​By Philip Reed

On July 17, WAPA held its annual Inclusion, Innovation and Technology Summit at the Rocky Mountain regional office in Loveland, Colorado.

The event was streamed to each of WAPA’s regions, with teams across the organization’s 15-state footprint participating in the innovation challenge.

The innovation challenge is a popular event during which teams work together for several hours straight to address one real-world challenge WAPA faces. They then present their solutions to a panel of judges who select a winner.

This year’s winning innovation was NED, a New-Employee Dashboard innovated by a multidisciplinary team consisting of Lynn Hahn, Lisa Hansen, Carlene Marcotte, Matt McClory, Christopher Powell, Mike Prowatzke, Ryan Scrivner, Andrea Severson, Wendy Short and Tonya Spencer.

The team described NED as a way to use Microsoft SharePoint—a web-based platform that is already in use WAPAwide—to manage the new-employee onboarding process.

Supervisors would begin using NED as soon as a position becomes vacant. NED automatically generates a to-do list for the employee and all support staff involved in onboarding. This will ensure that necessary actions are completed in a timely fashion and not overlooked or neglected. It will also help to determine the necessary equipment, permissions and training. 

The items included on this to-do list would be determined based on a variety of factors, such as the employee’s duty station, the employee’s department or program and whether the employee is federal or a contractor.

NED could be used to track activities and tasks throughout the pre-employment process, through the employee’s first year and even, potentially, throughout their entire WAPA career.

The team also suggested developing a consistent, in-depth training program for all staff members involved in the onboarding process to ensure that everyone involved in the process understands their role and knows key information and contacts for the new employee. Suggestions included Automated Time Attendance and Production System training for each new employee, and training for Human Resources to avoid temporary loss of benefits for employees transferring from other federal organizations.

In addition to NED, the team determined other ways for WAPA to improve its onboarding process. These suggestions include a standardized WAPA 101 training to introduce the organization’s mission, core values and other important information within the first week of employment.

WAPA could also appoint ambassadors who have worked for the organization for a substantial period of time. The ambassadors will be able to point a new employee to the right resources throughout the first year at WAPA.

New employees could also be assigned to a designated benefits counselor to help navigate the options available to them and make the choices that will best meet their needs. They could also have a one-on-one meeting with a representative from Human Resources on their first day.

Additionally, the NED team suggested a survey employees could complete about their onboarding process, which would help identify gaps and allow the program to evolve to better meet the needs of new employees.

In addition to generating solutions to the challenges WAPA faces, the innovation challenge reminded its participants of the value of collaboration.

“This exercise really did show that inclusion leads to innovation,” Hahn reflected. “We had a group of employees diverse in age, gender, job duties, tenure, pay grade and areas of expertise. Diversity really does make us smarter, but we have to be inclusive to take advantage of that diversity.”

​Reed is a contractor under the Wyandotte contract.

Last modified on September 12th, 2023