Christmas Mother Reflections

Eighty years ago, a local teacher went above and beyond for her students and community which started a tradition that is now known as the Henrico Christmas Mother. In October, the County Manager, John Vithoulkas, kicked off our annual fundraising campaign by asking the coordinators to make this the best year yet. County employees came together and found creative ways to collect donations and raise funds for those in need.

This year’s events included:

James River Juvenile Detention Center Fish/Chicken Fry & Car Wash

Permit Center Bake Sale

Planning Office Bake Sale

Finance Department Cookie Celebration

Human Resources Photo Booth

Henrico Sheriff’s Office “Pie the Chief”

Finance Revenue Division Taco Tuesday

Circuit Court Clerk’s Office Sweets Sale & Silent Auction

Between the events and department collection drives, County Employees far exceeded  last years’ virtual campaign contributions in almost every category.







New Books












Miscellaneous items








Maria Bagley had the honor of being this year’s Christmas Mother and was excited to be able to attend many of the events hosted by the County. On one occasion she met a woman who had previously been helped by the Christmas Mother Program. Shari Bennett Speer, an employee in the Organizational Learning and Talent Development Division of Human Resources recalled that event:

[We held a photo booth event and it was my job to call people over. I saw someone in a Santa hat and said “You need to have your photo taken with us – it’s to raise money for the Christmas Mother and you look so festive!”

She said, “I AM the Christmas Mother, and I’ll be happy to.”

Later, a woman walked past and politely declined my invitation to join us, saying she never gets pictures of herself — her family doesn’t even have any.

But she stood there and didn’t move, just looking at our prop table with a small smile on her face.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “But you know what? I’d like to donate.”

And then she told us that a couple of years back she was between jobs and struggling, and the Christmas Mother helped her when she needed it most. “I’d like to donate and help make a difference for someone else in need.”

A hush fell over us. THIS was why we were doing this. I told her “this is the actual Christmas Mother herself!” and they joyfully hugged.

20 minutes later she came back. “You know what? I WILL get a photo taken after all. This will be a gift for MY mother” – and as she posed in reindeer ears holding a sign saying “naughty or nice?” our smiles couldn’t have been bigger.


We couldn’t have been so successful this year without the generosity and hard work of Program coordinators and County Employees. In their presentation to the Board of Supervisors, The County Government Christmas Mother Chairs Tanya Brackett and Rebecca Slough also gave special mention to Jamie Massey and his team members: Renae Douglas, Marjorie Sykes, Jerome Nicholson, Nour Ramadan, Neal Jackson, and Medat William for their assistance in making sure all our donations were received in time at the Christmas Mother warehouse for distributions.

Many employees also volunteered at the warehouse as families shopped for gifts and received food donations. An average of 15 families were helped every 15 minutes during the week the distribution center had its doors open. After every family was served the the distribution center was closed, all the leftover food items were then donated back to Henrico County Public Schools for area students.

Together we showed compassion and kindness to our community, embodied the characteristics of the capability model and the Henrico Way, and made it the best year yet for the Henrico Christmas Mother.

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Best Practices for Creating an Inclusive Workplace During the Holiday Season

December is rich with diverse traditions, holidays, heritages, and religious observances celebrated in various cultures across the U.S. and abroad. The county has a diverse workforce, and we each bring unique backgrounds, lived experiences, and cultures that influence how we celebrate and connect with others. As we prepare for the holiday season, it is crucial to create an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere for all employees to foster respect and belonging in the workplace. Below are best practices to create an inclusive workplace to support all employees during the holiday season and throughout the calendar year:  


  1. Invite feedback and input from all employees. To identify ways to be inclusive when hosting events throughout the year, ask employees from various backgrounds, identities, cultures, and who hold different religious beliefs for feedback on how they wish to celebrate the holidays. Allow teams to guide the planning and encourage employees to think inclusively about essential details such as holiday decorations, food, activities, and music selections to ensure that no one feels excluded and that events are culturally appropriate for the workplace.   


  1. Make participation in holiday functions optional. The holiday season can be stressful for employees who are not religious or hold religious beliefs that fall outside of traditional holidays observed in the United States. Some employees may not celebrate anything at all. In addition, employees who have experienced loss may find it challenging to navigate the holidays or participate in activities that remind them of loved ones. To model inclusion for all employees, make participation in workplace holiday functions optional so that employees do not feel obligated to partake if they choose not to. Consider scheduling functions during times of the year that do not overlap with specific holidays or cause scheduling conflicts for team members. 


  1. Acknowledge and show appreciation for different cultures and beliefs.Encourage your team members to share how they celebrate the holiday seasons, especially those whose cultural backgrounds may differ from yours. Be open and curious to learn by inviting questions about their native cuisines, traditions, and customs to expand your knowledge and learn something new. 


  1. Explore different cultures, traditions, and religions. The world is diverse and filled with opportunities to learn about other cultures, practices, and holiday celebrations. Encourage employees to research holidays that differ from their own or participate in community events to gain a deeper understanding of the rich cultures and communities in Henrico County and the Richmond region. For Henrico County employees, you can start your inclusion journey by exploring the county’s DEI resource page or the Multicultural Community Engagement page for year-round community events and celebrations.  


This year, we are highlighting the following holidays in December:

  • Las Posadas: December 16 – 24
  • Hanukkah (Chanukah): December 18-26
  • Kwanzaa: December 26-January 1

A complete list of December 2022 Holidays, Celebrations, Heritages, and Observances can be found on the DEI Resource Page.


  1. Be open and flexible. The holiday season can be a challenging time for employees to navigate, especially as we close out year-end responsibilities and plan for time away from the office. Extend grace to your team members during the holiday season, and be open to differing thoughts, perspectives, and feedback about whatever may be coming up for them. Be open and listen to understand how you can create a positive experience where employees feel included, valued, and heard.  


If you have ideas for inclusive ways that Henrico can highlight different holidays and cultures, please contact our DEI Division at 501-4425 or

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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Leading Self Capability

The rapid transformation of today’s workplace is bringing many exciting changes and new opportunities. To support our employees in developing the agility and skills needed to respond to changing demands and provide new services, Henrico County has introduced the Capability Model. You can learn more about the capabilities on our resource page.

To provide insight into each of the seven individual capabilities within the model, the County Connection features a series of articles, each of which focuses on one of the capabilities. This article focuses on the capability of Leading Self.

Leadership at all levels is a core component of the county’s Henrico Way philosophy. Whether you are a formal or informal leader, leading yourself first is critical to successfully interacting with and leading others.

The capability model describes Leading Self in four ways:

Decisiveness: Makes timely and effective decisions to accomplish team and organizational goals.

Functional Expertise: Has the knowledge, skills, and abilities in job function or area of expertise.

Personal Accountability: Takes responsibility and personal ownership for actions and decisions.

Critical Thinking: Objectively analyzes and evaluates information to solve problems and make informed decisions.

Here are some examples of how you can effectively build self-leadership skills:

  • Effectively planning and organizing your time and work. Learning time management skills and using resources like planners, calendars, and apps to help you stay on track and meet deadlines.
  • Taking responsibility for your own professional development. Examples include taking classes or joining one of the County leadership programs (Emerging Leaders Certification Program for non-supervisors or Leadership Henrico for supervisors).
  • Learning as much as possible about your job or industry through research, job shadowing, classes, reading trade publications, etc.
  • Volunteering to take on tasks within your workplace that might be outside of your comfort zone to become more competent.
  • Taking personal ownership when you’ve made a mistake and proactively looking for ways to learn from it. Asking yourself and/or others, “What could I have done differently?” or “How should I approach this next time?”
  • Looking at a situation from different perspectives before making a decision. This might involve gathering information and/or asking for the views of others, such as those the decision would impact. It might also include considering the impact on other priorities or the organization.
  • Making quick, firm decisions in critical situations when time is of the essence. If this type of decision-making is difficult for you, seek the guidelines around typical steps involved in decision-making. You might also set a deadline for yourself to make a final decision. Once it’s made, assess the outcome to identify what went well and what could be done differently next time.

Becoming skilled in the Leading Self capability enhances your productivity, performance, and work relationships and better equips you to achieve your professional goals.


To find more examples of the Leading Self capability, view our “Time Management: Prioritize What’s Important” video and “Upskilling: How to Take Charge of Your Professional Development” video  on our OLTD YouTube page.

For more information on the Capabilities, view our Henrico Capability Model videos on our OLTD YouTube page or visit our resource page.

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Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Recently, the Fitness & Wellness Division has shared information on Life’s Essential 8™ – critical factors for improving and maintaining heart health, as defined by the American Heart Association. Past monthly awareness campaigns have included an introduction to the Essential 8 cardiovascular health target areas (September 2022) and steps to manage blood sugar in conjunction with National Diabetes Awareness Month (November 2022). This month we turn our attention to sleep with a focus on common sleep problems, recommended hours of sleep, and tips for setting up healthy sleep habits. 

Exhausted? Tossing and turning? Not getting a good night’s sleep? Sleep problems are common, and there are ways to improve the quality of your sleep with benefits to both physical and mental well-being. Common sleep problems include:

  • Trouble falling asleep – lying in bed for more than 30 minutes without being able to fall asleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep – waking up frequently during the night
  • Early morning waking – waking before you need to get up and not being able to fall back asleep
  • Behaviors that interfere with sleep – snoring, grinding teeth, restless legs, sleepwalking, and breathing problems
  • Sleeping too much or for too long
  • Excessive sleepiness or urge to nap during the day
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of energy

Sleep problems can hurt mental health by influencing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. When sleep is disturbed, you might feel irritable, grumpy, sad, anxious, worried, or stressed. Sleep problems can make it difficult to concentrate, think clearly, or make decisions. If you’re wondering how many hours of sleep your body needs, The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend 7 to 12 hours, depending on age.

Age Group


Recommended Hours of Sleep


4-12 months

12-16 hours per 24 hours, including naps


1-2 years

11-14 hours per 24 hours, including naps


3-5 years

10-13 hours per 24 hours, including naps

School Age

6-12 years

9-12 hours a night


13-18 years

8-10 hours a night


18+ years

7 -9 hours per night


Individuals do indeed have different sleep needs. Some naturally need less sleep, while others need more. For adults, consistently sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night or more than 10 hours per day can have health risks or be a sign of another health problem. One of the most powerful ways to improve sleep is to make small changes in everyday behaviors that impact how fast you fall asleep and whether you stay asleep. To improve sleep hygiene, focus on increasing behaviors that will enhance sleep, naturally reducing behaviors that interfere with sleep. Follow these tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

Tip #1: Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Some people have problems sleeping when they have consumed too much caffeine.

Tip #2: Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. It may feel like alcohol helps you fall asleep faster, but alcohol can disrupt your sleep by causing breathing problems and jerky arms and legs.

Tip #3: Unwind. Stress dramatically impacts sleep, so it is essential to relax before bed. Read a good book, do a crossword puzzle, take a bath or shower, listen to calming music or try a relaxation exercise. Screen time is stimulating, and the blue light emitted by devices can affect sleep. It’s recommended to avoid watching TV, going online, or using other electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before bed.

Tip #4: Exercise a few hours before bedtime. Research indicates that people who exercise regularly (30 to 60 minutes, 3-5 times a week) have a deeper sleep. In addition, exercising boosts energy, so it is best to exercise four to eight hours before bedtime. 

Tip #5: Follow the same routine. Try to keep the same sleep and wake schedule every day, including weekends. Maintaining a consistent schedule allows your body to establish a routine. 

Tip #6: Avoid naps if you experience sleep problems. Naps aren’t necessarily a problem, but for some, naps may interfere with sleep at night. If you are experiencing problems with sleep, consider cutting out naps to see if your sleep improves. It is best to keep naps short, around 30 minutes at most, to minimize disruptions to your standard sleep patterns. However, if you feel so tired that you can’t get through the day without a nap, you should talk with your doctor. It can signify another health problem, including a sleep disorder.

Tip #7: Avoid going to bed too full or too hungry. Eating balanced, healthy meals and snacks regularly throughout the day will help with a good night’s sleep. Try to avoid eating a large meal two hours before bedtime. 

Tip #8: Get up if you do not fall asleep within half an hour. Leave your bedroom and do something relaxing, like listening to soft music, taking a bath, drinking a warm caffeine-free beverage, or meditating. Avoid watching TV or going on your phone during this time. Then, go back to bed once you feel very drowsy. At first, this might feel like falling asleep is getting worse because you may have a few sleepless nights. However, it will become easier to fall asleep and stay asleep after several nights. Be consistent in your use of this strategy. Studies do show it is very effective in reversing sleep problems. 

Tip #9: Make your bedroom comfortable and only use it for sleeping. A mattress with good support and comfortable bedding are both helpful. Ensure your room is not too hot or too cold – slightly cool is best. Don’t use your bed to watch TV, work, study, or do other mentally stimulating activities.

Tip #10: Challenge your belief that you cannot function without a perfect night’s sleep. When you can’t sleep, you might check the clock and worry about getting through the upcoming day. This increases anxiety and makes it even harder to fall back asleep. Instead, turn the clock away from your view. Remind yourself that you can likely do your daily activities even when you feel tired (unless this would pose a danger to yourself or others).



The American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8

Life’s Essential 8 – How to Get Healthy Sleep

Sleep your Way to Whole Body Health

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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Inclusion Capability

As a high-performing organization, Henrico County focuses on providing our employees with the resources and support needed to excel in our ever-changing work environment. The new Capability Model (shown below) is designed with this support in mind. You can learn more about the capabilities within it on Capability Model resource page.

To help you understand each of the seven individual capabilities within the model, the County Connection features a series of articles, each of which focuses on one of the capabilities. This article focuses on the capability of Inclusion. 


For an organization to thrive, all employees need to have a sense of belonging and feel valued for their individual contributions. As a result, these diverse and inclusive workforces are better at decision-making, innovation, and overall results. These results are due to elevated levels of engagement and motivation to produce high-quality work.  


Some may think of specific types of diversity such as race, ethnic background, gender, or sexual orientation. While these are certainly elements of diversity, there are many more to consider. A few examples include age, cultural background, religion, disability, language, education, personality type, and personal values. The Inclusion capability focuses on creating a sense of belonging for the entire diverse workforce. It is defined as “Acknowledging and showing appreciation for the individual differences, contributions, and talents of all team members, and strengthening employee confidence in their abilities.”


There are many ways for all employees in the workplace to help foster a sense of inclusion. Here are some examples:

  • Increase your self-awareness. Be mindful of how you express yourself with your colleagues. Ask yourself: How am I coming across to others at this moment? Do I appear open? Calm? Approachable? Am I intentional about getting to know my teammates?
  •  Welcome everyone’s input during meetings. Create an environment where employees feel empowered to share ideas without fear of rejection. Pay attention to whose voices you’re hearing and not hearing during meetings. Encourage, listen and be open to diverse views and opinions, and acknowledge them with respect. Send your agenda ahead of time to provide introverted employees time to contemplate the ideas they will share, and make time for them to connect offline with additional thoughts after the meeting.
  • When planning activities, consider your coworkers’ individual needs and circumstances. Are there elements of the activity or celebration that might make any of your colleagues uncomfortable? Your plans need to ensure everyone can attend and participate. 
  • Connect with others. It can be natural to gravitate toward people when we have things in common with them. Instead, challenge yourself to build connections with those who are different from you. A great way to do this is to attend one of Henrico County’s workshops on diversity and inclusion to engage in open dialogue. Share information about yourself and ask questions of others to learn more about them. 
  • Encourage involvement and participation. When leading others, involve employees in decisions and initiatives that impact their work. Ask for their opinions and input through informal discussions, meetings, focus groups, or surveys. Asking for the input of your diverse workforce leads to better decisions and more engaged employees.
  • Recognize and appreciate others. Acknowledge your team members individually for the unique value they bring to the workplace. Share with them how their specific contributions positively impact the workplace and the organization. 


Fostering inclusiveness maximizes the organization’s success and engagement of the employees by involving the diverse perspectives, ideas, knowledge, and approaches of every person. To find more examples of diversity and inclusion, view the “Psychological Safety: Fostering a Sense of Belonging” video and the “Voices of the Heart” video series on the OLTD YouTube page

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Now’s the Time to Conserve Energy

As we approach heating season and electricity and natural gas prices increase, there is no better time to practice energy conservation and efficiency at home and work. According to Dominion Energy, the average home energy bill will increase by $12-$20 per month due to rate increases approved by the State Corporation Commission in September. Richmond Gas Works also notified its customers in July of price increases that will add, on average, $38 to the monthly bill for homes that use gas heat.  

Here are some cold-weather energy tips to consider:

  • Keep your thermostat set at 68 degrees or below, per the US Department of Energy heating recommendations.  
  • Open blinds and curtains that let in sunlight during the day, and close the blinds and curtains at night to keep heat inside the building.
  • Look for gaps and cracks around doors and windows that can be sealed with weatherization products such as caulk or foam.
  • Replace HVAC filters. Dirty filters reduce efficiency and make forced air systems work harder. Check filters monthly and replace them as needed (at least every three months is recommended).
  • Change incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs to LED for energy savings, longer lamp life, and better light quality in any season.  
  • Change the ceiling fan direction to clockwise to push air up and redistribute stratified warm air.
  • Conserve energy by doing the following:
    • Turn off lights, computers, and devices you aren’t using.
    • Unplug chargers and seldom-used equipment between uses.
    • Keep doors and windows closed when it’s colder outside than inside.

For more information about saving energy at your home, there are two local non-profit organizations that offer energy education, energy audits, efficiency measures, weatherization, and guidance to go solar. Find resources from Viridiant at and the Local Energy Alliance Program at  

To learn more about what Henrico County is doing for energy, sustainability, and the environment, go to If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Henrico’s Energy Manager, Carrie Webster, at 804-501-5763 or

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Welcome Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority!

Sports tourism is nothing new to Henrico County.  Recreation and Parks has done a phenomenal job managing a variety of sports over the years, and the foundation is solid.  The great news is that Henrico County has had an impressive increase in sports tourism which is why the newly- formalized Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority, HSEA, was created. While the authority and framework are new, it is not starting from zero. Henrico County has some incredible history that the Authority will use to help build its strategies going forward. The HSEA will retain and build onto the established framework plus develop an indoor sports tourism product. There are two ways to look at this new Authority: first, creating the Authority was the next logical step for the county to build upon the successes of what’s been done with Henrico’s outdoor facilities and sports. Second, the Authority provides a competitive opportunity to compete with other localities up and down the East Coast that have facilities similar to the new Henrico Sports & Events Center at Virginia Center Commons (VCC) and the future GreenCity Arena.

The Sports & Events Center at VCC is slated to be ready for use in the fall of 2023.  It will have 12 basketball or 24 volleyball courts.  This equates to 115,000-square feet of continuous playing space.  This flexible space can be transformed for gymnastics, futsal, pickleball, cheerleading and much more.  It will have a restaurant, lounge, meeting spaces and locker rooms.  The facility will hold all Henrico County High School graduation ceremonies starting in June 2024 and beyond.  This same space can be used for tradeshows and concerts with seating up to 4,500.


The HSEA is also involved in the planning stages of GreenCity, the largest ecodistrict east of the Mississippi. ​ Plans for GreenCity include office space, housing, and a 17,000-seat arena.

The HSEA is excited to announce that Glover Park is expanding to accommodate more tournament play in the near future as well.

The Authority’s mission is to further develop and foster sports and entertainment tourism.  It aims to attract local, regional and national tournaments and events to the County’s highly regarded athletic and event facilities

The website, is currently under construction but keep an eye out for its unveiling. 

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Manage Blood Sugar with the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8

Knowing how sugar (glucose) and insulin work in the body is essential for understanding how diabetes impacts health. Diabetes happens when the body has a chronic build-up of extra sugar in the bloodstream, causing blood sugar (also called blood glucose) levels to rise higher than average, known as hyperglycemia. When you eat, your body breaks food down into sugar and sends it into the blood. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps move the sugar from the blood into your cells. When sugar enters your cells, it is either used as fuel for energy right away or stored for later use. In a person with diabetes, there is a problem with insulin. And not everyone with diabetes has the same insulin problem. There are different types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. If you have diabetes – type 1, type 2, or gestational – your body either doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use the insulin well, or both.

Nutrition and physical activity are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. Following a healthy meal plan and being active can help keep blood sugar in your target range. Managing blood sugar is about balancing what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine, if you take any. What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are critical in keeping your blood glucose level in the range your healthcare team recommends. The American Diabetes Association recommends using the Diabetes Plate Method to create perfectly portioned meals with a healthy balance of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates – without counting, calculating, weighing, or measuring. 

Remember, along with diet and medication, regular physical activity is an integral part of managing diabetes or dealing with prediabetes. When your body is active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin, working more effectively to lower your blood sugar. Light walking is a great place to start and a great habit to incorporate into your life. Walking with a loved one or just by yourself while listening to an audiobook are good ways to move more. If you are struggling with getting started or feeling overwhelmed by the idea of creating a more active life, there are health coaching resources available to support you through this behavior change journey. 

Community resources are available if you are concerned about your risk for developing diabetes or are looking for help in managing your current diabetes diagnosis. 

Anthem ConditionCare offers tools and support to Henrico County health plan subscribers and their covered family members for diabetes management.

The Balm in Gilead – Southeast Diabetes Faith Initiative – Virginia, 620 Moorefield Park Drive, Suite 150, Richmond, VA 23226. (804) 644-2256

Bon Secours Center for Healthy Living Sarah Garland Jones Center, 2600 Nine Mile Road, Richmond, VA 23223. (804) 287-7941

VCU Health Hub at 25th, 1330 N. 25th Street, Suite A, Richmond, VA 23223. (804) 628-6401

Henrico County Employee Health Services offers health education and individualized dietary counseling. 7740 Shrader Rd, Suite A, Henrico, VA 23228. (804) 501-1600


Resource list:

‘Managing blood sugar’ link: 

‘Diabetes Plate Method link:,you%20need%20is%20a%20plate!

‘Health coaching resources’ link:

‘Diabetes risk’ link:


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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


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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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