Company: University of the Rockies
Innovation: Thriving through Change
Award Recognition: Honorable Mention

In the fall of 2011, the university was faced with a decision that dramatically impacted its culture. Over half of the employees were asked to relocate. The president and her entire leadership team chose to make the move along with approximately 40 percent of the employees. As a result, the Office of Diversity was faced with a cultural divide between those who were moving, those who were not moving, and new employees who were needed to grow the team.

Managing a cultural shift in the midst of rapid growth and change proved to be exciting and significant to the university. The first step was to celebrate who they were as an institution. Their innovation was ROCKtoberfest. The goal was to build engagement by starting a new tradition in the midst of change. It was entitled ROCKtoberfest to honor the university’s history, the strength of the team, and to mark a future with many celebrations to come.

Spearheaded by a team of committed internal volunteers, they developed a successful, simple model for interaction, quality improvement, and institutional success. In 2012, ROCKtoberfest was held in their new facilities. The theme for the event was their home state of Colorado. Plans are underway for a 2013 celebration.

The focus on employee engagement continued with community service projects, mix-it-up lunches, continued mandatory diversity training and the development of an internal portal for information exchange (housing, best places to eat, fun events, and departmental news).

To measure the results of the change on its culture, the university conducted the Gallup Engagement Survey, which showed a strong commitment to the university and to its mission.

A simple solution has helped to build engagement, satisfaction, and commitment to diversity. Attendees share stories about the value of the connections that have formed as a result of the move, the new bonds that they have made, and the impact that the Office of Diversity activities have had on the culture and employee engagement.