Hanukkah begins

The eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah or Chanukah commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in November or December. Hanukkah 2022 begins on the evening of Sunday, December 18 and ends on the evening of Monday, December 26. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts.

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Las Posadas begins

Las Posadas, (Spanish: “The Inns”) religious festival celebrated in Mexico and some parts of the United States between December 16 and 24. Las Posadas commemorates the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth to the baby Jesus. When they were unable to find lodging in Bethlehem, Joseph and Mary were forced to seek shelter in a stable, where the Christ Child was born. Las Posadas is celebrated from Friday, December 16 to Saturday, December 24, 2022.

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Henrico’s New Capability Model: The Customer Engagement Capability

As we enter the new fiscal year, Henrico County has introduced a new Capability Model that replaces the County Competencies. This model is designed to help all employees focus on and develop the knowledge and skills to successfully lead and serve in a rapidly evolving workplace and community. View the model below or learn more about the seven capabilities on our resource page.

To help you better understand each of the seven capabilities integral to the model, the County Connection will feature a series of articles, each focusing on a different capability. This article focuses on Customer Engagement.

Providing exceptional service and positive interactions is at the heart of Henrico County’s mission and is a significant component of The Henrico Way. The Customer Engagement capability complements these initiatives and is defined as “Cultivating positive relationships with internal and external customers by proactively seeking customized solutions to increase satisfaction and build rapport.”

Our County employees have consistently modeled the Customer Engagement capability. While it’s always been a priority, customer engagement took on new meaning and importance with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some examples of this exceptional customer engagement before and during COVID-19 include:

  • County Departments automated and converted processes to electronic for citizens to continue to do business during COVID-19.
  • The IT Department converted systems and increased bandwidth within weeks to accommodate remote work due to COVID-19 restrictions while communicating with and educating employees on best practices for working remotely.
  • The creation of a call center to support citizens during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Nourish Henrico program was created to support local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic by purchasing meals for first responders and other eligible frontline employees.
  • James River Juvenile Detention employees created a food pantry to help coworkers who lost income during COVID-19.
  • A DPU employee assisted a customer at the landfill even though he arrived before the dump was open for business. 
  • A Police officer responded to a citizen whose car broke down, pushed the car to safety, and stayed with her until the vehicle was repaired.
  • A Social Services employee reached out to multiple contacts beyond traditional resources to help a citizen in crisis.
  • Library employees implemented virtual story times for children during COVID-19.
  • DPU employees repaired a broken water service line even though the damage was in the customer-maintained portion of the water line. 
  • The Advocate for the Aging coordinated the removal of a rotten tree from a citizen’s property, even though it was outside the scope of her duties.
  • An Animal Protection officer spent multiple hours searching for a lost dog and continuously communicating with the dog’s owners until it was found and returned.

These examples show how County employees anticipated customers’ needs, both external and internal, and worked creatively to meet them. They went above and beyond expectations through transparent communication, making decisions, and, at times, adapting processes and procedures to ensure the best outcomes for their customers. 

Excellent customer engagement boosts our citizens’ confidence in our county government, enhances productivity, improves processes, expands services, and significantly contributes to our being a high-performing organization. To find more examples of exceptional customer engagement, view our “Who We Are: Leadership Lessons from COVID 19” video series on our OLTD YouTube page and the County’s Henrico Way web page.

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

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Dormition of Theotokos

A Great Feast of Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, the Dormition of the Theotokos commemorates the “falling asleep,” or death, of Mary the Theotokos (“Mother of God”) and her bodily resurrection before her ascension into heaven.

We invite you to explore some of the heritages, holidays and celebrations observed throughout the month of August.  As you explore, we encourage you to find unique ways to recognize the rich histories, cultures, and traditions behind these occasions while honoring your own. For a full listing of holidays and celebrations, please visit our SharePoint page.

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Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month (or Mental Health Month) is celebrated during the month of May to educate and raise awareness about mental illnesses and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. 

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, which commemorates the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States in May 1843. It also marks the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869 by Chinese immigrants who laid the foundation for this project.  


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Employee Focus Groups: Reflections on Well-Being & Inclusion

As part of the County’s ongoing commitment to providing an inclusive workplace for all, we hosted seven virtual well-being focus groups in March 2021 to provide an opportunity for open dialogue, to strengthen connections across the county, assess employee needs, and offer support and partnership. With the establishment of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Specialist role, we also welcomed conversations on how the county is growing as an organization and solicited feedback to achieve an inclusive workforce.  Fifty-three employees from across the organization attended the sessions where they openly expressed thoughts in a safe environment and offered supportive conversations with peers on the global pandemic, mental health, wellness, and inclusion topics.  Employees also shared recommendations to guide the county forward in county-wide DEI efforts.

The key findings from the focus groups were centered around two major themes: COVID-19 and DEI.   Participants reported experiencing challenges with mental health and wellness due to the global pandemic, and challenges in moving forward through the pandemic. The County’s virtual Employee Town Hall meeting on May 13, addressed several of these concerns to help employees understand how the County is responding to their needs in these areas. Leaders at all levels were also encouraged to have conversations about their well-being and concerns related to the global pandemic.

Participants also openly expressed their thoughts and feelings on current events, race, equity, and inclusion. The major themes centered around national politics and civil unrest associated with violence towards people of color and marginalized communities; the desire for employees to have open dialogue with colleagues on topics of race and inclusion in the workplace; a need for psychological safety to be able to speak up and openly express their thoughts and ideas on any topic; a need for inclusive skillsets and behaviors across the organization.

We met with County leadership to share a high-level overview of the groups, including the following recommendations for the next steps:

  1. Establish a DEI organizational strategy.
  2. Continue professional development for all staff to focus on equity, skill-building, and development around inclusion.
  3. Engage the organization at all levels on DEI, mental health, and wellness topics.
  4. Potentially add additional check-in sessions with employees to assess well-being and needs.

As we look ahead, we will continue to create opportunities to have open conversations and invite diverse voices and perspectives to help the county be strategic and intentional about countywide DEI efforts and goals. If you have questions or feedback regarding DEI and the County, please contact our DEI Specialist, Shanone Sport at [email protected].

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