This article is included in our Winter 2022 newsletter. Click here to view the entire newsletter!
2022 Strategic Goals
Each year, after months of planning and assessing, our organization puts forward our annual strategic goals. For 2022, we’ve streamlined our goals into three areas:
- Enriching employee experiences
- Building leadership infrastructure, and
- Developing sustainable service models utilizing creative staffing and funding sources.
So, what do these goals mean, and how will we go about achieving them? Let’s find out.
In each edition of our newsletter, we’ll have a conversation with Becky Sharp, Chief Executive Director of Open Door, who will share her thoughts on the progress our organization is making in a variety of areas.
In this edition, she talks with Andrew Stinson, Marketing Coordinator at Open Door, about the unique challenges 2022 brings as well as creative ways we can achieve our strategic goals.
Andrew: In previous years, we’ve had a long list of goals, but for 2022 we’ve condensed everything down to just three. Why the change for 2022?
Becky: Our strategic process starts back in July and August when we meet with departments. When we paired down the goals, the interesting thing is that all the departments aligned with those three categories. COVID has had an impact not just in a financial aspect but in its effect on staff and the ability for us to fill the shifts that we have. We’ve been having administrative staff working multiple hours on the weekends—everyone is doing their job to make that happen, and we felt like having all those different objectives were setting us up to not be able to accomplish everything throughout 2022. We decided this next year would be more about survival and resilience and getting through so we can make positive changes within the system.
Andrew: The first goal is “Enrich Employee Experiences.” Tell me a little bit about that.
Becky: One of the things that has come out of the COVID period was the quarterly bonus; it was apparent in the employee surveys that the bonuses really impacted their experience here. Not only keeping the bonuses, but also looking at the benefit package and enriching those. Looking at a discount program for staff that we just initiated for community businesses, looking at ways that we can possibly in the next year come up with housing options.
The other things that employees said in the surveys was that the responsiveness that occurred during the beginning of the pandemic needed to continue. That also means supporting them with supplies and delivering their mail instead of making them come to the corporate office. It’s about the overall experience the employee has from the moment they walk in the building. It’s important that they feel like we’re inspiring their life journey.
Andrew: Another key area—and a long-term goal—is to build leadership infrastructure. What do we plan on doing in 2022 to accomplish this goal?
Becky: Leadership development should always be a priority. Historically in our company, we’ve focused on the same people being here leading the ship, and not so much on that next level of succession planning and cross-training so that others are gaining the knowledge necessary to advance their own careers. So, this past year, we started our first leadership program. This wasn’t focused on tasks, but on self-development, reflection, and looking forward towards the future for new leaders to develop.
In 2022, we’re taking that to the next level, including the knowledge of advocacy, legislators, public policy, and how we can really impact change in our system. The other thing we’re building in the leadership program is everyone’s ability to publicly share their story and feeling confident enough to go down and ask for a meeting at the statehouse. It’s one thing for myself or other CEOs to go talk to them, but when they hear from DSPs and other people in the field, it has a larger impact.
Andrew: That all sounds great! How is our Board of Directors involved in building leadership infrastructure? What goals do we have for the board?
Becky: Our board is so critical to fundraising, governance, and supporting the infrastructure that it takes to really make change in our field. We want to put a focus on board recruiting; we have three potential seats that are open. We’re revising the bylaws because they haven’t been looked at in several years. It’s been apparent in our board’s self-assessments that we’d also like to diversify the board. We also want to give the individuals a voice by having an individual join the board. With all this, we’d like to have board training, development, and a lot more engagement in the overall objectives of the company.
Andrew: Now the third strategic goal is a little bit of a mouthful, I’ll admit! “Develop sustainable service models utilizing creative staffing and funding sources.” There’s a lot to unpack there.
Becky: Yes, there is! On the service model side, we built the system on ‘whatever you need, you get.’ And what that meant was that any issue or concern that arose, we would add additional staff to solve the problem. The issue now is the workforce does not allow for that, and we’re setting ourselves and the individuals we support up for failure.
We need to start from the least restrictive ways to do services. For instance, technology, which we’ve been able to implement successfully in some of the homes. This technology doesn’t mean that staff are removed from their life, but there are times during the day when technology could support the individual to be more independent through an iPad, assisted devices, or through medication machines that dispense or remind folks to take their medication.
Andrew: So, this would eliminate the need for staff to be present in the homes in some situations.
Becky: Right. For example, if someone had a behavior 30 years ago where they played with the stove—and that’s the only reason they have staff in the home—there are assistive stove devices now that alert everybody when that’s an issue. So just looking at creative assistive technology and creative staffing will allow more funding for the individuals to do things they want to do when they want to do them; without always being dependent on staff schedules. And in the homes where we were able to successfully implement the technology, the individuals’ independence has increased to the point where others are saying, “how can we do this?” What we’re looking at now is reserving the people aspect for the things that require people, like personal care and transportation.
Andrew: You met recently with Governor DeWine. Did any of these topics come up during the meeting?
Becky: Yes, during our meeting with the Governor folks were talking about developing programs to help individuals get their own driver’s licenses. And, wow, wouldn’t that be cool if some individuals could transport themselves in the community to wherever they wanted to go? Also, we talked about smart homes and using the technology that we have now, like Ring doorbells, instead of having staff there just because they let strangers in the house. That could be controlled with technology instead of a person. People think it’s just a camera staring at you, but not necessarily. It’s all those things that can be done by a device to replace what the DSP would do for that individual.
Andrew: And we’re looking into creating an app as well, is that correct? In what ways could that help?
Becky: At first, I was a little hesitant to explore it! After talking to many younger folks and some folks who have retired, I saw that they’re seeking work-life balance and they want to connect with who they’re working with in a different way. They all said an app would be a wonderful thing: An app where folks could upload their training and credentials and be able to work for multiple providers.
Let me give you an example. One of our individuals loves to go bowling on Saturdays. Say we have someone in the community who signs up on the app, gets their training on there, and says ‘oh, I’d love to take this person bowling from 11-3 on Saturday.’ They can sign up to work that shift, and the provider can approve or disapprove of the person. They would be a subcontractor as opposed to a full-time staff. The other cool thing we’re hoping to have happen is a system to rate that staff, so they’re rewarded for picking up that shift and doing a good job. We would be able to pay more if we’re not paying benefits to those folks.
Andrew: That seems like it could be an attractive option for our organization, our staff, and the individuals we support.
Becky: And other professions already do this sort of thing. Baristas have an app, nannies have one, substitute teachers have one. We’re the only field, I think, that’s behind the curve on that.
Andrew: Is there any potential downside to having DSPs be contracted instead of working as a full-time employee?
Becky: The downside comes when someone is routine-oriented and wants consistent staffing. However, right now consistent staffing isn’t happening anywhere across the state because we don’t have enough humans to fill all the shifts. What it comes down to is this: The workforce crisis has accentuated the fact that we must do business differently. And coming up with creative solutions to these challenges is the best way to weather the storm and achieve all our strategic goals in 2022.