APA Center for Organizational Excellence: National Winner

The Awards

Government/Military/Educational Institution Category

Arkansas Educational Television Network

Sending a Strong Signal to Employees

ArkansasArkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) produces public television programming designed to inform, educate, entertain, enlighten and inspire. Dedicated to promoting life-long learning and improving the lives of all Arkansas citizens, AETN counts its employees and their families among those it serves.

Click here to watch a video clip about the Arkansas Educational Television Network.

Employee Involvement

AETN encourages its employees to test new ideas, express opinions and participate in advancing the organization’s mission. Nearly every project and endeavor is approached as a team (see Tuning In to Teamwork). Monthly all-staff meetings serve as a forum in which employees can ask questions and discuss what’s going on within the organization. The network’s “Family Day” is a popular open-house event where the public is invited to join AETN at its studios for a day of games, tours, stories and food. Even when life isn’t all fun and games, AETN is there for the benefit of the public. In December 2005, the network hosted a telethon to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, with employees and members of the community rallying together to raise more than $43,000. Employees even threw a “housewarming” party for one Katrina evacuee who was hired as AETN’s full-time receptionist.

Health and Safety

Employees at AETN are given access to free Web-based programs to help them reach their weight, exercise and nutritional goals. As part of AETN’s employee assistance program, employees have 24/7 access to resources for dealing with stress, family and co-worker conflict and anger management, as well as financial issues and other concerns. Smoking cessation support awaits employees ready to kick the habit and includes three individual sessions or unlimited group sessions with no co-pay, pharmacotherapy, nicotine replacement options and a customized Web site with interactive services and user forums for 24-hour support. A newsletter containing helpful health tips is distributed along with employee paychecks to ensure that better health is always within reach.

Employee Growth and Development

AETN’s environment encourages professional creativity and growth. Orientation sessions provide new employees with training plans and detailed background information about AETN’s mission and values. All new employees are assigned a mentor to help them develop skills and competencies and learn how to successfully navigate the organization’s culture. AETN offers workshops that cover communication, management, government guidelines, computer software and technical skills. Employees have access to a Web portal that provides professional development training to teachers throughout the state on various software, Web and production techniques. AETN also encourages employees to continue their education by reimbursing tuition costs for job-related courses.

Work-Life Balance

Committed to its “Family First” philosophy, AETN offers flex-time, job sharing, compressed work week and telecommuting options that give employees flexibility to balance their work and personal lives. The network allows employees to bring their children to work on school breaks and encourages participation in activities such as video production, “Kids’ Technology Camp” and student art competitions. Other AETN sponsored events, such as academic competitions, musical performances, on-air pledge campaigns, political debates, informational call-in programs and atrium receptions and exhibits keep employees and their families engaged and entertained.

Employee Recognition

At its annual employee awards banquet, AETN recognizes outstanding group and individual efforts. Employees vote on award recipients, and each division is encouraged to recognize a project, person or team. The peer-selected “Employee of the Year” is nominated for the Arkansas State Employee Association’s “Outstanding State Employee of the Year Award.” The network’s quality management team created “Kudo Bucks” to recognize outstanding customer service. Through this program, employees receive a supply of blank Kudo Bucks that they fill in and give to co-workers at their discretion to recognize a job well done. At “KudoMarts” employees redeem their accumulated bucks for items that have been donated to the AETN Foundation.

The Bottom Line

With opportunities for self-expression, involvement and fun, AETN employees share a sense of ownership and take pride in their work. Family-friendly policies encourage employees to stay with the network, with many spending their entire careers at AETN. The average employee tenure exceeds 10 years, and almost half of employees have served between 10 and 35 years. If an employee’s health falters, he or she can feel confident knowing that co-workers have got it covered. In 2006, employees donated 2,038 hours of unused leave time, worth $44,583, to a catastrophic leave program for employees experiencing health crises.

While the network saves money on hiring and training new staff and benefits from the institutional knowledge and continuity of long-timers, employees are motivated to try new ideas and work hard to implement them. In 2006, AETN employees produced more than 500 hours of local programs, broadcast more than 8,700 hours, installed a new digital transmitter in southeast Arkansas and maintained state-wide infrastructures — accomplishments made possible by channeling their efforts and working together as a team.

"We have always known that the key to our success is the way we care about our fellow workers. Winning this award is a welcome confirmation that we are on the right track."

Ken Golder
Holiday Inn River Centre