by Rob Upham
In my past, I was Director of Human Resources for a local zoo; a wonderful job. Guests came by the thousands each year to enjoy a day with friends and family and to improve their understanding of and appreciation for the natural world.
I gave that job up to try life in the Caribbean. After a few years, the pull of New England was too strong and I returned to the area. After several interviews, I was offered my current job as Director of Human Resources at Crossroads.
I accepted, but with trepidation. I had worked at a "happy" place - a place where people wanted to be. What would it be like working for the state’s largest provider of services to the homeless? Who wants to be there? What would the employees be like?
Fortunately, it was a very short time before I realized what a wonderful staff Crossroads has...
They are some of the kindest, most generous, and hardest working individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They are an incredibly diverse group who share an infectious dedication to our mission. Their hard, bright determination in the face of overwhelming challenges is inspiring.
I still can't believe my utter good fortune at landing in an organization where the values aren’t just words on a motivational wall hanging, but are put into practice in every decision made and woven so strongly into the policies and practices: an organization where our differences are not just tolerated, but celebrated.
Our three core values are Safety, Respect, and Effectiveness. I want to tell you a little bit about the fourth unwritten value: Fun.
The staff here take their jobs incredibly seriously, but we all know that a little fun builds a stronger team, helps us face daily challenges, and grows a healthy work environment where people are the best they can be. It also creates a closer relationship between leaders, managers, and employees.
Companies that integrate fun into work culture have lower levels of absenteeism, greater job satisfaction, increased productivity and less down time. Doesn’t that sound like something we should all be striving for?
In Karen Santilli's recent blog post, she posed the question, "Why?" I'd like to continue that chain of thought with the question, "How?"
How will Crossroads Rhode Island accomplish its mission to help homeless or at-risk individuals and families secure stable homes? In part, by hiring people who:
- believe in transforming lives to their fullest potential.
- understand, but are not crippled by, the complexity of homelessness.
- have a passion for creatively solving complicated issues.
- can put the mission, vision and values of our organization into everyday practice.
We strive to hire and promote those who can motivate other staff to share the vision of homelessness ended one person, one family at a time, regardless of whatever issues those clients may have.
We provide our staff with a unique opportunity to work in an organization that builds a better community.
We all know that homelessness is a problem and our staff are the ones with "boots on the ground" to help those who are most vulnerable. And they do it safely, respectfully, effectively and often with a warm smile. Crossroads has an amazing staff and I am so proud to be a part of it.