For its comprehensive efforts to keep employees safe and informed through the coronavirus pandemic, California Water Service Group (Group) has been named the winner of a Silver Stevie® Award in the fifth annual Stevie Awards for Great Employers' Most Valuable Employer for COVID-19 Response category.
The Stevie Awards for Great Employers recognize the world's best employers. More than 700 nominations were submitted in 2020 for consideration in Human Resources-related categories, and this year, the organization added categories specific to coronavirus response efforts.
The utility earned this distinction for going above and beyond steps such as providing personal protective equipment, increasing cleanings, and offering additional time off that were expected of employers. Through its Emergency Operations Center and in collaboration with its unions, Group provided centralized support to the essential workers in its 22 California districts and regions in Hawaii, New Mexico, and Washington, with measures such as:
- Closing Customer Center lobbies to the public even before quarantine measures began
- Hosting daily Zoom check-ins for EOC team members and leaders of each department, district, and region; along with weekly calls with President and CEO Marty Kropelnicki and outside experts for all employees
- Supporting employees' mental and emotional wellness through customized employee "Context and Calm" presentations; "Upside," a weekly newsletter of things team members experienced to lift each other's spirits; its confidential, peer-to-peer Critical Incident Response Management team; and its professional phone counseling service
- Cross-training employees to learn different job functions and enhance their expertise, while supporting business continuity
- Securing industrial-sized toilet paper for each employee, as store shelves were empty
- Telling employees' stories publicly to support all of their work to keep customers' water safe and uninterrupted and to assist their communities
"The coronavirus pandemic reminded us of our shared humanity. We aren't a 'pipe' company; we are a 'people' company," Kropelnicki said. "We appreciate the Stevie Awards for recognizing the efforts we took to keep our essential workers safe and informed, so we could keep tap water flowing to our customers and continue providing quality, service, and value to our communities during this unprecedented time."