It’s hard work being a direct support professional (DSP). Long hours, low pay, and the risk of adverse mental health effects all combine to make direct support one of the more difficult jobs in the intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) field. Your organization can help make the professional lives of your DSPs a little easier through effective appreciation efforts.
Not only that, but by showing your DSPs you appreciate their hard work, your organization will likely increase your direct support staff retention rates as well.
In Relias’ most recent nationwide survey of DSPs, almost every respondent reported on the importance of organizational appreciation efforts. In fact, 84% told us that it was “very important” or “extremely important” to receive appreciation from a supervisor.
But what are the most effective ways for your organization to show this appreciation? Within this same survey, DSPs told us about the most popular means of receiving recognition and appreciation for their efforts.
Provide Opportunities for Growth
First, the most popular way of receiving recognition was through one-on-one feedback from their direct supervisor. 69% of DSPs reported that receiving recognition from a supervisor in this way proved “extremely valuable” to them. Moving forward, look for opportunities to pull your DSPs aside and communicate how much you appreciate their efforts, both as a person and as a supervisor.
Next, 66% of DSPs reported receiving professional development opportunities was a great way for their organization to show appreciation. In a field with historically-low wages, giving your DSPs the chance to learn, take on greater responsibilities, and potentially earn higher salaries is the best investment your organization can make in its direct support staff. Though it may prove difficult, we recommend creating a learning and development program specifically for DSP development and growth.
In that same vein, your organization should work to create career paths and routes to leadership for your DSPs. We found that 63% of DSPs believe leadership and career opportunities to be an extremely valuable form of recognition and appreciation of their efforts.
Finding Small Ways to Say Thanks
While career growth opportunities are no doubt impactful, they will take time to implement. So, what can your organization do today to show thanks to your DSP staff? Consider the following:
Purchase a gift card to a local coffee shop, restaurant, or store your staff member enjoys. Not only will a monetary award (even a minimal one) convey your appreciation, but it will show you understand their interests and care about them as a person, not just a staff member.
Writing a note of appreciation can go a long way to conveying how much you appreciate the hard work of your DSPs. Since a majority of DSPs have reported that they prefer private to public recognition, a note of thanks is a great way of showing your appreciation without making them feel uncomfortable or singling them out in front of their peers.
Coordinate with the people you support to put together a small gift from them to their DSPs. Your Qualified Professionals or administrators can work with the people you support to come up with gift ideas that match their personalities and reflect why they appreciate their DSPs.
Jordan Baker is the Content Marketing Manager at Relias. Jordan is passionate about e-learning and helping learners achieve their goals. At Relias, he works with subject matter experts across disciplines to shape health care content designed to improve clinical practice, staff expertise, and patient outcomes.
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