By Jen Potter
When I was asked to write a blog about the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s commitment to employees, I asked myself one important question: does DEQ’s commitment to employees include a commitment to employee engagement? While commitment affects an employee’s overall satisfaction with his or her job, engagement goes a step further. A commitment to employee engagement means creating a work environment where employees thrive, and where they, in turn, are committed to the organization’s goals and values. It’s all about how individuals see their organization.
As our Deputy Director Scott Baird says, “Having a commitment to employees means having a commitment to each other.”
So, how does DEQ do this? I work in the Executive Director’s Office, so I see firsthand how hard our leaders work to balance what DEQ can do with what DEQ wants to do. They are always looking for ways to improve the employee experience.
Our scientists, engineers and other talented staff don’t just come here with a degree in their field of study and stop there. New technologies, new research, and new challenges arise constantly. DEQ is committed to helping employees boost their knowledge, pursue educational opportunities, and enhance their skills. Employees who are encouraged to learn and grow have greater job satisfaction and contribute to making DEQ the best it can be.
Our Executive Director does “walkabouts” in DEQ as often as he can. Dropping by employees’ cubicles or offices on a regular basis helps him get to know staff and become acquainted with the different teams that work here. This type of engagement has enhanced employee morale and shown that our director is truly committed to the employees of DEQ. This has been a huge benefit to staff here at DEQ, because they feel like they truly can talk to him.
How do you make an office more fun when you are working on serious concerns for the State of Utah? You build people up, you encourage advancement, and you encourage a sense of lightheartedness. You find balance between what you have to do, and when you can pause just a second to look at what you have. We work in an amazing state with so much to offer, not just to our visitors but to our staff. Getting together for fun activities reminds us why we protect this state and gives us the motivation to not only want to do our jobs better but to form the kinds of relationships that make our organization stronger.
Managers and employees have a unique opportunity to acknowledge each other with “On-the-Spot” awards. These awards are a small token to say “thank you” for going above and beyond. Every year, division directors pick one person on their team who exemplifies DEQ’s Mission, Vision, and Values. These individuals are honored because they didn’t just come to work; they improved the State of Utah’s environment.
For me personally, just working here has been rewarding, and that has been because of the leaders I have worked with, starting with Walt Baker, the director of the Division of Water Quality (DWQ). Walt taught me about the importance of communicating and was always seeking my feedback. He reminded me that my contribution was invaluable to DWQ. That in my leadership role, I needed to teach my team how to be empowered, learn to trust themselves, and most importantly, learn to trust each other. Walt showed me that no one was little or insignificant, that we all make a difference.
I am fortunate enough to work for our Executive Team now. They are true leaders. They lead by example; they never shy away from doing what is right for everyone, not just for themselves. Their doors are literally always open, and they are always willing to listen about how to improve. They aren’t afraid to hear the bad, and once they do, they want to do what they can to improve and make things better. That is a true commitment to employees. As an employee, you know you are valued.
Building great leaders is key to building great employees. DEQ is committed to building a great team, one I am proud to be a part of!
I am the Executive Administrative Assistant in the Executive Directors office for DEQ. I have worked for the State of Utah for six years, and love serving this great State! When I am not at work, I enjoy being with my family spending quality time together.