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Nearly one year after the Agriculture Department announced its intention to move two subcomponents to a new location outside of the national capital region, employees at last know where they may be packing bags.
USDA will relocate the majority of its employees at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to the Kansas City region, the department’s secretary, Sonny Perdue, announced Thursday morning.
The move to Kansas City will save government nearly $300 million over 15 years, Perdue said. The department expects it will save $19 million in staffing and rent costs as early as fiscal 2021.
Of NIFA’s 315 positions, 294 employees will relocate to Kansas City and 21 will remain in the national capital region. Of ERS’ 329 positions, 253 will relocate and 76 will stay in the Washington area.
Employees will receive their reassignment letters by the end of Thursday.
“I want to make sure that this transition and the coming months are as smooth and as minimally disruptive as possible,” Perdue said Thursday in a letter addressed to employees. “None of this reflects on the jobs being done by our ERS or NIFA employees, and in fact, I frequently tell my cabinet colleagues that USDA has the best workforce in the federal government. These changes are more steps down the path to better service to our customers and will help us fulfill our informal motto to ‘do right and feed everyone.'”
The first 100 ERS and NIFA employees are expected to move to Kansas City by Aug. 1, with an additional 200 scheduled to relocate a month later, USDA said in its cost benefit analysis. All 644 positions are expected at the new location by Sept. 30.
Yet USDA hasn’t named a specific site in the Kansas City region where it expects to position an ERS-NIFA building. The department said Thursday it will work with the General Services Administration to secure a permanent lease space through a competitive process in the Kansas City region.
Perdue said GSA will solicit proposals for a specific site in the region around July 1.
“Interested parties based upon on those who are able to fulfill the specifications will have the opportunity to submit proposals to the General Services Administration,” he told reporters Thursday afternoon. “They will then ascertain the different value levels of those proposals and make the best choice for the venue that we need to be in.”
No ERS or NIFA employee will be involuntarily separated, though most will have to move to keep their jobs. Employees can choose not to relocate, but unless their positions are slated to remain in D.C., they will lose employment with USDA. The department said it will offer relocation assistance to employees who relocate. Employees will receive the same base pay but a new locality pay rate for Kansas City.
Notably, USDA won’t move forward with its original plan to realign ERS under the Office of the Chief Economist. Perdue said he made the decision to keep ERS where it is under USDA’s research, education and economics mission after hearing feedback from members of Congress and other stakeholders.
“It was important for me that employees were the first to hear of this news and that you heard from me personally,” Perdue said in his letter to employees.
Perdue and other USDA leadership met with ERS and NIFA employees Thursday to discuss the decision and next steps. He reiterated many of the comments he made in his letter to employees and acknowledged the workforce had likely been feeling a lot of stress since USDA first announced its intention to relocate last August.
“I understand this is a real time, immediate and major change for many of you,” Perdue said in the all-hands meeting with employees Thursday afternoon.
When Perdue began to speak, a group of about a dozen employees stood up and turned their backs to him. Several dozen more remained in their seats in the audience.
The department said it will begin offering sessions with HR specialists and small groups of employees starting next week. It will host “experts” from the Kansas City region later in June, who can answer employees’ questions about schools, housing and other program in the area.
Employees’ families can attend these optional sessions as well, said Scott Hutchins, USDA’s deputy assistant secretary for administration.
Employees who decide to relocate can use a “concierge” service, which USDA will offer to help employees find housing, schools and child care service for their families.
USDA employees can move as early as July, Hutchins said. The department already has a building in the region, which Perdue said would serve as a temporary space for ERS and NIFA until USDA can finish the leasing the process.
“We possibly could make space up to receiving 200 employees in the near term,” Perdue told reporters. “We know that some families who decide to relocate want to get there ahead of school starting and those kinds of things. While we would like for our employees to report by Sept. 30, they can do so earlier if that fits their conveniences.”
Thursday’s all-hands meeting lasted 20 minutes.
“I want to thank, again, the workforce of ERS and NIFA for their professionalism [and] the jobs they do. Some have expressed displeasure with this as you might expect, and that’s understandable.”
The final USDA relocation decision comes after the department received 136 expressions of interest back in October. It contracted with Ernst and Young to evaluate the proposals. The department in May unveiled a final three locations, which included the Kansas City region and multiple sites in Indiana and the North Carolina research triangle region.
USDA conducted site visits to the final locations and used a variety of criteria to choose Kansas City as its top choice, Perdue said. It cited Kansas City’s average commute time, affordable housing market and access to other agricultural industrial areas as top reasons for its choice.
The department also received a variety of incentives packages from regions who had expressed interest in hosting the USDA relocation. It didn’t provide many specifics but suggested Kansas City’s offer was the largest and totaled close to $26 million.
USDA’s final site selection came two days after employees at NIFA overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to form a collective bargaining unit with the American Federation of Government Employees. ERS employees voted back in May to form a bargaining unit. AFGE Local 3403 received official certification from the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
Prior to USDA’s announcement Thursday morning, the ERS local issued a lengthy statement that denounced the process by which the agency’s employees were informed of the final site selection — and of the relocation itself.
The union said ERS managers and employees learned from the press that a final site selection announcement would be made.
“Secretary Perdue has stated that his rush to finalize the relocation is an attempt to limit the anxiety and burden on employees,” Kevin Hunt, acting vice president for AFGE Local 3403, said in a statement. “In reality, his announcement today will bring nothing but further burden to the agency with an acceleration of the loss of mission critical staff and senior leadership who cannot or will not move to a new location. Despite the assurance that the relocation is not an attempt to shrink the agency, ERS has been prevented from on-boarding new employees during this time of induced uncertainty.”
ERS, according to a June 5 letter from three Senate Democrats to Perdue and GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, has 66 open positions. NIFA has 88 vacancies, the senators said.
Nearly a dozen Senate Democrats have said they oppose USDA’s relocation, citing concerns with the department’s handling of the leasing process with the General Services Administration and impacts on the ERS and NIFA workforce.
Most notably, the House Appropriations Committee included specific language prohibiting the relocation in its 2020 spending bill, which it advanced to the full House a few weeks ago.
“Certainly Congress can do what Congress does, and we will respect that,” Perdue said when asked about members’ opposition and how USDA might respond if the legislative branch officially blocks relocation. “We’ve done our best to persuade Congress over our reasons and the benefits, and we’ll continue to do that. We obviously hope that Congress will recognize that this is a legitimate executive function.”
“We don’t, at USDA, try to tell Congress how to run their business, and hopefully we will be allowed to complete this move with minimal disruption,” he added.
Several members of Congress in the national capital region on Thursday expressed their opposition to the move.
“The experts at NIFA and ERS need a seat at the table as we work to ensure the food our families eat is safe, but the Trump administration wants to banish facts and science from policy decisions,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said in a statement.
Van Hollen introduced standalone legislation that would block the USDA relocation. He said Thursday he would offer the measure as amendment to the annual defense authorization bill this week.
But some outside the national capital region had a different perspective.
“This is a major win for the Kansas City region, and I’m pleased that Secretary Perdue was receptive to our calls to bring these agencies to America’s heartland where they can better serve the communities they were created for,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) said in a statement.
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There are a lot of milestones in one’s life that are so momentous they deserve a separate acknowledgement, for the person going through that milestone or achievement to take pride in and make an announcement to inform everyone about it. For some, it could be the announcement of an engagement, or an upcoming wedding. Proud parents will no doubt make an announcement about how their firstborn is celebrating his first birthday and, later, when the child earns an award or recognition at school.
In the workplace setting, there are also a number of events in one’s career that are worth talking about and, quite probably, the most obvious one is a promotion.
A promotion can mean a lot of things to an individual, depending on his priorities. It denotes a movement up the career ladder, leading the person a step (or a rung) closer to the higher position that he has been aiming for. Along with that rise is an elevation of his status or the esteem he gets from others in the workplace or in the industry.
A promotion is also seen as a means of improving one’s economic status, since it comes with a corresponding increase in his salary or benefits – both monetary and non-monetary. As his position in the company goes higher, so will the perks that will be given to him.
In contrast, the promotion may also mean a shift, transfer or transition, especially when the person will be promoted to a higher position in another office or department. He may find himself having to report to a different supervisor and working with different employees, in an entirely new environment. It is also a given that the promotion comes with more tasks and duties and, most definitely, heavier responsibilities.
A promotion is not something that affects only one person (the one who is promoted at work) or only one department of an organization or company. It also affects the people he will be working with in his new position, and those that he will be leaving behind in his old position, as they will try to find ways to cope without him, in the interval where the position he left remains vacant.
As such, there is a need to inform everyone – in a formal or official manner – about the promotion, and this is done through a promotion announcement.
An employee promotion announcement is exactly what the phrase describes: it is a formal document announcing the promotion of an employee. Actually, this document is basically in the form of a letter, which is why it is also often referred to as a “promotion announcement letter”.
In many cases, especially in small companies with a workforce numbering to around a dozen, news of promotions can be relayed in meetings, or by simple postings in bulletin boards. It becomes a different story when we’re talking about larger operations, or in bigger companies with a relatively bigger number of staff members. It is in these instances where making a formal announcement – in writing – is generally preferred.
The purpose of a promotion announcement letter is to provide information about a promotion and, in this particular case, there are two clear intentions in preparing this letter.
The rationale behind the second intention is simple, really. It is a common courtesy for the department or division where the employee is currently working in to be informed that one of their people will soon be moving out, so they can take proper corrective action to adjust to his absence without the work getting affected too much.
Those who are in the department that the employee will be moving into also deserve to be informed of the new addition to the staff, or even about the fact that they will have a new supervisor coming in. That way, they can prepare accordingly to accommodate the newly promoted employee, ensuring a smooth transition of work and responsibilities.
The use of a promotion announcement is applicable to all types of organizations where job promotions take place. Government offices make these sorts of announcements. Commercial and retail companies prepare announcements regarding promotions. Regardless of the nature of the organization, or its operations, composing employee promotion announcements are expected, and actually even encouraged.
Learn about why people are getting promoted.
Just as there are some things to be mindful of when writing other types of business letters and documents, there are also various considerations when coming up with an employee promotion announcement.
Depending on the culture and custom of an organization, a promotion announcement letter may take on various forms, including the content. It is a given that the name of the company and the date the letter is prepared appear on the face of the letter. Usually, the company name may appear in the form of the company logo or letterhead. However, there are other basic details and information that must be included in any promotion announcement.
A promotion announcement letter must have the following elements:
In other cases, the promotion announcement may also include the following:
Some tips when it comes to writing the content of the employee promotion letter:
There is one absolute rule with regards to the tone that the employee promotion letter should take: keep a professional tone throughout the letter.
It is all right to be congratulatory in the letter, especially if the promotion is something that management deems is well-deserved and long overdue. However, there has to be a clear line between making the letter sound too celebratory and too nonchalant about the promotion. It should strike a balance: be congratulatory, but keep it professional. Don’t go over the top, but don’t be too stingy with it, either.
What is the danger when this rule is not followed?
If the letter is too effusive in giving its congratulations, other employees may interpret it as indicative of management’s favoritism, so they will be inclined to think that the promotion was made with a skewed or biased view. Some employees may end up feeling envious or jealous of the newly promoted employee, resulting to tension or strain at work and, worse, affecting how they will work together.
If, on the other hand, the letter is too sparing in offering congratulations to the point that it comes across as too glib or non-committal, it takes away the excitement of the promotion. For many employees, a promotion is a special event and definitely something to celebrate, and for the news to be handed out coldly or without feelings, that would totally defeat the very essence of an employee promotion announcement.
Here are some more tips when dealing with the tone of the promotion announcement.
There are some instances where preparers of the promotion announcement take liberties with the tone. For example, a relatively small company addressing the announcement to the members of the organization or of a specific team within the company may opt to adapt a slightly informal tone. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as it doesn’t go over the top and start sounding overly enthusiastic.
At the end of the day, the tone of the employee promotion announcement will largely depend on the recipient. However, it is important to never lose sight of the fact that it ought to remain professional to a certain extent, which means that the variability will be limited to the degree of formality that will be injected into the overall tone of the announcement letter.
Whether the promotion announcement is delivered through a physical letter on paper or through email sent via the company’s local area network, the formatting should stick to the basic rules of business letter writing.
Formatting is still required even if the announcement is to be transmitted electronically, via e-mail or the company’s internal network message board, if any.
Prior to submitting it for final signature and delivery to the recipient, or even release to the press for publication, make sure to proofread the announcement letter for spelling and grammar. It never hurts to repeatedly do a spell and grammar check, since it will ensure the quality and integrity of the announcement letter.
The internet provides a wealth of sources for those who are looking for templates or samples of promotion announcements. There are even downloadable templates that require you to fill in the blanks, do a bit of customization, then you’re done!
The employee promotion announcement may be as long or as short as management, the Human Resource Manager, or any key personnel tasked to write it wants it to be, for as long as the basics are covered.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started.
To:InfoTech Staff and Clients
Subject:Promotion Announcement – Hugh Gough
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is with great pleasure that I am announcing the promotion of Hugh Gough as one of the new Marketing Directors of InfoTech.
Hugh has been with InfoTech for close to ten years, painstakingly climbing the ranks with his dedication and commitment to his work. Three out of those ten years were spent as a marketing manager, where he has shown exemplary performance, as shown in the annual sales and customer retention reports.
Hugh has always shown initiative in the performance of his duties, even going above and beyond what is expected of him, in order to ensure that InfoTech delivers quality customer service while producing the expected outputs, well before their respective deadlines. We expect this same level of dedication and commitment to be applied in his new position as one of the heads of the Marketing Department.
As a Marketing Director, Hugh will be more closely involved in the formulation of marketing plans, with particular focus on the two biggest projects of InfoTech – the Deuz Project and the highly anticipated MegaWide Project, a five-year undertaking expected to launch in the coming year. Of course, these are on top of any other concurrent marketing projects requiring his marketing expertise and leadership.
Let us all congratulate Hughon this promotion, and wish him luck for all his future undertakings.
Human Resources Manager, InfoTech
Subject Line:Hugh Gough, Marketing Director
We are pleased to announce the promotion of Hugh Gough as one of the new Marketing Directors of the Corporate Marketing and Communications department of InfoTech. Hugh joined InfoTech a little over ten years ago, holding positions in the Sales and Logistics Departments over his stint with the company.
Hugh brings his extensive expertise and experience in Sales, Advertising and Marketing to his new role in the Marketing and Communications Department, and we are excited to see where he will lead the department – and the company – in his new position.
Please join us in welcoming Hugh to the Marketing and Communications Department, and in congratulating him on the promotion.
Human Resources Manager, InfoTech
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When it comes to promoting an employee, you might have had to make some tough decisions, and rightly or wrongly some people might feel jealousy or resentment.
A promotion announcement done in the right way should quell those negative feelings and shed light on why the promoted employee deserves it.
There are two typical methods of announcing a promotion: by email or in person. The method that’s right depends on the size of your company/department. And, hey, you might want to use both means.
Before you choose a method, though, make sure you’re aware of the procedures and channels that your company usually goes through.
But before you send that all important email, make sure you’ve done these 4 essentials:
Perhaps the best method is to announce a promotion via email. An email is an official record of the announcement. And it gives employees a place to digest the news privately and come to terms with it (this is pretty useful if they were hoping for a promotion themselves).
It’s also natural that your employees are going to want to discuss this news (and they will). So make sure you list concrete reasons in your email which explain the promotion. This quells resentment or jealousy and prevents speculation and office gossip.
Now, with that aside, use the email to celebrate the employee’s achievement. This is a time to make them feel valued. Frame the promotion in a positive light and use the announcement to review their achievements, projects, and the successes where they’ve been integral.
In your email, you should:
So, if you want to know what a good (albeit formal) email looks like, here’s one I just made up. If your culture has personality, inject some in.
It is pretty formal, so if you have a relaxed company culture, inject some personality in. Do what’s right for you – just make sure you’ve said everything you need to.
I’m pleased to announce the promotion of Harry Fitzpatrick as our new Head of Development. Harry has worked for our company for eleven years and has been an invaluable member of the development team.
He has brought huge levels of innovation and been a valued member since his early days as a graduate to his move into management. Harry has been highly influential in the creation of our new product line and has continued to show an exemplary commitment to his role as an innovator and manager.
During his time in the development team, Harry has led three huge projects to completion and has been at the forefront of moves to streamline the process of product development as well as implementing systems to coordinate with marketing. In his new role, he’ll take the sole lead in coordinating and communicating with marketing to push our new range of products. He will also take over the duties of Ron Grundy who as we know is retiring in three months’ time.
For any queries about what Harry’s new position might mean in terms of your working relationship, please don’t hesitate to direct any of your questions to me.
I hope you’ll all join me in congratulating Harry on his outstanding performance and wishing him the best of luck in his future position.
If you have a regular department meeting, you might want to take that opportunity to inform your staff. This should be brief and follow a similar format to how you might inform employees via email.
So, if that email was a promotion announcement, it might sound a little something like this:
“Before we all get on, I have an announcement that I’m delighted to make. I’m very happy to inform you that Harry Fitzpatrick, our current Development Manager, has been promoted to the position of Head of Development.
This well-deserved promotion comes following his management of three phenomenally successful projects and the triumph of his implementation project that helped increase coordination and communication between our department and marketing.
I’ll be sending an email round this afternoon that includes more details about the promotion.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in finding time this week to congratulate him. And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me or come talk to me in my office.
After you’ve made an announcement in person, it’s still good to follow it up in an email and add more details there.
When or if you make the announcement in person, look out for negative behaviour. It might be a good idea to schedule one to ones with anyone who you feel might have concerns. But don’t do this in front of everyone!
A promotion is a goal that employees work extremely hard for. And the promotion of one employee can create resentment and jealousy in others. Getting the announcement right can ease these feelings and reinforce the idea that in your business those who work hard achieve their careers goals. Get it wrong and you could foster office gossip and bitter colleagues.
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