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Driving improvements in engagement and culture through regular listening: A case study of Allity

Allity is a large, private aged care organisation, recently recognised with the ‘highly commended award’ in Voice Project’s 2019 Change Challenge Awards. In just one year, Allity have seen noticeable improvements in several key practices and employee engagement, leading to a significant reduction in staff turnover. This is a fantastic achievement particularly given their 4,400 strong workforce and the challenges the sector has been facing, such as growing demand and complexity of client’s needs, increasing consumer choice and control driven by the shift to Consumer Directed Care, and the Royal Commission into aged care quality and safety. Although continuous improvement is always encouraged, these sector disruptions mean it is now crucial for aged care organisations to continually evaluate and improve internal and client-facing practices.

Feedback from employees, consumers and other stakeholders forms a key part of the evaluation. Through partnering with Voice Project, Allity have been regularly collecting feedback from staff through a combination of full and employee net promoter (eNPS) pulse surveys. This regular listening approach ensures employee engagement and culture remains top of mind and that timely, specific insights are shared and discussed to help them identify key priorities and plan actions accordingly. Allity reflected that the main contributors to their success in achieving change were:

  • Regular and planned communication – identifying and taking advantage of every opportunity discuss the changes as well as drawing links from the feedback received and the action taken since the first survey e.g., ‘You said X, they did X. You said Y, they did Y’.
  • Setting goals and building accountability – introducing ‘engagement’ as a key performance indicator for all Allity leaders, and recognising leaders for people related metrics such as sick leave, turnover, Your Voice and eNPS results.
  • Key stakeholder buy in and execution of their role and activities in the communications and engagement plan.
  • Local action plans to complement organisational initiatives - Planning sessions with General Managers in their Homes to validate their results and develop Home-based action plans including initiatives to address the feedback received and complement organisational initiatives.

What feedback did staff provide? What were the priorities?

Feedback from their first survey and previous opportunities to gather information spoke to the actions that were required:

The Senior Management team commenced a national road show to communicate the results and the areas of focus. They regularly communicated these focus areas and their progress throughout the year, e.g. national conference, quarterly residential meetings. They were also able to use their digital communications platform (see below) to provide regular updates against key areas of focus.

What steps did they take to address these priorities?

Allity consulted extensively with staff to identify solutions that would address a number of the opportunities.

1. Communication, Collaboration & Recognition

They implemented a digital communications platform solution that would enable employees and leaders to:

  • Say ‘thank you’ by sending themed e-cards to their peers that are aligned to Allity’s values
  • Communicate messages directly from senior management;
  • Offer benefits to employees and milestone awards recognising length of service; and
  • Communicate Allity’s employee value proposition directly to their employees

To introduce and generate excitement and account activations Allity created and implemented a communications and engagement plan with various strategies. For example, generating substantial marketing collateral, talking points for leaders at their team meetings/handovers and maildrop activities.

Allity also launched a Recognition Toolkit for leaders at this conference with sample tools and tips to assist leaders build a recognition rhythm in their teams.

2. Leadership & Management:

Allity consulted with General Managers to identify the skills, knowledge and attributes of a leader at Allity. They then created a ‘persona’ or profile for recruitment purposes which included a customised interview guide with behavioural based questions.

Training needs analysis was conducted to understand the gaps for current leaders in their ‘leadership and management’ capability. They then designed and piloted a formal leadership development program that supported leaders through a blended program of workshops, reading materials, behavioural assessments, project work and presentation to the Senior Management Team. In addition, they rolled out a pragmatic 1-day leadership module based on a framework enabling leaders to match their leadership style to the performance needs of the individual.
To improve connection with frontline each member of the senior leadership team shadowed a carer in one of their homes for a day to build relationships with employees at the Home level, understand what it is truly like on the front-line and to conduct updates while at the Homes.

3. Recruitment & Selection

As a starting point, Allity consulted with employees in the Carer, Registered Nurse and Care Manager roles to build candidate profiles including skills and ideal personality traits.

Steps were taken to increase support for recruitment & selection. They developed a recruitment toolkit for these roles (interview guides, online training) and expanded their Talent Acquisition team to assist leaders hire the right people. To improve effectiveness of recruitment practice, they introduced new online recruitment software to improve efficiency of and ensure adherence to reference checking processes. They introduced assessment centres for bulk recruitment such as carers and hospitality employees. They also developed an online recruitment training module which all Allity Leaders are required to complete before they can commence any recruitment.

To address the challenge of attracting the right people to work for Allity, they interviewed their People’s Choice Award winners on what it is like to work at Allity, and used these and other key messages and videos to revamp their Careers Page. To attract internal applicants and to promote career opportunities, they became more active in communicating role vacancies on Allity Central and their LinkedIn page.

What was the impact of these changes?

“The impact is both quantitative and qualitative”

Allity’s Engagement score has increased (+3%) as has their eNPS score (+12). They have also seen significant improvements in leadership (+7%), Recruitment & Selection (+14%), and Rewards & Recognition (+4%).

The introduction of Allity Central has been welcomed (employee activations over 80%) and brought numerous benefits. In addition to encouraging formal and informal recognition behaviours (e.g. average of 450 ‘thank you’ or acknowledgements per month), this platform also facilitates cross-unit collaboration and improves perceptions about career opportunities (both increased by approximately 10%) through enabling greater communication of role vacancies.

Turnover has been reduced by 3% in just one year and it is on track for a further reduction this year. Use of casual staff has also been reduced as a direct result of the recruitment focus. This is beneficial to the company in terms of cost control but it also brings continuity of care to consumers/residents.

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