As it is the norm and practice, ICAS has just held its 14th annual conference for all international ICAS partners and licensees. I was fortunate to attend my second ICAS International conference, held on June 9 – 13, in picturesque Amsterdam. Eigthty seven (87) Delegates from twenty (20) countries Attended. ‘These conferences are a key part of the life of ICAS internal’ says Stephen Galliano, CEO ICAS International. The key purpose of these conferences is to get together to learn and be abreast of new developments in the field of employee assistance and wellbeing programmes, share experiences from the various countries, debate these against best practice and of course innovate the services we offer as part of continuous improvement and in order to remain relevant to the client needs.
The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Diversification, Growing our Future.’ it goes without saying that in order to diversify your product offering, we need to be innovative and think outside the box. It is therefore through these gathering where the ICAS family put our thinking hats together under one roof to critically evaluate our services against their promised client value proposition. Against the current market needs we discuss leveraging our resource and skill base to craft the way forward through more innovative cutting edge and strategic products and services that deliver on our promise.
At ICAS we put a lot of emphasis on our values of Integrity, Belief in People, Innovation and Intelligence. One way of ‘living’ the values is through standards of practice. Standards provide clear expectations to clients and potentials for services rendered and also facilitate maintenance of quality and consistency of service and its delivery. The Clinical Standards have been up and running for years and are successfully implemented. The Global Account Management Standards on the other hand are less developed, hence the conference (commercial stream) spent time discussing the review of these standards with the view of finalising this review by end of 2014. To that end a collaborative committee has been put in place to see this exercise to finality. This exercise could not have come at a better time – the need to diversify simply means that the account manager, the liaison between ICAS and the client, has to be in the least, able to listen to customers and hear them in terms of where they want to take their organisations. It also means that the account manager has to have the intelligence to do thorough environment scanning if we are to create solutions relevant to the prevalent market gaps and challenges. Training and further skilling of our account managers is critical and the collaborative committee will be exploring additional ways to enhance this across the group.
The other key focus of discussions was measurement. This is always a hot discussion point. The need to show the impact and value of our programmes is of critical importance to us as well as our customers. ‘If you cant measure it, you cant monitor it’. As such, we spent considerable time discussing and reviewing our current measurement tools. Olympus, our backbone M&E tool, was discussed at length, and the updates and future enhancements were presented and reviewed. CORE, the clinical outcome measuring tool was also discussed. This tool, administered initially and at the end of therapy, measures the impact of the intervention (counselling and advice) on the work performance (workplace impact measure). This way the value of the programme in terms of improvement on performance following therapy is shown.
A second client forum was held again this year following the success of the initial one last year. This provides an opportunity for us to interact, particularly with our global clients on their experiences with EWPs, explore their challenges and successes. Most importantly discussions are held as to where they would like to take their programmes in the future so that we can reshape / review our products and services to to suit these.
We are now all back at our stations incorporating the learnings with the hope of further enhancing our current programmes, delighting our clients and attracting prospects.
Dr Onalethata Johnson