IRT Group is an aged care provider operating in NSW, ACT and QLD. We have 2,400 employees and operate five business units; residential care, retirement living, IRT at Home, IRT Catering and the IRT College, our training company.
Becoming an employer of choice was not something we intentionally set out to do. Rather it was a welcomed by-product of focusing on something far more important – our organisational culture.
The days of ongoing positive growth in a secure benign environment are over. Changes driven by de-regulation, ACFI, and, most importantly, customer preferences, accelerated IRT’s focus on culture from 2014, when our Group Chief Executive, Nieves Murray set the culture wheels in motion. Nieves understood that our future survival required us to radically shift patterns of behaviour that had developed within the business over a long period of time.
Walking the Talk
The first step in this journey was to introduce a collaboration methodology and Collaboration Zone (C Zone). Through this process many of our people were introduced to an entirely new way of working together and problem solving. This approach requires the right people in the room regardless of role or level, and for some senior managers, this was a challenge. The C Zone focused initially on preparing the business for deregulation within the ‘at home’ sector. Over time it has become integral to our decision-making and problem-solving processes.
By late 2015 we had identified, in very specific terms, the target culture required to succeed in the future. We adopted the ‘Walking the Talk’ framework focused on identifying the right ‘cultural archetypes’ to contend with strategic business imperatives. We determined that future success required a culture defined by: 1) an unyielding focus on the customer – Customer Centricity; and 2) the ability to build the business of tomorrow – Innovation.
Three year culture plan
In early 2016, we engaged the entire business in assessing our current culture. We identified a need to improve the foundational behaviours of accountability and empowerment, before driving down the path of Customer Centricity and Innovation. Developing these behaviours across the business became the year one focus of our three-year culture plan.
To do this we invested heavily in the development of our leaders, from our CEOs through to frontline supervisors and team leaders. By the end of June 2017, 300 managers will have participated in an immersive leadership effectiveness program.
We have also sharpened our focus on performance with our new online ‘performance and goals’ system for managers and professional staff. In addition, we have overhauled our reward and recognition strategy, introducing a new Short Term Incentive (STI) program, merit-based remuneration, and a ‘peer to peer’ social recognition program, ‘Call out a Champion’.
New HR technology has been introduced that empowers our people to manage their personal information, whilst accessing leading-edge online learning and development. Our target culture behaviours were at the heart of these changes, and in doing so, sent very strong messages to our people about what is valued, encouraged and rewarded. As we move into FY18 there will be an increased focus on Customer Centricity and Innovation.
As stated, we started down this path to develop a culture that would ensure IRT’s success in a rapidly changing environment. Cementing our reputation as an employer of choice has been a welcome by-product.
Criterion’s series of Aged Care conferences cover topics including Choice & Control, Dementia, Retirement Living, Residential Aged Care and more. View upcoming events here.