What Is the Company Culture Like at Waypoints?
Clinical and in-home ABA jobs have a lot of similarities between them, and what can set them apart from each other often comes down to “company culture.” Company culture typically refers to the values and beliefs that define a company and guide its actions and decisions but can also be reflected in the way that employees at all levels interact with each other.
Much like any culture, company culture can develop naturally over time as an organization grows and changes, but it can also be designed more deliberately. At Waypoints, we’ve attempted to foster our desired culture based on our mission statement and our strategic plan. The structure of a company’s culture is usually established by its founders; when we began our journey in early 2021, our team of six spent a good chunk of time brainstorming together to identify our shared values and what actions those values should influence. This blog post has provided a great opportunity to reflect on how well we’ve succeeded thus far.
Our Values and Goals
Our first step was to agree upon some key terms that we felt should guide the growth of our company. We then incorporated those terms into a succinct statement: Our core values are to help people achieve life skills in a collaborative way with analytical and individualized plans that are based on socially significant, empirical data and which are enacted in the utmost ethical way. But what do those terms mean in practice, when it comes to how Waypoints operates on a day-to-day basis? And how does this client-centered mission apply to our workplace interactions with each other?
- Collaborative: We involve our clients and their families in every step of the services we provide, from setting goals, to agreeing upon what activities will help to meet those goals, and ultimately to determining whether the goals have been mastered. We also collaborate with each other – technicians who spend the most time with clients during sessions share their thoughts and suggestions with supervising clinicians, who in turn consult with each other on an ongoing basis.
- Analytical: This is right in the name of the science governing our field of practice – behavior analysis! It is also one of the seven guiding principles of ABA. To be analytic means to make decisions based upon data, in a way that allows us to feel confident that those decisions are what directly influenced changes in behavior. More generally, this term reflects our reliance on data rather than guesswork or trial and error. This extends to our practices of determining when employees are ready to work with clients independently following their training, conducting regular performance evaluations, and providing supplemental training and support as needed based on those evaluations.
- Individualized: Our professional ethics state across numerous codes that all services provided by behavior analysts must “meet the diverse needs, context, and resources of the client.” ABA isn’t implemented like reading a recipe from a cookbook – every aspect is based on the unique circumstances of each individual client. Those same ethical codes also specify that supervision, training, and feedback should be tailored to the needs and preferences of each employee, just as we individualize services for clients!
- Socially significant: As covered in an earlier blog post in more detail, social significance means that our services must result in improved quality of life for our clients based on their own self-assessment and satisfaction. If the data that we collect show improvement, but our clients are unsatisfied with the progress, it wasn’t socially significant enough! By the same token, if our employees have suggestions or critical feedback, those are taken seriously regardless of what corporate metrics might indicate.
- Empirical: Empiricism is a philosophical foundation of behavior analysis, and it means that we rely on what can be observed in the real world. It’s important to note that while thoughts and feelings are often only observable by the person experiencing them, they absolutely still count under that umbrella! In practice, this means that we highly value working directly with our clients, rather than making decisions only based on other people’s reports or opinions. The same goes for supervising employees during actual sessions with clients, not just “office hours.”
- Ethical: One could argue that all of the above fall under our intention to act ethically and with integrity. In uncertain circumstances, we’re always able to reflect upon our professional ethics codes for guidance. As noted above, those codes apply to interactions with clients as well as with each other.
Those are our values and goals here at Waypoints, agreed upon before we even had a name, and I believe we’ve continued to act in accordance with them! It’s important to us to practice what we preach, with both clients and employees.
Company culture can also be exemplified by what the actual working environment looks and feels like. Are we cool and collected? Silly and loud? Since we don’t have a central office location and instead interact with each other primarily online or one-on-one in clients’ homes, we don’t have as clear of an “identity” in that sense. With that being said, our ongoing group chat is upbeat and casual, with a steady flow of pet pictures, animated GIFs, and exciting announcements. Just in the last week we celebrated a new cat, a first-home buyer, and ice baths in Lake Superior during the Michigan Ice Climbing Fest.
I was curious about how COVID-19 and the associated increase in remote work may have affected the concept of company culture, and as a behavior analyst, I couldn’t resist looking up some data. According to Google Trends, interest in company culture has been growing very steadily over time. The immediate dip in April of 2020 tells a vivid story, though!
I believe that an organization can still foster a community amongst employees working remotely, and I think we’ve been able to do so here at Waypoints.
A positive and inclusive work environment can create a sense of belonging and teamwork, and this can be achieved even purely online by promoting open communication, celebrating diversity, providing opportunities for growth and development, and recognizing and rewarding efforts. We pursue these goals with a highly emphasized open door policy and easy face-time with management, regular sharing of educational resources and professional development opportunities, and a shout-out channel (along with careful attention to how each employee actually likes to be recognized). A good quarter of our employees actively prefer not to be publicly praised, but perhaps unsurprisingly, everyone loves a monetary bonus!
Ultimately, our company culture at Waypoints is grounded in the understanding that any workplace should be just one facet of a person’s life. Many of us enjoy sharing aspects of our personal lives with each other, but it is not at all expected and a preference for privacy will always be respected. We’ve gotten together to play trivia games online, share some delicious meals, and even plan on attending a performance of the band of one of our behavior technicians – but these opportunities exist for those who enjoy them, not as mandatory socialization! I believe it is very possible to do a job well and enjoy one’s work while maintaining that boundary if desired.
Recently, an employee resigned from Waypoints when they determined that the position was just not quite right for them. ABA careers can require a lot of energy and patience, and sometimes maintaining a good work/life balance isn’t possible, despite the best efforts of a company and the employee alike. They were a valued member of our team, and their parting words (which I requested permission to share) touched me deeply by their indication that we seem to be achieving what we set out to do when it comes to care and support for our employees, even when things don’t work out in the end.
“Waypoints has been the best company I’ve ever had the privilege to work for. Every single person who works here has been so incredibly supportive throughout the time I’ve worked here. Each time I’ve brought up an issue I was having, one or more people would be right there to offer advice or suggestions—or would fix the problem. The pay is fair for the work I do, my supervisor has been amazing at answering questions in a comprehensive way, and I feel that I’ve been more supported here than any other company I’ve worked with.”
I will be keeping that quote pinned up on my corkboard as a reminder of why we do what we do.
Want to Join Us?
Company culture plays a vital role in the success and sustainability of an organization, and I think it has contributed significantly to ours here at Waypoints. If it sounds like a community that you would thrive in, I hope you’ll reach out to us at https://waypoints.life/careers!
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Get in Touch With Waypoints
Whether you’re looking for diagnostic testing, one-on-one in-home ABA therapy and skill-building resources, or simply want to learn more about our unique approach, please don’t hesitate to reach out! (We love getting mail.)