Mayor Chris Beutler today presented the Mayor's Award of Excellence for October to Dan Cain, Manager of the Workforce Investment Program of the Urban Development Department. The monthly award recognizes City employees who consistently provide exemplary service and work that demonstrates personal commitment to the City. The award was presented at the beginning of today's City Council meeting.
Cain has worked for the City since 1975, and is officially retiring Wednesday. Urban Development Director David Landis nominated Cain in the categories of customer relations and productivity for his outstanding leadership and management abilities. In the past year, Cain has managed a $1.8 million budget and supervised a staff of seven front-line workers who delivered employment and training programs to more than 300 clients.
For the past several years, meeting performance standards in the youth program has been particularly difficult for providers across the state to achieve. Staff members for all Lincoln, Omaha and outstate Nebraska providers have struggled to recruit and enroll young people who will follow through and successfully complete an education or job training component.
Cain observed that many young people would make their first one or two appointments and then stop. He decided to introduce a work ethics component to grab their attention and keep them working toward a goal. The component, based on the curriculum called "Bringing Your A-Game to Work," was introduced in June. It consists of seven critical habits needed by all workers - attitude, attendance, ambition, accountability, appearance, appreciation and acceptance.
Youth attend a monthly workshop and practiced the seven habits at their work sites. Cain recruited speakers to address each "A" including a supervisor from Parks and Recreation who spoke on attendance. Work site supervisors evaluate the young workers as they develop and demonstrate the seven habits on the job. The young people said they know the habits are important, but they weren't always sure how to develop them. One concept they do understand is branding, so staff worked with the youth to build their own brand. They become motivated to brand themselves as having a good attitude at work, showing up on time, being dressed appropriately for the job and demonstrating the other habits.
To make this happen, Cain adjusted the budget to buy materials, pitched the idea to staff, identified and trained a case manager and convinced work site supervisors of the value of the curriculum.
A comparison with the other two state areas shows the success of this program and Cain's overall efforts. Lincoln outperformed the Omaha and outstate areas by exceeding state standards for entered employment rates, employment retention rates and average earnings for adult participants.
Lincoln's success is especially apparent in the area of wages. Lincoln clients earned an average of about $35,000 annually. Omaha clients averaged about $23,000, and outstate clients averaged about $19,000. Another indicator of Cain's hard work came in September 2011 when Lincoln was included in a week-long Federal Comprehensive Review conducted by representatives from the Labor Department. The report issued in May cited 20 areas that required correction, but none of these were in Lincoln.
Landis said Cain's dedication to his job and his exemplary management skills have benefitted clients, employers and the entire community.
The other categories in which employees can be nominated are loss prevention, safety and valor. Consideration also may be given to nominations that demonstrate self-initiated accomplishments or those completed outside of the nominee's job description. All City employees are eligible for the Mayor's Award of Excellence except for elected and appointed officials. Individuals or teams can be nominated by supervisors, peers, subordinates and the general public. Nomination forms are available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: personnel) or from department heads, employee bulletin boards or the Personnel Department, which oversees the awards program.
All nominations are considered by the Mayor's Award of Excellence Committee, which includes a representative with each union and a non-union representative appointed by the Mayor. Award winners receive a $50 gift certificate, a day off with pay and a plaque. All monthly winners and nominees are eligible to receive the annual award, which comes with a $250 gift certificate, two days off with pay and a plaque.