If you are a fan of the science fiction thriller The Matrix, you might think when I mention NEO I am referring to the protagonist played in the movie by Keanu Reeves. While I enjoyed the film, both the cinematography and plot, NEO on my calendar does not refer to the One who will bring peace to the Matrix. But, it is one event that brightens my week!
NEO is the Human Resources abbreviation for New Employee Orientation. I make it a priority to participate in all of our NEOs. Pre-COVID, I would try and arrive at the HR Conference room early and talk with our new employees individually where they were sitting. But with our Zoom NEO, I have incorporated these individual discussions into my welcome with them. The consequence of this has been that Mary Ransier, who heads up the NEO with the HR team, has had to expand the time for my welcome from 10 to 45 minutes!
But I think the time is well spent. I ask each new employee to share their answers to three questions: Where are you from? What were you doing before coming to work for Pierce County? And, why did you choose to come to join the Pierce County family? Their answers tell me a lot about them, our recruiting efforts, and our reputation. AND they get to hear each other’s answers, too.
Each group is a little different, but this week was representative. We had 13 new employees working for eight different County departments. They came from Colorado, Alaska, Illinois, California, Texas, Vermont, New York, Maine, Whatcom County, Spokane, and Pierce County! Six had significant private sector or non-profit experience. Four were veterans: two Marines, one Army and one Coast Guard. Only two came directly from working for another county, but another seven came from “non county” governments doing similar work.
Four new deputies came from the Seattle Police Department – but two of them live in Boney Lake, one in Gig Harbor. So, they shortened their commutes and serve in the county where they live! Most came because of Pierce County’s reputation as an employer, two were encouraged by their friends, some came for promotions or additional pay. One had recently retired from Central Pierce Fire and others were very new in their careers.
Once our newest employees are done sharing, I talk about the critically important work we do on behalf of our community and why it is even more important in a pandemic. I share our five values – Integrity, Accountability, Partnership, Respect, and Innovation. I give them examples of how you have been exemplifying these values and help them appreciate the team that are joining. Candidly, I must be careful with my stories or I run significantly over my time!
I then finish my remarks by sharing how seeing them and listening to their stories encourages me. We are adding a strong new group of diverse employees to our family. I know you will enjoy working with them – they will make us better and help us serve our community even more effectively!
Finally, I want to close with a sincere thank you to our recently retired Sheriff Paul Pastor. Sheriff Pastor has been the longest serving Sheriff for our community. He helped lead our community and the PCSD through some of our darkest times, like the murder of the Lakewood Four and the losses of Deputies Kent Mundell, Daniel McCartney, and Cooper Dyson. He was a leader who showed compassion, empathy, and humor. I have known Paul for many years before I was elected Executive.
Thank you for your service to the people of Pierce County, Paul. Fair winds and following seas.