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May 13, 2002

Emory hits the mark as 'choice' employer

By Michael Terrazas


For some time, Emory has been one of the largest employers in the Atlanta area, but for Human Resources, that’s not enough: They aim to help keep the University one of the city’s best employers.

With an eye toward enhancing Emory as an “employer of choice,” HR continues to design and modify development programs to help employees improve their skills without having to leave campus. From new managers looking to get a head start on supervisory skills to employees working to earn their general equivalency degree (GED), there are programs to help at 1762 Clifton.

“We want a workplace where people want to come work with us and want to stay with us,” said Sharon DeHaven, manager of training and development. “An ‘employer of choice’ is one to whom employees have loyalty, speak well of, and recommend to others.The slogan of our employee referral program—‘Find An Original’—reflects the stature of our own employees.”

The referral program’s success is reflected in the statistics: There have been more than 700 hires in the last four years as a result of Emory employees referring people they know.

Emory won successive Governor’s Awards for its literacy training that became the foundation for the Skills Enhancement Program (SEP). The SEP consists of Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) course offerings. Program Development Specialist La Shanda Perryman has coordinated these twice-weekly classes since being hired more than two years ago, and this semester she is teaching 10 of the 12 classes being offered.

After last fall, Perryman said, the decision was made to create classes by educational level, resulting in smaller classes that catered more to the individual students. “In the past, it was sort of like ‘The Little House on the Prairie,’ with all the levels together in one classroom,” Perryman said. “By breaking up the classes we can offer more targeted instruction based on need. And we’ve probably increased the number of participants by about 50 percent.”

Three Emory employees have earned their GEDs during Perryman’s tenure, and another earned a high school diploma. Chauncey Brown, who works in staging for Facilities Management (FM), earned his GED in March 2001.

“The thing I liked about it was that La Shanda worked with each individual at their own speed,” said Brown, who has also taken University courses as a student in special standing. “Emory gave me the opportunity to get my education, and I think others should take advantage of the opportunity.”

One new offering is a conversational Spanish course for employees who want to communicate better with Spanish-speaking colleagues. DeHaven said two such classes have been offered—one for FM supervisors and one at the Yerkes Field Station—and three more will be offered this year.

In January, the 5-year-old “Frontline Leadership” received a makeover and a new name: “Leadership for Results.” The program provides training to better enable managers and supervisors to provide a meaningful and productive work environment.

“This is a new and improved version [of Frontline Leadership],” DeHaven said, explaining that the program contains both management principles as well as Emory-specific policy and procedures. The program is being conducted on the main campus and at the Oxford and Briarcliff campuses. There have been more than 200 participants since the program’s rebirth at the beginning of the year.

“Supervisors play an instrumental role in employee job satisfaction,” said Aimee Harris, call center supervisor at Crawford Long Hospital and a recent Leadership for Results participant. “This program helped me to understand how I can be more effective.”

Human Resources has also begun offering a class entitled “HR Toolkit” that is designed as an overview of human resources practices and procedures for those with HR responsibilities.

All of these programs are offered in addition to long-running HR courses such as business writing, time management, telephone techniques and others.

“That’s what keeps us an employer of choice,” DeHaven said. “It’s our focus on developing people at Emory, it’s our focus on enhancing the workplace for the entire Emory community.”

“It’s about fostering an inclusive workplace,” said Alice Miller, vice president of Human Resources. “We value all of our employees, and we are offering progressive and responsive HR programs for them. We are striving to stay an employer of choice.”

For more information on HR development programs, visit or call Sharon DeHaven at 404-727-0413.