DISCLAIMER: I’m in my 50’s, I’m a dad, a CEO, and a nerd. I have a Ph.D. in applied behavior analysis, and I’m fascinated by the inner working of our minds. My writing will be sprinkled with geek references, dad jokes, phrases that were barely cool when introduced 10 to 20 years ago, brain science bits, and CEO business babble.

In the last post, we explained how we’re trying to identify our most valuable, full-time DSPs (Direct Support Professionals). We landed on two metrics.

  1. Showing Up – measured by attendance points (having 6 points or less per quarter).
  2. Doing Good – measured by performance coaching (needing no more than informal coaching to address performance discrepancies).

We found that 5 of our full-time DSPs meet these measures. I made a lame joke about a keg, and here we are. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on increasing that percentage!

The first initiative we’re trying is the Gold Club. Why “Gold Club”? Because I’m corny and like projects that play on our name. Goldie Floberg. Gold Club. More importantly, gold is very valuable, just like our DSPs who Show Up and Do Good.

The Gold Club is our attempt to recognize those who Show Up and Do Good and to encourage others to do the same.

We started with a survey to find out what perks would be appealing to our DSPs. About 40% of DSPs completed the survey. The highest-ranking perks were:

More money (87%)

Monthly gas card (80%)

Gold Club apparel such as a t-shirt and hoodie (60%)

Tuition scholarships (53%)

Other perks came in at 50% or less.

Armed with a list of preferred perks and our qualification metrics, we created our Gold Club. We’re starting with a shift differential of $0.50, a $20 per month gas card, a “Show Up/Do Good” t-shirt, access to a scholarship fund that will pay for a 3-credit class or trade school equivalent (capped amount), access to an interest-free, staff assistance loan pool, and a pair of personally selected Crocs. The Crocs were added after I taught multiple classes and noticed most staff wear them. They appear to be the footwear Dejour in our field and we thought it would be a fun add-on. We have four Gold Club member inductions per year, after the end of each quarter. A DSP must meet the Show Up/Do Good criteria for the three months leading up to the induction. A DSP must continue to meet the Show Up/Do Good criteria to stay in the Gold Club.

We’ve learned that one of the hardest parts of a new initiative is getting the word out to our staff. Internal emails are insufficient in our experience. We decided on a multi-prong education and promotion strategy. It started with informational emails that were followed up with a contest. The contest consisted of me visiting each of our group homes and if the DSPs working could tell me two things about the Gold Club, they’d win an Amazon gift card. The contest reached 26 DSPs (close to 30% of our DSPs). Next up is using social media by highlighting our first Gold Clubbers. Speaking of, here are our founding Gold Club members!

A question we struggled with is whether we should wipe everyone’s slate clean in terms of attendance points and coaching as we kick off the program. If a DSP is starting with more than 6 attendance points or more than informal coaching, getting into the Gold Club may seem out of reach. Cleaning the staff’s slate might build excitement about the Gold Club and incentivize DSPs to Show Up and Do Good so they can be inducted in October. If more people get into the club, they will experience the perks and may continue to Show Up and Do Good to avoid losing those perks. There are downsides as well. Do we send a message that our attendance and coaching systems are meaningless? Do we upset the DSPs who already Show Up and Do Good? These are the types of decisions we wrestle with often.

Putting on my Behavior Analyst hat, a solution appears. We can reduce everyone’s attendance points to 6 points (the cutoff point to get into the Gold Club), if they have more than 6 points. If a person has further absences during the quarter, they will get their regular number of points and regain the original points. So, if I have 11 attendance points, they’ll get knocked down to 6 points. If I incur another absence, my points will jump back to 11 plus the points from this new absence. We’ll also waive any coaching above informal coaching to qualify for the Gold Club. The coaching won’t be removed, but it won’t be counted against the person. If further coaching is needed, it’ll build on the earlier coaching. This gives everyone the opportunity to make their way into the Gold Club in the first quarter but requires each person to demonstrate that they can Show Up and Do Good.

Let’s give it a shot and see what happens!

It will take us a bit to see if our efforts bear any fruit, so tune in next week as we examine the results of a different experiment in “Can King Croesus Fix Attendance?”