Here, Paavan Popat, Chief Executive of TLC Care, gives his advice on how care providers can achieve this respected accreditation by ensuring that team members across the business are valued and listened to.
- If we want to attract and retain the best people, we should go beyond simply paying lip-service to employee engagement, and instead deeply embed employee-centric values at the heart of our organisations.
- Employee engagement, if done correctly, can create an atmosphere where colleagues excel professionally and personally.
- Being awarded an Investors in People Gold Award is an achievement won on the strength of the team, not the individual.
- An Investors in People Gold Award is achieved through being open, transparent and collaborative, but most importantly by empowering everyone within your organisation to reach their full potential.
As care providers, we all focus on running ‘person-centred’ services, but that term is often only used in relation to residents we care for, not the teams delivering that care. As the Government’s care worker recruitment campaign gets into full swing, the sector should ask itself whether we spend enough time genuinely considering the needs of our colleagues, not just those of residents and regulators.
From the outset, caring for our own colleagues – regardless of their seniority – seems obvious but all too often, companies overlook the needs of their team members, despite the clear correlation between business success and a happy and motivated workforce.
If we want to attract and retain the best people, we should go beyond simply paying lip-service to employee engagement, and instead deeply embed employee-centric values at the heart of our organisations. If done correctly, we can create an atmosphere where colleagues excel professionally and personally.
I have seen first-hand how including colleagues in our person-centred approach fosters an environment where everyone shares and understands the core values and how to implement them. It’s this approach that helped TLC Care become one of only 16% of accredited UK companies to have achieved the Investors in People Gold standard.
We don’t just talk about our company values – truth, love and compassion – we live and breathe them, whilst constructively challenging those that don’t. We focus on recognising and improving our own abilities; creating happiness for others as a way of achieving self-fulfilment; and being empathetic and responsive to the needs of all residents and colleagues. These values are embedded in everyone, every process and everything that we do. I firmly believe this enable us to deliver the highest quality care, the best workplace and a genuine home-from-home environment for residents.
What this means is that we empower our team through actively seeking their recommendations, advice and support on how we can collectively improve. By ensuring colleagues are involved in the decision-making process, we create a work environment where teams have the trust and confidence in senior members to know that they are not just listened to but that they are also understood.
Initiatives we have implemented across the company as a result of feedback from colleagues of all levels includes making sure the central Support Office attends home-level team meetings. We’re no longer reliant on feedback filtered through the prism of a home or regional manager, but instead we understand how every single colleague is feeling about their work because we’re in the room, directly engaging with them.
Another example was the introduction of a “day in the life of…” exercise, as suggested by a Home Manager, where everyone in the Support Office takes on the role of their frontline colleagues for a full 8-hour shift. This is all part of our engagement forum, led by TLC Care’s Chief Operating Officer, which is a collaborative effort with each home’s dedicated Engagement Champion to improve engagement and retention.
Acts like this show colleagues we care and, more importantly, it means those in the Support Office who need information from homes, or team members to implement new policies, have a far greater understanding of the challenges our home-level colleagues face each day. We can therefore better support them to overcome these challenges so that collectively we provide a better workplace for colleagues and a happier home for residents.
This is all part of our “One Team” approach. It’s our shared passion for care and transforming the lives of residents and colleagues; our collective commitment to go above and beyond in supporting each other to be the best we can be; our dedication to working constructively together for the betterment of everyone, not just ourselves. This ethos sits at the heart of what we do and is one of the reasons we applied for and achieved the Gold standard.
For anyone aiming to reach the Gold standard and, more broadly, improve relations between senior and junior team members, I have three pieces of advice.
Firstly, don’t start the process if you’re motivated simply by achieving the Gold standard itself. This shouldn’t be a ‘box ticking’ exercise, but a way to encourage support amongst colleagues and recognise their daily commitment to your organisation. Be motivated because you’re empowering your team, not because you’re seeking a PR opportunity.
Secondly, break down barriers to open internal communication. Our Support Team are physically in homes on a weekly basis, with everyone knowing who we are and how to contact us. We also rebranded our Head Office to Support Office in order to emphasise our ‘open door’ policy at every level of the organisation. This gives even the most junior team members the confidence to express their opinion on how we can improve as we work towards our common goals.
Finally, remember that asking for feedback means nothing if you don’t implement ideas to make your organisation better. For example, last year one of our homes held an internal awards night to celebrate and recognise the achievements of the team and residents alike. We loved the idea of championing the people who make TLC Care a success and decided to roll it out across all our homes. As a result, we have seen a boost in morale and our teams feel empowered to play a more active role.
In short, being awarded an Investors in People Gold Award is an achievement won on the strength of the team, not the individual. It is achieved through being open, transparent and collaborative, but most importantly by empowering everyone within your organisation to reach their full potential. An empowered team creates a happier, healthier care environment for all involved. This is the one thing all care providers should strive towards.
About the author
Paavan Popat joined TLC Group as Managing Director in September 2009, becoming Chief Executive Officer in May 2014. Under Paavan’s leadership the company has grown substantially with bed count in TLC Care increasing from 169 in 2009 to 473 in 2018 with a further two homes currently in development. Prior to joining TLC Group, Paavan worked for global construction consultancy Rider Levett Bucknall and was involved in projects globally.