Staffing Management

2019 Optimas Award Winners for Partnership

By Francesca Mathewes

Oct. 28, 2019

The Partnership award recognizes organizations that have developed or implemented a program in partnership with another constituency, either within the organization or outside of it. Here are the winners for 2019:

Gold: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a nonprofit conservation organization based in Columbus, Ohio. It aims to lead and inspire in connecting people and wildlife.

Its facilities include a zoo, water park, safari park and golf course, employing about 2,000 people each year. Its Edge Program initiative partners with the Ohio Department of Education and the governor’s office to recruit high school students to work at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

“The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is very proud of the partnership with the Ohio Board of Education and being one of the pioneer employers to assist with this very important initiative. We are delighted to offer Ohio high school students an opportunity to develop job readiness skills,” said Carman Wirtz, senior vice president of human resources.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium does this by specifically filling a mentorship requirement in the Readiness Seal, a formal designation that high school students can earn on their diploma by demonstrating the professional skills that are required for success in the workplace. The Edge Program sets up supervisors with students that work together every day, and are responsible for providing feedback on a variety of readiness skills.

Throughout their employment with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, students in the Edge Program will receive feedback and at the completion of 300 hours of work, have official forms signed and submitted to their high school. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium seeks to be not only a partner in fulfilling requirements for the Readiness Seal, but active partners in developing the skills and eventually the careers of young people in the state of Ohio. For its partnership with the Ohio Board of Education and commitment to educational and community development, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the 2019 Optimas Award Gold winner for Partnership.

The Columbus zoo and Aquarium is very proud of the of the partnership with the Ohio Board of Education.

~Carman Wirtz, senior vice president of human resources

Silver: DPI Specialty Foods

DPI Specialty Foods is a specialty food distributor, supplying perishable and non-perishable food products across five continents in varying temperature ranges. DPI also provides sales and other services to food providers, retailers and independent operators across the United States.

Through its partnership with Ceridian’s Dayforce human capital management system, DPI was able to achieve higher levels of consistency, transparency and reliability from recruitment through onboarding and retention. This partnership has streamlined numerous DPI Specialty Foods’ processes, particularly onboarding, as well as collecting data-driven insights and providing more visibility to employees to create a more connected, engaged and satisfied workforce.

For this partnership, DPI Specialty Foods is the 2019 Optimas Award Silver winner for Partnership.

Go here to read about the rest of the Optimas winners for 2019.

Francesca Mathewes is an editorial associate for Workforce.

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