Extensive bi-annual research report explores key motivators behind job satisfaction in survey of nearly 800 professionals delivering services to people with intellectual, developmental disabilities
Relias, the trusted education and workforce development partner to more than 11,000 healthcare and human service organizations worldwide, today announced the release of its 2023 Direct Support Professional (DSP) Survey Report. The report, which sheds light on crucial aspects of DSP turnover and retention, was developed in partnership with ANCOR, the leading voice in Washington for organizations serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
Relias and ANCOR surveyed 763 DSP respondents, finding that roughly one in five respondents reported feeling unsupported by their employers and less than half felt well-prepared for their jobs. 66% of respondents had five or more years of experience. Within that, 12% had five to six years of experience, 15% had seven to 10 years, 14% had 11 to 15 years, and 25% had 16 or more years. The study, which was conducted between January 6 to 25, 2023, thoroughly assessed how DSPs felt about the support they receive from their employers and how these sentiments may affect retention and turnover in the future.
The report found that for DSPs to feel adequately supported and valued by their organizations, they need additional support and access to resources like comprehensive onboarding, career advancement opportunities, and effective supervision. For example, while 81% of respondents felt that having a safe platform to provide feedback about a supervisor was extremely important to them, only 59% currently have such an avenue available.
In this survey, other key takeaways include:
• Feelings of unpreparedness: 21% of respondents felt that they did not receive enough support from their companies and less than half (46%) of respondents felt well-prepared for their job after onboarding training, emphasizing the necessity of thorough onboarding processes.
• Desire for professional development opportunities: The majority of respondents (56%) reported that they would be “very much” to “extremely” more likely to stay with their employer if offered career advancement opportunities. Companies should be increasingly incentivized to invest in employee education to maximize retention and minimize turnover.
• Need for recognition: 27% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with how their employers show appreciation for their work, and 25% of respondents do not feel appreciated for their professional contributions. Additionally, the preferred methods of recognition include professional development opportunities (66%); new leadership/career opportunities (65%); and private recognition directly from supervisors (64%).
• Demand for accessible mental health services: Almost two thirds (65%) of respondents reported that they would be “moderately” to “extremely” more likely to stay with their current company if the company invested in employee wellbeing or mental health programs. Only 52% of respondents reported that their organization provided such offerings, with 35% reporting they were unaware if their organization offered these programs.
• Salary improvements: 38% of respondents do not feel fairly compensated — which is 12 percentage points lower compared to the 2021 survey (50%). This decreased concern in salary is likely a result of the additional funding IDD organizations received from the public emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the current challenges of staff turnover and burnout among DSPs, the insights from our latest survey couldn’t be more timely as they shed light for providers on the needs of their staff,” said Nellie Galindo, MSW, MSPH, senior product marketing manager at Relias. “DSPs are the main support system for individuals with IDD, and it’s critical for them to feel appreciated and respected for their meaningful work. This report serves as a set of guidelines to inform decision makers in IDD services as they re-examine policies for better working conditions.”
This report contains valuable information for those who work in the IDD field and demonstrates Relias’ and ANCOR’s commitment to improving the lives of care providers and those for whom they care.
“This research is just one way among many that we are partnering with Relias to strengthen the direct support workforce and the IDD community more broadly,” said Gabrielle Sedor, chief operations officer for ANCOR and director of the ANCOR Foundation. “We believe this report meaningfully adds to the growing body of evidence asserting the need for deeper investments in the DSP workforce so that higher job satisfaction can correlate positively with better outcomes for the people accepting our services.”
For more than 50 years, the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ancor.org) has been a leading advocate for the critical role service providers play in enriching the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). As a national nonprofit trade association, ANCOR represents 2,000+ organizations employing more than a half-million professionals who together serve more than a million individuals with IDD. Our mission is to advance the ability of our members to support people with IDD to fully participate in their communities.
Relias provides lifelong workforce enablement solutions for more than 11,000 healthcare and human services organizations and 4.5 million caregivers to drive measurable outcomes. Customers use Relias solutions to attract and retain talent, elevate care quality and reduce risk with our technology, services, community, and expertise. The Relias family of brands — Nurse.com, Wound Care Education Institute, Relias Academy, FreeCME, and Relias Media — serves the entire healthcare community and shares a common goal of improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of society and those who care for them.