Success Stories!

Nine Comapnies in NWCCOG's Region Recognized as among "100 Best Places to Work in 2017" by Outside Magazine

By Jon Stavney, NWCCOG Executive Director

Outside Magazine’s November 7th edition highlighted “100 Best Places to Work in 2017” noting, “from unlimited vacation time to powder days, these are places that know how to treat their employees.” 
Sound familiar?  The type of company highlighted should.  They practice values-based organizational culture that fits out NWCCOG region perfectly.  They heavily leverage local lifestyle and location specific amenities (ski hills, trails, bikable places), flexible hours and work diligently at team building.  
Of the 100 workplaces noted, most are in West, 36 are in Colorado, and 7 of those are in the NWCCOG region. Of those Best Places to Work in our region:

  • only one pays an average salary above area median income of $70K (of those provided).
  • Six are smaller “professional” companies, in architecture, media, travel or marketing
  • Two brag that their primary work is outside – RA Nelson (construction) and A-Basin (ski)
  • All employ creative workplace concepts that take advantage of choice and place, like
    • Company bikes for errands and workouts
    • Generous flex time and paid time off
    • Regular group activities & outdoor “meetings”
    • Weekly perks – free staff yoga or other group fitness opportunities
    • Annual allowances for individual discretion for education, family or fitness purposes
It is important to note that appreciating place and quality of life is not a passive matter.  It is not good enough to just have the right zip code.  Savvy employers are leveraging the advantages of place by tailoring creative company policies.
My guess is that these places are consciously developing their talent just as they are cultivating culture.  Many of the benefits noted are not expensive, but they do require leadership that values company culture and that empowers and trusts employees to be able to balance work with play and family—things that local governments don’t always give themselves the permission to embrace for a variety of fears. 
Take note that the benefits above are not just for “cool” start-up companies with unlimited budgets and talent attracted by an upcoming public offering.  They do leverage the principles about intrinsic motivation so well outlined by Daniel Pink in his book, Drive.  My guess is that by leaning in to company culture, these companies get a return on investment in their employees back 10-fold over “traditional, 9 to 5” employers.   The workplace is moving in this direction, and these employers are following national trends that are outlined in the “Gallup State of the American Workplace Report” that include in a nutshell, more workplace flexibility and a workplace that values the ability to make choices and shape their workplace and want to grow in thier work.
I do think it is noteworthy that none of the 100 organizations highlighted were local governments.  
I bring this up because we talk a lot in the public sector about how challenging succession planning is with an aging workforce.  The benefits that motivated employees retiring today are not the same as those that will motivate their 30-year old successors.  We may talk a lot about governments about values, but we don’t structure our benefits or our management practices to make our workplaces attractive to next generation talent, let alone reevaluating our policies to emerging workforce trends.
That said, I worked for a place that quietly did all that—Eagle County Government.  The county worked very hard at playing up employee quality of life, flexible hours and a company culture focused on wellness.  As a result, it retained motivated and engaged employees.  We didn’t broadcast it.  I don’t really think we used it to attract talent.   I suspect there are other local governments that do this as well, but quietly.
After all, what will taxpayers say?  They often tell government employees, “you work for me.”  So we get defensive.  Penurious.  Sometimes we in government act as though we think that taxpayers must prefer inactive, unmotivated, underperforming employees who enjoy hiding behind red tape.  Employees closely micromanaged by directors who manage like it is still 1950.  Who suppress innovation because that is the way we have always done it.  Who value “job security” above leading change.  Outside magazine didn’t say it, but remember most job satisfaction surveys still rate an employees’ relationship with their boss as the number one reason for job satisfaction. 
My point is that most local governments are often GREAT places to work.  They are service based enterprises that enjoy a built-in values framework of serving community.  They often boast very solid retirement and health plans that sometimes to balance an inability to keep up with private sector wages.  This is one of the reasons I always had mixed feelings about celebrating longevity without also actively celebrating performance.  But do we lack in the kind of innovative benefits that would help local governments attract next generation talent.


Town of Silverthorne Business Grant Program
Silverthorne awards over $24,000 to four local businesses
Silverthorne is willing to put money down on a new optometry office, a local moving company's efforts to expand, outdoor improvements at a veterinary clinic and renovations to a relatively new restaurant.  The Silverthorne Town Council has awarded four local businesses, including Blue River Vision, Peak to Peak Movers, Silverthorne Veterinary Hospital and The Argentos Empanadas & More, grants worth $24,500 combined through the town's 2018 Business Grants program at the recommendation of the town's Economic Development Advisory Committee. 
Altogether, Silverthorne Town Council allotted $40,000 for the latest round of business grants - the same amount it has in previous years - and the remaining balance will either be rolled over into next year's grants or put into a second round this year. According to town staff, there's no push to spend all of the money, as the advisory committee and town council aims "to pick the best projects" and there's no timeframe in which the money has to be spent.


Winter Park Receives 
Downtown Excellence awards from the Governor's Office!
Congratulations to Winter Park for receiving the Downtown Excellence awards from the Governor's Office! The Town of Winter Park's Hideaway Station includes the town's first affordable housing development and only grocery store. The Town's efforts to revitalize downtown and create more accessible housing for the local workforce hone right in on two major themes that are important to the future of sustainable development in Colorado. Kudos to the Winter Park planners, and the real winners, the citizens of Winter Park. The town received their award on Friday, April 13 during DCI's IN THE GAME, Annual Vibrant Downtown's Conference in Boulder. 
Breckenridge Creative District - "BreckCreate" selected for $100,000 NEA Grant
Breckenridge Creative Arts, also known as BreckCreate, has been recommended to receive one of 60 grants awarded nationwide through the National Endowment for the Arts' Our Town projects.
The $100,000 grant will go to support "Ecoventions Breckenridge," a project done in a partnership with the town that employs the arts to achieve a series of ecological goals related to watershed health and wildfire prevention.
Our Town is the NEA's primary creative place-making grants program, according to the organization, which seeks to drive money to projects contributing to the livability of communities that place the arts at their core. Altogether, the NEA chairwoman Jane Chu announced 60 awards totaling $4.1 million in support of projects across the nation, according to a Wednesday news release.
"The variety and quality of these Our Town projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country," Chu said in the release. "Through the work of organizations such as Breckenridge Creative Arts, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are."     



 Colorado has lowest adult obesity rate in the nation

 The Trust of America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report comprised of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed 25 states had adult obesity rates above 30 percent, topped by West Virginia at 37.7 percent. Mississippi was second at 37.3 percent. In 2000, no state had a rate above 25 percent. Colorado was the lowest in the nation at 22.3 percent.  We are in a healthy state!
Read full story here - Denver Post, 09.01.17

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