U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander addresses workforce response to climate survey

WIESBADEN, Germany – From his office, Col. Mario Washington, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, answers questions about the COVID-19 vaccination rollout at the virtual workforce engagement meeting Jan. 22, 2021.

Col. Mario Washington, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, hosted a virtual workforce engagement meeting to review the garrison’s climate survey and answer community questions Jan. 22, 2021.

The one-hour meeting alternated between Col. Washington and German translators, making the meeting accessible to both the English and the German-speaking workforce. At the opening, he said, “I appreciate what everyone does every day; it does not go unnoticed. I am constantly impressed by the competency and thoughtfulness of this organization and how we put the community first.”

Washington reviewed the ten-question workforce climate survey with a series of shared slides. According to the results, the highest satisfaction response regarded seeking assistance for emotional support.

“Generally speaking, as with most large organizations,” Washington said, “the biggest issue was with communications flow; communication did not flow freely from senior leadership to all levels of the organization.” He also indicated there were gaps in counseling and developmental opportunities according to survey results.

“Military generally rated higher across all questions than the civilians,” he said. NAF and local national employees were the least satisfied for all areas of inquiry.

“The bottom line is, we have work to do,” he said at the conclusion of the workforce climate survey slides.

Washington outlined several initiatives underway to address the survey results. Command information strategies will make sure information gets distributed from the highest to the lowest levels of the organization. “It is important for everyone to understand why we are doing what we are doing,” he said.

“We just brought on board a workforce development chief with a focus being initially on local nations to make sure we pay attention to their development and their developmental opportunities, not just NAF and appropriated funds,” he said.

The garrison is also developing a workforce leaders’ focused summit according to Washington.

Washington went on to elaborate on his continued call for dignity and respect across the organization, even when situations are challenging. “It’s easy when it’s easy; impress me when it is hard,” he said.

“For me dignity and respect are not negotiable,” he stated. He said employees are accountable to standards; however, he said, employees who fall short of expectations can be treated with dignity and respect as they meet out the consequences of their shortcomings. “We can let them know they didn’t meet the standard with respect and dignity,” Washington said.

“If you have one take away, I would ask that you treat everyone you encounter with dignity and respect,” he said. “And, if you do not feel comfortable in your environment with your first-line supervisor or director, then please utilize our open-door policy.”

“I did read every question and every answer and talked with leadership and the community so we could take the feedback and make this organization better,” Washington said. “I appreciate everyone who took time out of their schedules to answer these questions because it is very important.”

Washington also discussed the COVID-19 vaccine and answered audience questions before concluding the session.

Approximately 200 people attended the virtual meeting. Many, including Martine Noble, a local national translating assistant, expressed gratitude for the commander’s time. She posted on the virtual chat, “We should do this more often.”