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How I/DD Providers Can Improve Staff Communication During COVID-19

April 29, 2020 | Cari Rosenberger

How IDD Providers Can Improve Staff Communication During COVID-19Communication is one of the foundational pillars of increasing employee engagement and ensuring the highest in quality care and service to your clients. And in times of uncertainty, it becomes even more essential to not only ensuring the success of your organization, but more importantly, the safety of your staff and clients.

Government mandates and the rules of social distancing have many of us working further and further apart from each other. This means providers need to be creative and consistent if they want to keep staff engaged and informed during these uncertain times.

Here are some simple ways residential I/DD and group home providers can stay connected in a crisis.

Go Virtual & Keep The Camera On

You’re likely already using a tool like GoToMeeting, Zoom or RingCentral to conduct virtual meetings with your administrative staff and leadership teams. Be sure to incorporate these tools when you check in with frontline staff as well.

Weekly team meetings can all be conducted using these virtual meeting tools, as can regularly scheduled one-on-ones. A good rule of thumb? Make it a rule that everyone keep their cameras on. Having a virtual face-to-face is a great way to feel more connected.  

If you aren’t already conducting regular one-on-ones with your staff, now is a great time to start. Additionally, make sure your employees, particularly your DSPs, know how they can reach you outside of previously scheduled meetings. Whenever possible, use free video chat tools like Skype or FaceTime in lieu of traditional phone calls or text messages.

Check In Often & Provide Real-Time Updates

In uncertain times, organizations must have a way to regularly check in with staff and provide important updates around policies, shift needs, etc. This is particularly true for those providing residential services in either a facility or group home setting who may have staff spread across a variety of locations.

Regularly hearing from leadership can just be comforting for employees. It assures them that their efforts are recognized and that higher ups and managers are thinking of them. These communications don’t have to be complex. A simple message letting your DSPs know how much you appreciate their dedication during this time can go a long way in increasing employee engagement.

Some updates are best delivered in real time. This would include things like schedule changes, shift notifications and important safety policy changes.

Communication tools, such as those found in OnShift Schedule, make it easy to deliver these messages to your entire staff, including frontline workers. With just a click of a button, you can share important updates, as well as shift notifications via text message to your staff.

Ask How You Can Help

Client safety and wellness is your top concern. But you can’t achieve the level of care and service your clients deserve without a stable, engaged staff. That’s why it’s vital to the success of your organization to constantly check in with your employees and see how you can help.

Employee engagement software like OnShift Engage helps organizations keep a pulse on the satisfaction of their staff, while also giving them the ability to create custom surveys to identify concerns.

During the COVID-19 crisis, OnShift customers are using these custom surveys to gauge their employees' feelings on the situation, receive feedback on training and preparation for the pandemic, as well as to gather feedback on potential shift changes or current policies.

Regularly gathering feedback not only helps fulfill your staff’s expectations that they deserve to have a voice in the workplace but also allows you to identify potential issues before they become a larger problem. Taking actions on the concerns of your staff also shows you’re listening and that you truly care about the wellbeing of your employees.

Find Time To Recognize Contributions

Employee recognition can go a long way in boosting employee engagement anytime. But during times of crisis, these reminders that their contributions matter and make a difference are essential in helping your staff get through their day.

The job of a DSP is always demanding. But during COVID-19, these demands have been extended to ensuring the safety and wellness of their clients on an entirely new level. Additionally, they are putting their own wellness at risk while providing for others.

OnShift Engage automatically rewards staff for their contributions and systematically assigns points based on key activities such as clocking in and out on time, attending their shifts and tenure. Additionally, managers and supervisors can assign points for those going above and beyond.

Managers can also send one-on-one messages to encourage staff to keep up the good work and show their support during these turbulent times.  

Many industry experts believe that the organizations who will be the most successful both during and after the COVID-19 crisis will be those who treated their employees well. Keeping in constant contact and working together even when you can’t physically be together is a great place to start.

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About Cari Rosenberger

Cari Rosenberger is a Senior Portfolio Marketing Manager at OnShift.

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