Creating a Culture that Gives Team Members a True Sense of “Belonging” - Penn-Mar

Creating a Culture that Gives Team Members a True Sense of “Belonging”

Posted on October 19, 2023

By Gregory T. Miller, President and Chief Executive Officer, Penn-Mar Human Services | Chief Executive Officer, Penn-Mar Foundation
CEO Greg Miller's headshot

Gregory Miller
President/CEO Penn-Mar Human Services

My thanks to all of you who have contributed invaluable insights for our “Belonging” initiative by completing questionnaires and participating in a series of “Why” sessions, giving us a more accurate picture of what is going on in the workplace from our team members’ perspective.

Our project partner, Dr. Martin N. Davidson, has issued his final report from these findings to highlight what we are doing well, and to identify those things our team members perceive we can do better.

I’d like to use this blog to briefly address the five areas cited that require further discussion and ways to improve.

  1. Connection…We have 600 employees at Penn-Mar, our services are spread out geographically, and of late, we have on-boarded many new hires. Team members want the opportunity to connect and form relationships with more of their peers and leaders outside of their day-to-day work environment. While we are already addressing some of that, we will be looking into providing more activities and team building opportunities to make those stronger connections happen.
  2. Leadership Engagement…There is a very strong desire from team members to connect with leaders throughout Penn-Mar, including senior managers, directors, administrators and the many folks who provide support throughout the organization. They also want leaders to understand what is actually happening day-to-day on the ground. I personally welcome each new team member on their first day of training but this should not be the last interaction they have with me or with any other of our leaders. We have been trying to lean into this for a while to ensure our leaders support and have more exposure to the daily work of our team members.
  3. Structural Divide…This is the visual perception when people feel they are being treated differently because of where they work and what they do. We are a large, complex organization but that is no excuse for having a structural divide. We need more consistency in how our team members are managed and in their actual day-to-day experience. This consistency needs to extend across all of the organization’s programs, regardless of the department or site location.
  1. People Practices…Our team members want more opportunities to improve their compensation and professional development. We have taken a number of steps in this area, with new compensation structures and our Career Ladders program for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). But there’s more to do. We need to continue to keep our compensation scales competitive and support our team members in creating career paths.
  1. Communications..There is a perceived need for better communications across the organization relating to tasks, expectations, activities, and working relationships. But it’s more than just about communications. The bigger issue is how to get team members engaged with the communications. We have to explore new and better ways to get our messages across, and noticed.

It’s important for all our team members to know that we are taking this feedback to heart. It’s not a “check-off-the-box” and move on exercise. My challenge will be to work with our leadership team and directors to take what we’ve learned, continue to listen to team members and develop a successful “Culture Solution” around each issue to create and sustain a dynamic workplace at Penn-Mar.

Only then can we hope to create a consistency in our culture designed to respect and support team members, helping them to be successful in their job — regardless of where they work or whom they work for — and providing a place where they can live their best life that gives them a true sense of “Belonging.”

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