Medium Business WPE: Humane Society
Amid barking and meowing of the furry residents of the Humane Society of Yuma was the sound of laughter from the employees. Despite struggling with a new computer system recently, the employees were smiling and working like “true professionals in every sense of the word,” said Sheryl Baxter, a kennel technician, in a form nominating the agency for a Workplace Excellence Award.
Thanks in part to Baxter's passionate letter praising the office staff, patrol division, adoption counselors and kennel technicians, the Humane Society of Yuma (HSOY) was presented with the first-place award in the Medium Business category.
Baxter commended management and her fellow employees for their dedication and professionalism, particularly this past year. While dealing with numerous animal cruelty cases, HSOY took a fresh approach to a decades-old feral cat and stray dog problem when it opened an offsite low/no-cost spay and neuter clinic. The center not only shaped the prickly animal control issue, but it also reinforced the employees' confidence in their role.
“This has made a tremendous impact on our staff — as they watch their organization truly become the hope for Yuma's homeless pets and feral cat population,” said Shawn Smith, HSOY executive director. “It's an exciting time to be an employee at the Humane Society of Yuma when you know you're making a difference.”
Smith and the HSOY management team know the difference satisfied employees make. So management recruits, trains and retains employees who share a deep respect for animals. It also has increased compensation — in some roles as much as 50 percent — and as a result, the turnover rate has plunged from 50 percent to just 5 percent.
“Taking care of the pets coming to our shelter is our mission,” said Smith. “But taking care of the people who perform our mission is a top priority.”
But for the employees who carry out HSOY's duty, the work unfortunately isn't only about tail-wagging and purring. “There is a very sad and tragic aspect of life here at our shelter,” admits Smith.
Because of the reality of animal control, the management strives to create a pleasant work environment for their valuable personnel. One of the most popular programs is the sought-after Employee of the Month award that comes with not only the reserved parking spot but also a gift certificate to a local restaurant. And there's the low-cost gym membership and a free yearly pet adoption policy for employees.
HSOY recently broke ground on a new $3 million facility that will include staff office space, a spay and neuter clinic with a veterinarian office, a private room for families to meet quietly, a memorial garden and a bark park for dogs.
Despite the anticipation surrounding the brand new facility, Baxter says the team, not the office décor, is what truly matters.
“You don't need fancy to be productive and care for one another. We are family.”
— By Molly Blake, Special to Yuma Sun