The "people" in People First are making a difference

August 17, 2016

By T'Jae Ellis, People First Program Manager

Feedback collected in 2016 shines a favorable spotlight on ARL's Strategic Initiative People First, and credit to this initiative's success is owed to our workforce who've helped root the idea of putting people first in our organizational culture.

People First is one of the Four pillars that uphold ARL's foundation; it's joined by Business Acumen, Technical Strategy and Open Campus. Policies, programs and initiatives that are clearly people-centric align with the People First pillar. These policies, programs and initiatives are the building blocks that help strengthen ARL's distinctive, competitive advantages. Those building blocks are the workmanship of experts and staff in our functional offices who oversee improvements in physical conditions of facilities, who produce personnel spotlights, who bring to our supervisors tools to help ease burdensome and routine tasks, and who simplify services like helping us more easily connect wirelessly while away from our duty stations. These building blocks resulted in flexible work schedules, new core hours and greater publicity about our awards and recognition programs. These building blocks also include efforts from self-forming ad hoc teams that brought us the ARL Holiday Ball, ARL Day at Ball Games and this summer's Shrimp and Bull Roast. And, these building blocks include efforts initiated by special groups like the Diversity and Inclusion Board, Division Chief Cohort, the Post-Doc Association and Fellows. These building blocks are fortified monthly when the leads of the pillars come together and discuss prevailing issues, concerns and opportunities across the enterprise. ARL's engagement successes are because of you, our workforce, and your willingness to allow the same innovative spirit that drives our research bench to permeate throughout our business and administrative management practices. In many respects, you've allowed the ideals of People First to become more than a corporate aspiration; it's becoming an organizational inspiration.

Recent workforce surveys and focus groups support this. The workforce reported that ARL is a good place to work and that ARL treats its workforce well. That's represented in comments saluting work/life balance and recognition programs, the availability of training and other developmental opportunities like technical seminars, work details and developmental assignments, and improvements in how teams interact with one another today compared to a year ago. Generally, our workforce believes that People First, as a strategic initiative, is making a difference by improving the organizational culture. Some among our workforce believe senior managers support People First by the way they interact with, recognize and champion their staffs. Focus group results recently showed our workforce recognizes a "substantial increase" in its trust of leadership during the past 12 months, due in large part to ARL's emphasis on People First, greater transparency and improved collaboration across the Laboratory.

Yet, there's still work to do. Lots! Some employees don't believe their managers support People First. There are perceptions that contractors, scientists and engineers, and administrative management and support employees do not value each others' roles. Many at our field element sites don't feel included in corporate initiatives. Our list of challenges and complaints is often longer than our list of solutions, and that's where you come in.

It's going to take support of the workforce to realize improvements and make positive changes. We're counting on you to give these efforts an honest try and provide us feedback on ways to improve these efforts. We're counting on you to champion each other and initiatives you really enjoy and appreciate. We're counting on you to join People First initiatives; view it as another avenue through which your voices can be heard, and through which you can contribute to improving ARL's organizational culture. People First is striving to create an organizational culture that is inclusive and built on trust, and that values the contributions of each member of our workforce. You're contributions are the difference makers.


Last Update / Reviewed: August 17, 2016