EMWS and the Role of Safety Laiasons

September was National Preparedness month and October hosts the Great Shakeout Event. What do these have to do with Henrico County Employees? Enter the Department of Emergency Management and Workplace Safety (EMWS) and their mission to make sure employees are prepared and informed of what to do in the case of a workplace emergency.

Workplace emergencies can be due to human error, natural, or a combination of both. Earthquakes and severe weather events can damage structures and cause injuries or death. Natural events, like lightning strikes, can spark fires or directly strike individuals. Structure fires may be confined to a specific area or affect an entire building. Within the Department of Emergency Management and Workplace Safety (EMWS), there are several hazards with significant overlap in preparedness procedures like emergency evacuation and sheltering. Overall, planning and practicing these techniques aims to have informed employees who know what to do if and when the real thing happens.

We all remember our school days when fire drills were formulaic, straightforward events. Straight lines and silence were the most important factors. The occasional hotel or dorm room false alarm may have been the last practice some of us remember. Depending on the size and complexity of the workplace, an evacuation may be as simple as leaving the office and turning left or right. Or, it may be a complex series of following signs, avoiding elevators and struggling to get to an assembly area.

For those who grew up on the east coast, sheltering may be a relatively new concept. Tornadoes were fairly infrequent, and most of us had never experienced an earthquake until 2013. Also, workplace violence has unfortunately become something we must think about and prepare for. Although finding a safe location in a basement, on a lower floor, and away from windows and doors is a simple concept, it’s not necessarily so in a shared work area.

 As employees, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA or “VOSH” in Virginia) entitles us to a workplace free from recognized hazards. Traditionally, there are guards on power tools, and any required PPE is provided at no charge. Additionally, where severe weather or man-made emergencies could threaten the workplace, VOSH requires an Emergency Action Plan or an “EAP” (not to be confused with an Employee Assistance Program). EAPs dictate that employees are informed of evacuation routes, assembly areas, and sheltering locations. Additionally, employers are required to identify any employees who have emergency-related duties. In most places, this is someone who can account for all employees once at the assembly area. In other work areas, this may be the person designated to cut off the natural gas supply to prevent larger-scale damage to a facility before evacuation.

This seemingly simple task is quite complicated for an employer with almost 5000 employees at multiple work locations (some with no fixed location at all). For example, how do we make sure that employees who evacuate the Admin Building don’t all end up in the same parking area without enough room for everyone? How do we ensure an evacuation assembly area isn’t in the exact location that emergency services will need to stage equipment and responders? Also, shelter locations are usually limited in the number of employees that can shelter there – and let’s not even add in COVID protocols and social distancing! The answer to all these situations involves EMWS staff in both the Emergency Management and Workplace Safety sides. EMWS coordinates the Safety Liaison program, which brings together employees from different work areas at all levels of responsibility. Safety Liaisons help communicate these requirements to their work areas, including directly to co-workers and sometimes to managers or agency heads. Safety Liaisons and EMWS staff meet quarterly to discuss various emergency preparedness topics and help prepare for drills and exercises.

On 10/21/2021 at 10:21, approximately 2400 Henrico County employees participated in an earthquake drill called the Great ShakeOut. Safety Liaisons helped work areas prepare for an exercise that simulated an earthquake, including demonstrating proper sheltering techniques. Participant surveys and after-action discussions collected both the positive outcomes as well as some suggestions for improvement. The next county-wide event will be the 2022 ShakeOut on 10/20/2022 at 10:20. The statewide Virginia Severe Weather Awareness and Tornado Drill is scheduled for 03/08/2023, and a county-wide fire drill is planned for later in 2023. Look for information in your work area for these upcoming events.  

If you have questions about emergency preparedness, evacuations, sheltering, or other similar issues, please check EMWS on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram or contact us at HenricoSafety@henrico.us.

 

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Open Enrollment for 2023 Benefits

October 1 marks the beginning of Open Enrollment for your 2023 Henrico County Employee Benefits. Now is the time to assess your health and wellness needs to select which health, dental, and health savings plans will work for you and your goals.

As Henrico County Employees, we are fortunate that our employer can consistently provide remarkably high quality coverage with as minimal cost to us as possible. Over the last two years, the County did not raise its employee benefit premiums amid the pandemic and nationally rising health care costs. In fact, in an unprecedented move, Henrico absorbed the higher rates into its budget while also approving historic salary increases.

Unfortunately, with the continued increase in health care costs, employees will see a slight increase in their premiums this year. However, considering the $16 million rise in Healthcare claims in the last fiscal year alone, the successfully negotiated pharmacy contracts, and the continued excellent quality of the benefits, this additional cost is nominal. Therefore, at most, employees will only see a $10-$45 increase in the premiums, depending on the selected plans. It is also important to note that Henrico will assume 80 percent of the aggregate cost of employee healthcare premiums.

The County has again tried to mitigate the additional cost to employees as much as possible. A recent study showed “…that Henrico County’s healthcare cost coverage is considered an “outlier” as it is one of only 15 percent of organizations in the entire country that provide healthcare cost coverage at the level that Henrico does.“

While the annual increase is a natural part of business and economic growth, Henrico wants to underline the quality of these benefits and the importance of their employees. County Manager has shared, “The quality of this benefit and the support that is provided by the Board of Supervisors is a major part of what keeps Henrico an employer of choice in the region.” He has also expressed gratitude for employees and their hard work saying, “…understand that our employees are everything to the success of this County, both now and into the future. Thank you all for the extraordinary work you do.“

Please visit the 2023 Open Enrollment pages on the Employee website to learn more about the plans and benefits available. Please click on the ‘My Benefits’ icon in Oracle to participate in Open Enrollment.

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Microsoft Training Registration is Open

In our ever-growing world of technology, there are lots of tools to help organize and plan our days. Picking the right tools can be daunting. Fortunately, The Department of Information Technology (IT) has worked with the Microsoft Customer Success Team to coordinate training for all levels of users. Starting Wednesday, October 5, through Thursday, October 27, Microsoft will host two sessions a day (at 10 am and 2 pm) twice a week. These classes will set you up for success by helping you manage, prioritize, and complete your goals and tasks.

Registration is now open!

 

Classes will include:

OneNote is a digital note-taking app that provides a single place for keeping all of your notes, research, plans, and information.

Outlook lets you bring all your email accounts and calendars to one convenient spot. This course will cover how to navigate Outlook, customize your experience, and increase your productivity. 

Planner allows teams to work together effortlessly by organizing projects visually in an easy-to-use application that works seamlessly across all your devices.

To Do Learn how to manage your tasks easier by allowing you to manage your to-do list anywhere, set up an intelligent and personalized daily planner, and share lists with colleagues.

Head over to the Microsoft Virtual Training Classes Registration page to learn more details and to register for the classes you want!

 

 

Date

Time (Eastern)

Training Topic

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

OneNote

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

OneNote

Thursday, October 06, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Outlook

Thursday, October 06, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Outlook

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Planner

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Planner

Thursday, October 13, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

To Do

Thursday, October 13, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

To Do

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

OneNote

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

OneNote

Thursday, October 20, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Outlook

Thursday, October 20, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Outlook

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Planner

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Planner

Thursday, October 27, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

To Do

Thursday, October 27, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

To Do

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National Retirement Security Month is something to celebrate!

What are your plans for this October? We all know that Halloween falls on October 31, but maybe you’re excited about National Noodle Day on October 4. Or maybe you’re looking forward to National Fossil Day on October 16. And don’t forget about National Boss’s Day on the 19.

Need another reason to celebrate in October? How about the fact that it’s also National Retirement Security Month. October is a great time to review your retirement income goals and reassess whether you’re on track for the retirement you want. You can start by taking a fresh look at the following:

  • Contribution level – Are you setting aside enough from each paycheck to build up the income stream you’ll need in retirement?
  • Asset allocation – Do you have the investment mix with the right balance of risk and return potential based on your planned retirement date and risk tolerance?
  • Retirement income sources – Do you have a plan for how your different retirement income sources—such as your current retirement account, IRAs, Social Security benefits, and personal savings—will work together in your retirement years?

For help answering these questions, you can log in to your account and check out your Lifetime Income Score (LIS). This projection of your future retirement income is based on your current saving and investing behaviors—and you can further personalize the estimate by providing more information on other accounts and assets. You’ll also get recommendations on changes you can make to help you get closer to your retirement income goals.

Taking steps to keep your retirement on course is the perfect way to celebrate National Retirement Security Month 2022. Log in to your Plan website today for a look at your Lifetime Income Score.

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Henrico County Honored for Supporting Cristo Rey Richmond High School Corporate Work Study Program

For many years, Henrico County has supported students and provided opportunities for them to learn, grow, and develop. In 2019, we partnered with Cristo Rey Richmond High School. This Catholic learning community educates young people of limited economic means to become men and women of faith, purpose, and service. Through a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, integrated with a relevant work study experience, they graduate ready to succeed in college and life. Students are required to participate in a corporate work study program that pairs them with a business or organization where they work one day a week instead of attending classes.

 The Work Study Program centers on strengthening students’ competence, confidence, and aspiration from families of limited economic means and empowering them to build fulfilling lives that advance the common good. By providing students with an outstanding college preparatory education and a unique four-year, integrated corporate work study experience, we seek to transform Richmond one student at a time.

As a founding partner in 2019, Henrico County sponsored a team of four students whose opportunities were cut short due to Covid-19. However, we continued to support the students through virtual mentoring workshops until pandemic restrictions were lifted. In September 2022, Henrico County was able to sponsor a team of 4 students with in-person experiences.  However, many employers could not provide opportunities as their offices could not accommodate students. Henrico stepped up to provide workplaces for 14 additional students in many departments such as Community Corrections, Emergency Management and Workplace Safety, Fire, Human Resources, General Services, Public Utilities, Recreation and Parks, General District Courts, and Economic Development Authority. On June 23, Cristo Rey recognized Henrico County as “Partner of the Year” for our support and dedication to the program.  

 

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What do you know about your withholdings?

Come tax time, the W-4 is an important form that allows your employer to withhold the correct federal income tax from your pay. Without adequately completing this form, in some instances, you may end up owing the Government money come tax time. In 2020, the old faithful form got a redesign that reduced the form’s complexity and increased the withholding system’s transparency and accuracy. While it uses the same underlying information as the old design, it replaces complicated worksheets with more straightforward questions that make accurate withholding easier for employees. However, with new forms, there always come questions. Here are the short answers to some of the most common questions regarding the new 2020 Form W-4:

 

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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Communication Capability

Whether you’re a new or longtime employee, the ability to meet the demands of our rapidly changing workforce is essential. With this in mind, Henrico County has introduced a new Capability Model designed to help County employees develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in our new work landscape. The model is shown below, and you can learn more about the capabilities within it on our resource page.

 

 

To help you gain an understanding of each of the seven individual capabilities within the model, the County Connection is featuring a series of articles, each of which focuses on one of the capabilities. This article focuses on the capability of Communication.

 

Effective communication is essential for productivity and good working relationships, and it’s only become more important now that many employees work from home. While verbal and written skills may initially come to mind, there is much more involved. Good communication also requires strong listening skills, the use of diplomacy and tact when interacting with others, and effectively addressing conflict when it happens. The Communication capability, defined as “Expresses thoughts, ideas, and information effectively,” encompasses all these skills.

 

Conflict can be an area many of us struggle to navigate well. Some may avoid it at all costs while others may be too aggressive when confronting others, resulting in damaged relationships. However, handled well and with good communication skills, learning and growth can occur. Communication can be at the root of many conflicts among employees. Let’s look at an example of a conflict between two employees and how applying the components of the Communication capability can help resolve it.

 

Two employees are working on a team to redesign a process. During a brainstorming meeting, they both present very different ideas on a solution, and they end up in a disagreement. To work through this conflict employing the Communication capability, one employee might respectfully approach the other and propose they meet to have an open dialogue about each other’s ideas.

 

During this meeting, each employee actively listens to the other’s ideas, asks questions to further their understanding, and tries to comprehend the other person’s perspective. They use diplomacy and tact to give feedback on each other’s ideas and their own opinions of them. Instead of trying to “win” or be the one with the “right” solution, these two employees would have a goal of coming to an agreement on the best possible solution for the process.

In this example, the employee proposing the meeting showed strong communication capabilities through the desire to learn more about their coworker’s point of view and approach them to suggest a meeting to discuss their ideas in more depth. The second employee demonstrated the capability by being open to the meeting and their coworker’s perspectives. Both employees approached the meeting with the goal of the best solution for the organization, listened to and appreciated each other’s ideas, and engaged in mutually respectful dialogue.

In summary, great communication is the foundation of a successful workplace through building positive relationships, increasing collaboration and innovation, and engaging employees. To find more examples of communication capability, view our Communication videos that include tips on respectful dialog and dealing with conflict on our OLTD Division YouTube page.

For more information on the Capabilities, visit our resource page.

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Finding Your Way to Well-being

Self-care can take many forms. At its core, it’s about doing things that support and nourish your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and well-being. This is especially true when it comes to managing stress. It’s about being in tune with what you need to take care of YOU.

One way to thrive more is with consistent self-care practices. These may change over time or even daily. The key is to consistently do something daily. Here are some ways you may choose to practice self-care:

  • Take a walk or hike
  • Meditate
  • Read for pleasure
  • Keep a journal
  • Make time for friends
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Listen to calming music
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Make time for health care appointments

To get a jump start on setting up daily self-care activities, use a monthly calendar to record your efforts. Intentionally set aside time within your day to:

Be mindful – such as a gratitude journal or avoid doing other things while eating to become a mindful eater

Move more – like getting up from your desk to take a walk break or track your steps

Nourish your body – bringing healthy snacks to work and avoid overeating at night

Sleep well – use ear plugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to block out disruptive nighttime noise

Whether they suit you on a daily or you commit to them once a month, make it a priority to add them to your routine to help yourself feel better, whenever.

Remember…

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible.” – Audrey Hepburn, American Actor

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A Look Back at the First Year of Leadership Henrico

Leadership Henrico (LH), a brand-new leadership development program for Henrico County supervisors, launched last September and supervisors representing all levels of management and from a wide variety of departments jumped in to be part of it.

Throughout the year participants met with mentors, mentored others, attended leadership workshops, collaborated with one another, met to discuss their leadership challenges, and volunteered in the community.
This past May they celebrated completing Year 1 of the 4-year program. With honesty, humor, courage, and heart, they shared their successes, stories, and lessons learned. Here are just a few of their comments:

  • “I feel I’m learning so much. I love how we get together with other leaders. This is such a difference from other classes or leadership programs taken before.”
  • “I loved hearing different perspectives and how much we all connected: having long-lasting relationships with different people for life.”
  • “I am SO excited. I’ve had such a great experience and am looking forward to continuing next year.”
  • My mentor (a department head) was there for me, made time for me, even though she is very busy. We committed to keeping up our conversations in the future.”

Registration is now open for YOU to join the next class of LH!

The program is open to all supervisors of permanent full- or part-time employees, at all levels of the organization, including anyone who went through LDP. Check out LH Overview: What’s in It for YOU? for a brief overview of all 4 Years.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! Registration occurs only once a year to ensure that a cohort of leaders can go through the program together. Attending the Kickoff is mandatory for joining LH.

Register NOW!

  • Leadership Henrico Year 1 Kickoff
  • September 14, 2022, 8:30-4:00, Henrico Training Center  
  • To register, log in to HRMS, go to Employee Direct Access > Learning, Learner Home > Browse Catalog > Human Resources > Specialized Training > Leadership Henrico Year 1 Kickoff 
  • Registration Deadline: August 10, 2022

If you have any questions, please contact Shari Bennett Speer (ben14/x7203), Kim Schenk (sch09/x7209), Nancy Outlaw (out/x7208), Rebecca Slough (slo/x7205), or Brett Hooks (Hoo011/x7210) in OLTD (Organizational Learning and Talent Development).

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