight and lowered its cumulative BMI by 10%.

Honest Tea, Inc.

The majority of our employees are field based, and it is important for Honest Tea to keep communication open between our Bethesda office and staff across the country. We implemented a newsletter, “Afternoon Tea,” that is sent out company-wide every day. We include highlights from recent events, whether we opened a new account or were featured in a PR piece, as well as announcements including birthdays, births, and life achievements. We also organized the first annual “Communi-tea Service Day.” Employees from around the country participated in non-profit service acts, giving back to their local community. We are looking forward to our second event in September. We will share photos and highlights from the service day at our annual company meeting.

IntelliDyne, LLC

Our learning and development programs included the creation of the Essential Management Skills Program - providing foundational skills for all managers, as well as a Leadership Collaboration Program - a high impact discussion forum for emerging leaders to enable them to work under pressure, champion change, and develop effective leadership throughout the organization.

iTHRIVE – IntelliDyne’s employee wellness program provided a robust offering to employees and their families. It included biometric screenings, flu shots, corporate fitness challenges, online coaching, and brown bag sessions.


This past year we launched “Kfit,” a long term health and wellness initiative and I was very impressed with the enthusiasm and participation. Our first event was an “Around the World” competition. All 1500 Partners and employees were split into four teams and instructed to track the number of steps they walked each day. The goal: to see which team could “walk around the world” first. We developed maps to show how many steps it would take, for example, from KPMG in Washington to KPMG in Cairo and then on to other KPMG locations around the globe and back home. The competition was so popular we extended it from 8 weeks to 12. It was a great example of teaming, and connecting around walking -- a simple yet effective part of a daily health and wellness routine. KFit participants walked over 170 MILLION steps during the competition -- the equivalent to walking around the circumference of the earth over THREE times. Each participant, on average, walked the equivalent of the entire Beltway 1.5 times.

Marriott International, Inc.

Our Associate Engagement Strategy – “Living Our Core Values and Culture” – ensures a continual focus on retaining associates who are committed to Marriott’s standards of service excellence and inspired to go above and beyond to provide the best guest experience. As a result, associates help our company succeed, which also leads to their personal success. This strategy also helps us deliver on our employer brand promises of "Grow, Reward and Live" by:

Providing associates at all levels of our company with training and performance development programs and opportunities to help them grow personally and professionally.

Rewarding associates for their commitment and delivery of excellent guest service through our benefits, total compensation and rewards programs.

Establishing a supportive and inclusive work environment where associates’ ideas and commitment to success can be experienced. 

Now more than ever ensuring we have an engaged workforce is critical to the success of our business. It’s more than just loyalty that drives our associates to success. Engagement moves hourly and management associates to be passionate about our company’s mission.

MCT Federal Credit Union

Based on employee feedback, we have launched a new leadership development program for up-and-coming Branch Operations Managers.  The program provides participants with an opportunity to meet with subject matter experts from across the organization so that they gain an understanding of how all the areas of the organization are interrelated.  The roundtable discussion format allows the participants to openly ask questions and dissect operational policies and procedures to gain a complete understanding of why we do business the way that we do.  The goal of the program is help future leaders think like leaders before they assume a management role.  While the participants are in their current positions, they are able to apply their new knowledge when making decisions and share information with their peers. 

Montgomery College

In addition to focusing our efforts on enhancing opportunities for staff professional development and career advancement, Montgomery College will soon pilot an enrichment leave program whereby staff will be afforded the opportunity to attend unique actives available on campus such as attending guest lectures or enlightening panel discussions.

Montgomery County Government

*TransformMCG is a comprehensive set of initiatives to transform the way Montgomery County Government does business. These initiatives, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), MC311, and MCTime or Electronic timesheets have enabled us to deliver improved responsiveness to customers and improved efficiency. *ERP is an initiative to transform the internal business processes of Montgomery County Government by providing an integrated business infrastructure. ERP has begun to replace most core business systems in the County and at the same time re-engineer and streamline current County business processes.

*In 2010, Montgomery County launched MC311. 311 is Montgomery County’s new, easy-to-remember phone number for non-emergency government information and services. For emergency calls, residents should continue to call 911. Residents can also access information and create or track service requests on the
new website available 24/7 at

*MCTime is the County's new system for recording time and attendance. MCTime streamlines the County's overall payroll process by creating efficiencies in individual departments and payroll.

*Montgomery County celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday annually with its annual
Day of Service volunteer activities and a Tribute and Musical Celebration. The Volunteer Center is coordinating indoor volunteer projects, canned food drives and the annual Day of Service activities at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. The musical celebration will be held at the Music Center at Strathmore.

*Montgomery County has successfully partnered with the Arbor and the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington's Senior Community Service Employment Program to provide on-the-job training sites throughout the organization for low-income County residents and seniors.

*Montgomery County annually hosts the National Association of County's Achievement Award
Ceremony for County employees and community partners who have earned these prestigious national awards. The County received 20 NACo Achievement Awards in 2010 including two which were noted as Best of Category for all Counties within the United States. In the past four years, Montgomery County has received 71 NACo Achievement Awards for best practices/outstanding achievement in County Government within the United States.

*Montgomery County’s Rewarding Excellence Program is a great example of collaboration between management and employees, UFCW Local 1994 MCGEO and Montgomery County Administration. Employees who know their job better than anyone else are coached to develop savings and efficiencies for Montgomery County Government. When these savings can be documented, employees share in the savings.

MorganFranklin Corporation

At MorganFranklin we believe that the key to sustainable growth, success and being socially responsible means engaging employees and enabling the resources of our company to do what is right for our staff, their families, our clients, and our community. We believe successful business and corporate citizenship go hand in hand. MorganFranklin has created a working environment where investing time and energy to make a positive impact on the community, environment and overall quality of life is encouraged. Many employees are actively involved in community programs and charitable organizations, serving as volunteers on committees and as board members. MorganFranklin is honored to contribute annually to numerous national and local charitable organizations through our corporate and employee matching gift and employee volunteer programs. In 2010, the sixth annual MorganFranklin Golf Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project drew an overwhelming amount of support for the nonprofit organization, which assists men and women of the armed forces who have been severely injured in conflicts around the world. MorganFranklin is proud to have donated more than $410,000 to date in cash and in-kind contributions to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

At PCRM, we strive to maintain an environment that encourages employees to be active and engaged both with our organization and the community as a whole. PCRM’s mission – to promote preventive medicine, conduct clinical research, and encourage higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research – is one that resonates with the majority of our employees. As a result, they are eager to engage with our campaigns and similar causes in the community.

One of the ways we encourage employee engagement is through PCRM’s volunteer involvement with another DC-area nonprofit, Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary. Throughout the year, we organize “volunteer days” so employees have the opportunity and flexibility to spend a day at Poplar Spring. Employees greatly enjoy this activity as it gives them a unique opportunity to support the animal community.

Employees are also given the flexibility to participate in other departmental programs and events so they feel more engaged with PCRM’s mission. For instance, employees participate in PCRM-sponsored cooking classes, Capitol Hill events, research study assistance, etc. Employees often take advantage of these opportunities as it allows them to feel more connected with PCRM’s cause. Staff education sessions and journal clubs also provide employees with valuable education opportunities that they can incorporate both inside and outside the workplace – which they do!

As a result of these activities, we are extremely proud of how employees take their PCRM experiences and incorporate them into their lifestyles. Our employees are constantly providing outreach to the community, whether it is a PCRM-sponsored event or their personal lives. Our employees are incredibly compassionate and sensitive to the mission that PCRM promotes, and there’s no better testimony to our cause than seeing our employees actively support the organization outside of our office. Their engagement is infectious to their family, friends, and public and we appreciate and invest in their involvement!


We encourage all staff members to become engaged in our company’s business and cultural functions. Whether its allowances for employee training, involvement in one of our many internal committees and workgroups, or annual corporate matches on employee charitable giving, PRIZIM strives involve all employees on a continual basis. We provide health and wellness seminars at our company headquarters, and encourage all employees to become involved in their communities.


QIAGEN identifies high potential employees for further development, training, and retention opportunities. Additionally, by evaluating the results of "Pulse Check" surveys senior management has scheduled additional employee events and provided managers with "toolkits" to help facilitate communication and change management in their groups.

Sandy Spring Bank

Sandy Spring Bank had several employee engagement initiatives last year targeted to specific employee groups to meet their specific needs. One example is a day we set aside to recognize all of our bank tellers. They represent approximately 20% of our total employee base and are vitally important to our business. We called this day, “Teller Recognition Day” and we got everyone in the bank involved. Each teller was sent a thank you note from our bank president and received a company logo shirt. Executive and senior officers visited each branch location bearing treats in the morning and afternoon. Back office support employees sent hand written thank you notes to each branch location. We surveyed the tellers after the event and we received nearly a 100% positive response. This day will be an annual tradition at our company!

Sapient Government Services

Sapient has a set of five Core Values that represent our culture. Sapient people live these core values and this is a key point of differentiation in the market place. People are nominated to quarterly Core Value Awards by their peers for exemplary exhibition of a particular Core Value. The nominations are reviewed by the winners from the previous quarter to select the person from each category that has best represented the Core Value. Each winner is recognized at a quarterly all-hands meeting, as well as receives a certificate, a gift card, and designation on the Core Values award plaque. The plaques are displayed in the office to showcase a history of achievement.

Social & Scientific Systems, Inc.

Project Management Initiative:

In 2010, SSS incentivized staff that had project management responsibilities to (1) further develop their project management skills and (2) work towards obtaining a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. (A PMP certification is the most desirable and marketable internationally recognized credential for project managers—awarded by the Project Management Institute [PMI].)

SSS purchased access to online courses that qualified staff towards meeting the educational requirements of the certification. SSS required that selected individuals complete the first 5 of the 25 course series—and paid for up a substantial amount of training time. All other individuals were encouraged to take the courses on their own time. For each course successfully completed during a quarter, the staff member was entered to win two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the continental United States. We conducted one raffle for each quarter.

This “carrot approach” to staff development allowed SSS to strengthen SSS’ project management capabilities while investing in our staff.

Sybase, an SAP company

The Health & Wellness Corner, designed to provide access to information about health and wellness. This library also includes information about preventive health, conditions and treatment options as well as online resources and advisory tools from our major health care providers. Employees may research treatment and conditions on own, using credible sources (located in the BeneFits Corner) such as Aetna InteliHealth, Kaiser Health & Wellness, Harvard Health & Wellness, or Tufts Health Topics.

Transportation Management Services, Inc.

One of the most proud moments TMS employees have every year is helping with the transportation at the Polar Bear Plunge. At this event, employees volunteer their time for a great cause all the while doing what TMS does best; help with transportation logistics. Everyone at TMS, human resources to travel coordinators, walks away with a sense of accomplishment and pride for giving back and an understanding for what it takes to do the job.

Vaco Richmond, LLC

Vaco Richmond takes the extra step in making sure everyone knows their position is valued within the company. Quarterly training for new employees and annual training for all employees provide both a working and social outlet, getting everyone oriented with Vaco and other valued employees. Every year, Vaco Richmond employees let their true competitive spirits show in the Innsbrook corporate games. Teamwork, good old fashioned competition, and joking around with one another are all a part of getting to know each other on a personal level. Incorporating a hard working professional environment with the friendships created in extracurricular activities such as this are key characteristics of our company and as the old saying goes, “We work hard to play hard!”

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless works every day to protect our environment and give our customers and our employees opportunities to do the same. Environmental stewardship is ingrained in Verizon’s heritage, and the company prides itself on having a positive influence on the environment in which we operate. Our company has launched many green initiatives and among those of which we are most proud is HopeLine, our nationwide phone recycling program which provides an easy and convenient means for all wireless phone users to do something good for the environment and our communities. 

HopeLine collects phones and accessories from any service provider in bins conveniently located at every Verizon Wireless Communications Store nationwide or by mail with a free mail-in label available for printing on our website:  postage-paid label. Phones are either refurbished for reuse, or those that are not salvageable are recycled in an environmentally sound way under a zero landfill policy. Every 5,000 phones that are recycled saves 11,000 kilowatt hours of energy – enough energy to power one U.S. household with electricity for a year. Verizon Wireless contributes the funds that are generated from the HopeLine recycling effort to support domestic violence prevention programs nationwide.  We encourage other companies to go green and recycle their no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories through HopeLine

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