Workforce plan with a difference

Benetas responds to industry-wide staffing challenges

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A desire to address industry-wide staffing challenges has seen leading Victorian aged care provider Benetas develop and deliver a workforce plan with a difference. The plan, which was developed to complement the organisation’s five year strategic vision Towards 2019, reflects Benetas’ ongoing commitment to creating an environment that supports staff to remain motivated, engaged and equipped to provide high quality care. The success of this work was recognised in May, when Benetas was awarded the Leading Age Services Australia (Victoria) Excellence in People and Culture award.

A stand out of the plan is the organisation’s investment in developing its leaders and providing quality learning for all staff. “We have taken great steps to continually improve the calibre and consistency of leadership across Benetas. Great leaders create great working environments,” said Benetas Chief Executive Officer Sandra Hills.  “By supporting our leaders to be the best they can be, we have achieved real results in raising employee engagement.”

The organisation’s approach to staff development has become more contemporary by building on peoples’ capabilities rather than relying on training. Learning opportunities are created largely through experience, with the delivery of flexible online modules and ‘competency coaches’, who operate across sites to help with learning, when and where people need it. The workforce plan contains similar commitments to health and wellbeing and diversity and inclusion, both of which have seen a number of initiatives rolled out over the last three years.

Benetas takes a proactive approach to managing health and wellbeing with staff, even if the illness or injury isn’t work related. As a result, staff are more comfortable and open to work with the organisation to facilitate a supported return to work. This has led to a year on year decrease in time off work and worker’s compensation premiums.  “For the second year in a row, Benetas’ Employer Performance Rating is better than the industry average. That’s a significant achievement for an organisation of our size,” said Ms Hills.

Similarly, the organisation’s approach to diversity and inclusion is integrated throughout the business. Founded in Benetas’ vision and values, it prioritises inclusiveness. “As a faith-based for-purpose organisation, we want to deliver a positive, fulfilling experience of ageing where everyone has the opportunity to age well in communities of choice and support.”

As an extension of this, we want to develop a working culture where all of our staff feel included, supported and valued.”

Understanding how these priority areas can be applied in practice has led Benetas to undertake two major initiatives: becoming an accredited White Ribbon Workplace, which recognises businesses who have taken proactive steps to prevent and respond to violence against women; and participating in the Given the Chance program, a partnership with the Brotherhood of St Laurence which gives job seekers experiencing disadvantage the opportunity to access meaningful training and employment. The organisation’s commitment to diversity was also recognised in 2016, when it was awarded the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s Employer of Choice for Gender Equity for an eleventh consecutive year.

The Benetas workforce plan is regularly reviewed to ensure the business is able to track its progress. But Ms Hills says it is feedback from staff that speaks the loudest. “In our last staff engagement survey, we exceeded industry benchmarks across the majority of workplace culture and staff wellbeing outcomes,” said Ms Hills. “This tells us that our workforce plan is more than just a piece of paper.”

Our staff genuinely believe Benetas is a great place to work, and that goes a long way in supporting older people to live their best life.”

[Source: Benetas]