For organizations that provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs), employee retention must always be top of mind, even during the holiday season. In fact, the holidays are a great opportunity to make your Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) feel appreciated. Showing appreciation can go a long way in boosting employee morale and retention.
Here are a few ideas.
#1 – Remind Your Families to Say Thanks
Families who receive services for an individual with IDD in their homes usually carry a hefty caregiving load, and they may feel exhausted or overwhelmed, especially during the holidays. Other families may find that the holidays are so difficult, they’ve given up on celebrating them, and the whole season can slip right past them.
While families may forget to say thanks to their DSPs, that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate them! Maybe they just need a little push. Send your families an email reminding them that expressing gratitude goes a long way. A card, a small present, or a gift card may be just the thing that convinces your DSP to stay in the job another year.
This goes for the families of people who live in your residential settings, too. They may not know the names of all the DSPs who work with their family member, or where to send a card or present. Offer to give them a list of names, and let them know if a particular DSP is close to or went out of his or her way to help their family member.
#2 – Host a Round-the-Clock Holiday Party
Getting all of your DSPs together for a holiday lunch may not be an option, but you don’t want to throw a party and leave out some of your employees. Consider planning a 12-hour or even 24-hour holiday get-together, and advise supervisors to adjust schedules as needed so everyone has an opportunity to attend. Handing out a gift bag of treats or little toys is always a nice touch.
#3 – Help Your Residents Say Thanks
An individual who lives in your group home or other residential setting may want to go shopping and buy a present for their favorite DSP – without that DSP seeing the gift and spoiling the surprise! Maybe they want to write a card to a DSP expressing their love and gratitude, but they need help getting their feelings down on paper. Your QPs or administrators could spend some time visiting your residences and helping the people you serve implement their holiday gift-giving plans.
#4 – Give 0ut “Best of the Year” Awards
“Best of” awards are a great way to show staff that you notice the difference they make and the little things that make them unique. Encourage your front-line supervisors to create awards that are specific to each DSP, and if possible, give them a little budget to work with. It’s easy to find cute keepsakes at the dollar store that could be used as awards.
#5 – Write a Personal Note of Appreciation
A card from a supervisor that acknowledges the hard work of a DSP – the extra shifts they worked, the difficult situation they handled with compassion, the time they advocated for the needs or ambitions of a person they serve – is a powerful tool for employee engagement and morale. Highlight their professionalism and commitment. Let them know that you appreciate what they did this year, and you look forward to working with them in the year to come.
Happy holidays, all!
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