In today’s increasingly competitive environment, health and human service organizations often struggle to distinguish themselves. Providing high quality services is a given, but to establish your brand, you must demonstrate that you make a difference in the lives of those you serve.
Some critical factors that can help maintain your organization’s competitive edge include earning national accreditation, reporting on service outcomes (not just outputs) and recruiting and maintaining a qualified, well-trained workforce.
Achieving accreditation affirms that child welfare, behavioral health, employment and community service organizations meet or exceed professional-grade quality standards in service delivery. It also gives clients and other key stakeholders an appropriate tool for effectively evaluating service providers.
Organizations that earn accreditation reach beyond minimum licensing standards and make a long-term commitment to strong governance, program consistency, outcome measurements and continuous improvement throughout their agencies.
Accreditation requires organizations to undergo an objective review by an independent accrediting body. The designation signifies that agencies effectively manage their resources and enhance the quality of life of the population served.
Individuals and families increasingly regard the accredited status of an agency as an important factor when considering where to seek services.*
Performance Improvement and Reporting on Outcomes
With detailed digital data available just a few clicks away, health and human service organizations are being held accountable for measuring service outcomes – not just outputs. This new development requires the collection and analysis of relevant data to discover trends and patterns. The key is to make improvements (or expand upon achievements) where necessary.
Outputs are quantifiable data points related to the numbers of people served, frequency of home visits made, time in care and other common variables. However, outputs measure the impact that services have on the lives of those in care or treatment, including knowledge transferred, behaviors changed, improved homelife stability and other revealing and quantifiable data points.
In fact, all organizations seeking to gain and maintain accreditation are required to record and report outcome statistics as part of their performance improvement programs. Compiling performance indicators in a transparent, easy to understand manner will help service providers connect with clients, families and donors in a meaningful way and, in turn, allow them to be more competitive.
In the nonprofit arena, the relationship with donors has been forever transformed by technology and the unyielding desire for increased information that supports educated giving decisions. Providing reports on outcomes can also help non-profits tell their story and compete for hard-won donor dollars.
Recruiting and retaining a well-trained, qualified workforce is the key to providing high quality services, reducing operational and programmatic risk, maintaining an organization’s reputation and contributing to institutional stability.
To attract talented employees, agencies should institute standardized recruiting procedures, conduct primary-source verification of education and licensure, perform background checks and review criminal history records for those individuals who work directly with vulnerable or at-risk people and develop effective onboarding processes.
In the health and human service field, top-quality employees aim to work for nationally accredited entities, an achievement that demonstrates your organization’s commitment to quality and to investing in its workforce.
It is easier to retain a qualified workforce by focusing on training, staff satisfaction, professional development and transparency. Investing in your people will foster a more stable workforce and enhance the quality of provided services – all of which helps make your organization more competitive.
Implementing steps to retain your organization’s competitive edge takes time and effort, but think about the alternatives: If you neglect the opportunity to continually improve, your reputation will ultimately suffer.
Earning national accreditation provides a framework for improving operations, measuring and reporting on outcomes, recruiting and supporting employees and providing quality services – which help maintain your organization’s competitiveness in an ever-changing environment.