Why would you still want to implement a change programme when just last year 15 percent of your staff were made compulsory redundant? Didn’t that resolve the problem? “No,” says Adriaan van der Sluijs, regional operations manager at Accezz International, “that was just the beginning.”
After implementing extreme cost-cutting measures last year, Accezz International’s new client still found itself up to its neck in difficulties when January arrived. While the client may have hesitated in the past, this time the decision to bring in Accezz to start a change programme in the work place was made within a month.
Why spend money after a cutback?
Adriaan van der Sluijs explains the situation: “The need to cut costs doesn’t emerge without good reason. The same work still needs to be done, however, but with fewer people. And any cutbacks should of course have little to no impact on care recipients. In the meantime, the organisation is required to operate within all conceivable formal financial channels, while every move is watched closely by the unions and the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). Using temporary workers is out of the question, for example.”
In January, Van der Sluijs and a project team consisting of both client and Accezz International staff began a programme to ensure that the same work could be carried out with fewer people. At the same time, it was essential to make sure that the organisation could continue to properly execute its care responsibilities under these new conditions. Van der Sluijs says, “There is always a risk in investing in change and action. But what would be the ultimate cost if there was no change?”
The importance of client satisfaction
He continues: “The first step is for team leaders to gain insight into previous work practices and ways of thinking that had been ineffective.
For instance, this organisation was used to putting care recipients’ needs first at all times. A logical and a noble aspiration. However, this focus was hindered by new legislation and accompanying financial limitations. The number of staff hours allocated to care needed to be reduced. And yes, at the same time this needed to be achieved preferably by retaining the high client satisfaction score that the organisation had.”
Is such a thing possible? Van de Sluijs: “Certainly! We always ensure that the client receives ample care and that the organisation retains its viability, which is always best for the client in any case. For us, change equals improvement for all parties involved. ”
One of the eye-openers
“The ability to change and work more efficiently often lies in addressing small, practical matters. For example, in this organisation all employees had their break at the same time. By staggering breaks per department, however, staff could stand in for each other and respond to care needs at any time. Time was saved and care provided more efficiently,” says Van der Sluijs.
He continues: “Employees are often so used to working in a certain way that only an outsider is able to see how things could be done better. And when it comes to actually changing habits, it is certainly true that it takes a pair of fresh eyes to gain a proper perspective.”
The most fun part according to Adriaan
“When working with the client, it’s a wonderful challenge to try to achieve the desired results within a short timeframe. It’s also inspiring to see how everyone takes action to still provide the necessary care despite the difficult situation. What’s more, I always find it a compliment when we obtain a project through another client. When existing clients act as an ambassador for us, it shows just how satisfied they are with the results of our approach. A good sign!”