Three County Programs Receive National Award for Innovation and Effectiveness
The National Association of Counties, or NACo, recently announced the winners of its 2017 Achievement Awards and three Prince William County Government programs were named as winners. According to NACo, the awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services for residents.
The Prince William County Police Department received an award for its Wellness and Resiliency Program; the county’s Human Resources Department, Training and Development Division, won an award for its Supervisor Equivalency Credit Program; and the Prince William Public Library System earned an achievement award for its Customer Service Program.
An alarming trend of health issues related specifically to first responders nationwide — including obesity, mental health, diabetes and other concerns — led the Prince William County Police Department to stand up a Wellness and Resiliency Unit within the department. The program assists employees by providing tools such as fitness support groups, educational opportunities and a volunteer chaplain program, among others, to help first responders recognize, combat and prevent these issues. The department also worked with the county’s Department of Fire and Rescue, Public Safety Communications and Community Services Board to develop the Public Safety Resilience Program, which provides public safety staff with easily accessible, quality mental health care. The goal of the program is to “move toward a culture of awareness of healthy lifestyles in the workplace by providing educational opportunities, hands-on experiences and small group presentations to address a large array of health and wellness-related topics for all employees,” the award submission stated.
The Supervisory Equivalency Credit Program provides county employees without supervisory experience the skills they need to compete for management positions, so that they might be able to advance their careers within the county. The 16-week course with weekly, four-hour sessions is a creative in-house solution to address the challenges of career progression faced by employees who do not have supervisory experience. The course, taught by in-house instructors, uses purchased materials developed for the county. To date, 66 employees have completed the course in two cohorts with a third cohort underway; and 11 out of 12 graduates interviewed for supervisory positions were promoted. “The program fosters talent retention and ultimately provides skilled supervisory resources to better serve the community and organization,” the award submission stated.
The Prince William Public Library System created a new customer service training program to ensure consistency and increase satisfaction with customer service across the organization. The Library System formed a Customer Service Team and developed a standardized training program. Customer Service Team Builders were recruited from the system’s 11 branches to assist with staff training, convey customer service messaging and to observe their peers in their customer service practices. Implementing the new customer service training program resulted in an increase in customer satisfaction from 95 percent in 2014 to 98 percent in 2016, the highest customer satisfaction rating of any Prince William County agency, according to the award submission.
In a press release announcing the awards, NACo President Bryan Desloge said, “Counties overcome complex challenges, provide essential services and constantly do more with less. We applaud these Achievement Award-winning counties for outstanding efforts to improve residents’ quality of life.”
NACo gives 18 awards in different categories that reflect the “vast, comprehensive services counties provide,” the release stated. This year, NACo recognized 605 entries from 108 counties in 29 states, according to the organization’s website.