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 Achieving Workplace Excellence: Parkinson

For individuals or organizations to reach their maximum levels of function, they need to be driven by a mission, completely focused on metrics, and continually improving. That’s according to Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).

Parkinson participated this week in a roundtable discussion of CEOs leading a 2016 top workplace, as named by the Washington Post Top Workplaces program. Representatives from the U.S. Transaction Corp. and Insperity also attended and shared insights, among others.

For Parkinson, who leads the nation’s largest trade association of long term and post-acute care providers, success is a blend of the right mission statement and the right priorities to ensure that employees are engaged to their highest potential.
“We underwent a process early on, where we improved the mission statement,” says Parkinson, adding that he wanted to create one that all employees could remember and feel strongly about. That idea became AHCA/NCAL’s signature, one-phrase mission statement: ‘Improving Lives by Delivering Solutions for Quality Care.’
Metrics also play a role, according to Parkinson, but their effectiveness is largely underestimated by other associations. “I think what’s often missing in associations is understanding the power of metrics. Once you start measuring things you can really move the needle,” he says.
Parkinson stresses that the association does not aspire to adjectives when it formulates its metrics for the year. “Many associations want to be world class, they want to be the best. To me, there’s no way to ever objectively know if you’ve achieved that,” Parkinson says.
So each year AHCA/NCAL creates metrics that are tied to policy outcomes that would benefit its membership of 13,000 providers across the country. For example, the passage of a piece of Medicare legislation through Congress, or meeting a membership growth goal within the year, could both be metrics to achieve.
“I think the most important metric is employee engagement. If you have employees who are engaged and happy and satisfied, you’re going to be able to achieve the other metrics that you’ve set,” Parkinson says.
Speakers also shared that strong, company-led emphasis on work-family balance, use of personality assessment tools, and continuous recognition and praise are key drivers that have earned their companies a top workplace distinction.
And the best way to achieve the Top Workplaces Distinction? To not focus on it as a metric. “We’re actually not trying to be the No. 1 in the Washington Post,” says Parkinson. “It can be really artificial to manage toward that.”
Launched in 2006, the Washington Post Top Workplaces program is designed to recognize organizations with more than 50 employees who aspire to out-perform their peer groups in key areas of employment and employee satisfaction. This is the second year in a row that AHCA/NCAL has appeared on the list of top workplaces. 
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