Workforce flexibility the key to a flexible model of care

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This article is part of our showcase of the 2019 Future of Ageing Awards. Suncare was awarded highly commended in the People and Culture category.

In 2017, Suncare implemented a new model of client care in line with our organisational vision, purpose, values and aspirational behaviours. Our new model directly focussed on our customers, matching services with their needs and offering a genuine personal service.

The key component to this client care model is the Team Approach, improving employee flexibility and job satisfaction through better communication and a shared responsibility for sustaining the customer relationship and achieving their goals.

Project Overview

Flexibility has been enhanced dramatically, through the introduction of an Activity Based Working approach and a Flexible Working Environment.

Staff can choose where and when they work based on the task at hand and when it needs to be completed. Suncare’s volunteers are also an integral part of the organisation, and their needs have been carefully considered alongside changes to workplace structures and environments.

How it came together

When Suncare implemented its new model of care in 2017, this led to a shift in the way it carried out its day-to-day business. This required a corresponding change to workplace structures and environments.

In order to provide a more flexible model of care, Suncare required a more flexible workforce.

Flexible work agreements enable Suncare’s staff to adapt to the individual goals and needs of its customers, and to work more efficiently towards providing this care.

Staff, alongside workplace teams, can assess the time and locations constraints of each care package, as well as their own personal needs, then build a workplace agreement to suit.

Alongside this need for flexibility in workplace hours, came Suncare’s recognition of the need for versatility in the physical spaces they were conducting work.

A Flexible Working Environment recognises that the needs of each customer, and the needs of each employee or volunteer are vastly different.

Steering away from rigid office allocations and traditional workplace formats allows Suncare’s people to better meet the needs of customers.

An Activity Based Working approach gives Suncare’s employees freedom of choice and recognises that different people perform different activities in their work day. It allows flexibility for each workplace activity, be it focussed independent work, collaboration, or sharing ideas.

In order for this to operate effectively, Suncare has implemented a Flexible Working Environment, requiring major changes to the physical office spaces, and an upgrade of Suncare’s communication technologies.

Suncare’s offices were redesigned and, in many circumstances, relocated. The new offices offer staff and volunteers a healthy, ergonomically designed and aesthetically pleasing workplace with dual monitors and modern, adaptable furnishings.

Staff sit or stand while they work, ensuring comfort, reduced space requirements and cost efficiencies. Light airy spaces and docking stations are creating a more collaborative and agile culture.

Suncare currently employs over 350 staff across Queensland. Given the geographical spread of the team, they have had to work hard to implement inclusive communication strategies to ensure staff are kept informed, feel connected and are able to engage in a flexible approach to their work.

Image for illustrative purposes only

Suncare have introduced a range of technologies to support these activities. Technologies include Yammer, Skype and video conferencing that allows everyone to keep informed and connected. The staff particularly enjoy Yammer as it allows for a more casual level of communication – they can share the stories of day-topday activity or success, as well as customer feedback.

Suncare also invested in Telstra IP Technology (TIPT), a cloud-based system allowing employees to make and receive telephone and video calls, to chat and send or share files, from any location or from any device that runs the TIPT Business Connect application.

This reduces the physical barriers previously limiting communications between our service locations, departments and individual employees.

Suncare also runs a number of staff and volunteer recognition programs including employee awards that celebrate individuals and teams, annual staff conferences with varying themes, leadership programs such as Impact, a health and wellbeing program encouraging physical, psychological and social wellbeing, a partnership with Mindstar, providing confidential, professional and innovative counselling and guidance services, and  partnership with Fitness Passport, a corporate health and fitness program.

Suncare also provides training to all volunteers in support and recognition of their dedication.

Outcomes

Suncare’s success in delivering this new model of care is clear when analysing the large number of new customers, the improved wellbeing of people receiving care, and a corresponding increase in staff needed to support them.

Suncare has increased staff numbers by approximately 69 per cent over the past two years. This is also apparent in Suncare accounts that have experienced an increase in overall revenue of more than 20 per cent in the past financial year.

This revenue translated to almost five per cent improvement in profits, despite considerable increases in administration costs and customer facing roles.

The implementation of flexible workspaces has reduced the space required to do business, as office spaces are shared, rather than rigidly allocated. Consequently, Suncare is using 38 per cent less electricity. The business is also transitioning to hybrid vehicles, which now represent 30 per cent of the community transport fleet, reducing CO2 emissions by over 12 per cent.

Activity Based Working practices and advancements in technology use have also reduced the need for staff to travel, meaning further reductions in fuel consumption. These reductions in consumption have led to a corresponding reduction in expenditure.

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