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Inside Providence’s Program To Gather Feedback From New DSP Hires 

Submitted By: Karen Adams-Gilchrist, President/CEO, Providence of Maryland, Inc.

We are disappointed to learn of the resignation of a teammate for a reason we could have solved if we were aware of the issue. We hold ourselves accountable to decrease turnover by ensuring staff have the tools they need to be successful, have great experiences, and meet their expectations.   

The Touch Points program is an intentional effort from Providence of Maryland, Inc. to connect with new hires periodically in their first six months, from different levels in the organization. HR engages new hires on their first day of orientation to continue fostering excitement about their choice to join the team. Again, on the last workday of the week HR checks in to see how the new teammate is acclimating and to remove potential retention barriers. To build and strengthen relationships, during week two and at 30 days, co-workers connect with the new hire.  Members of the leadership team schedule time with new hires at 60 and 90 days to create a deeper understanding of organizational operations and reiterate how essential the DSP role is to make our mission reality.  

The information gathered along the way allows us to take action to retain DSPs.  Sometimes we can save the day by clarifying information or adapting to the needs of our valued DSPs.

The Impact Of Touch Points Program

This program helps us do our part to ensure direct support professionals (DSPs) are having great experiences. We can then address any issues and reiterate the new hires’ importance to our team. 

We see our DSPs much more engaged in the organization as a whole and committed to the mission by the way they “show up.”  As intimidating as it may seem to meet with the CFO or the VP, our DSPs report that once the meeting occurs and they see it is a non-threatening conversation, controlled by them, they welcome the opportunity.   

Steps To Implement A Similar Program

First and foremost, organizations need to make sure it is known throughout the agency that your DSP team is the foundation of your organization. This is why it is so important to be a part of controlling the lens through which they see the organization. Then, make it specific to what is important to your organization, including your values and beliefs. Always make it about creating a great experience. 

Here are some more specific steps that Providence of Maryland, Inc. took to implement its Touch Points program: 

  1. Identified the different points within the first six months that we wanted to make an intentional connection with each new hire. 
  2. Drafted the questions we wanted to ask at each connection point. There are specific questions involved, but there is also value in us just being present and listening to the new hire’s experiences. 
  3. Defined who would make the intentional contact from different levels in the organization – including every department (services and supports, finance, HR, Development, Training, peers, etc.) 
  4. Scheduled the intentional contact with the new hire and the staff making the connection. This is done through our HR department. 
  5. Created a feedback loop with specific timeframes to provide feedback. Feedback loop includes addressing specific individual concerns, sharing stories with supervisors, addressing trends, addressing systemic operational concerns. 

Organizations should also market this program to new hires for what it is – the organization’s attempt to keep you on the team, by understanding what is important to you and supporting you to have a great experience. It’s not a “gotcha.” 

Once you put the program in motion, you need to follow through. Otherwise, the program is seen as just ‘another project,’ and you want it to be a part of the fabric of your organization. With that, you need to be sure to share outcomes and feedback. 

About Providence of Maryland, Inc.

Providence is a leading non-profit supporting adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to discover and live their best lives in their communities throughout Anne Arundel and Charles counties in Maryland. We believe community is meant for all of us, and we work alongside more than 300 men and women to support them to create equitable opportunities for themselves in every aspect of their life, including employment, community engagement, advocacy, and home life, in ways that matter to each person.   

You can learn more about Providence of Maryland, Inc. by visiting the organization’s website: 

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.