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Devereux Massachusetts/Rhode Island STARR program builds a sense of community

 

Sheri-ann Mclean, Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island program director, cultivates a culture of trust and collaboration among staff through the organization’s STARR program in Paxton, Mass.

Mclean strives to create a sense of community in the workplace in a variety of ways, including showing small acts of appreciation for employees during holidays and special occasions.

For the past two years, Sheri-ann Mclean, program director at Devereux Advanced Behavior Health Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has been cultivating a culture of trust and collaboration among staff in the organization’s Short-term Assessment and Rapid Reintegration (STARR) program in Paxton, Mass.  

In an industry with a high employee turnover rate, specifically for direct support professionals, the Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island Paxton STARR program, which provides short-term placement services for youth in need of immediate behavioral healthcare support – has experienced a less than 1 percent turnover rate since August 2017. 

“What we do in the Paxton STARR program can be stressful and overwhelming – reintegrating youth back into their families or the next appropriate placement or level of care, typically, within a matter of days,” Mclean explained. “My goal is to ensure our employees feel appreciated and understood, and know that their voices will always be heard.”  

Meaningful acts of appreciation

Mclean strives to create a sense of community in the workplace by:

  • Sending employees weekly text messages with inspirational quotes
  • Placing surprise gifts in employees’ mailboxes
  • Organizing team building activities during staff meetings
  • Holding raffles for gift cards during staff meetings
  • Purchasing gift cards for employees’ birthdays
  • Sending employees cards and monetary contributions in recognition of significant life events
  • Purchasing small gifts for employees on holidays and during Direct Support Professionals week 

“When I first started sending text messages to employees with inspirational quotes, I did not know if anyone was reading them or if the messages were making a difference,” Mclean shared. “Then one day, a team member said, ‘Thank you so much, Sheri-ann! I really needed to hear that quote.’ This motivated me to continue sending text messages and do even more to support and empower our staff.”   

A healthy environment for all

Mclean also places an emphasis on self-care, encouraging employees to take time to relax and recharge.  

“I always tell staff, ‘If you are not taking care of yourself, you are in no position to take care of our youth,’” Mclean explained. “By creating a positive, healthy and collaborative work environment, employees are motivated to go above and beyond what is asked of them every day to help the individuals we serve – and their families – reach their treatment goals.”  

Devereux Massachusetts/Rhode Island Executive Director Kerry Ann Goldsmith noted that, “the Paxton STARR program is proof that building a sense of community in the workplace, where employees feel accepted, supported and encouraged, can lead to increased engagement, productivity and employee retention. People want to part of something bigger than themselves, and that is where the Paxton STARR program truly shines.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.

 

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