Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


11th International Conference; Dublin, Ireland; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #129
CE Offered: BACB
Current Research in Behavior Technician Turnover
Saturday, September 3, 2022
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Meeting Level 1; Liffey Hall 1
Area: OBM/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Rick Gutierrez (Easterseals of Southern California)
CE Instructor: Rick Gutierrez, Ph.D.
Abstract: Behavior Technician turnover can be both costly and disruptive to an organization. Voluntary turnover of Behavior Technicians continues to be an area of applied research that warrants additional investigation within the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Organizations are in need of evidence-based interventions that can help reduce the rate of voluntary turnover of the Behavior Technician workforce. Research available from other industries supports the use of peer mentors and employee engagement programs in mitigating turnover intention. The following symposium will review three strategies deployed to mitigate Behavior Technician turnover for an organization providing Applied Behavior Analysis to individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities. The interventions that will be reviewed include a Behavior Technician buddy program, employee engagement program, and Behavior Technician minimum base pay. The results of these studies suggest that these strategies may reduce the rate of Behavior Technician turnover.
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): Behavior Technician, OBM, Retention, Turnover
Target Audience: • Prerequisite skills for talk: o Knowledge of both single case and group research designs and how they reduce threats to validity o Familiarity with common ABA/autism agency organizational practices and processes o A basic understanding of statistical analysis is beneficial but not required o Familiarity with industrial and organizational psychology terminology would be beneficial but not required
Learning Objectives: • Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: o Identify significant variables contributing to staff turnover and retention within ABA agencies providing autism services. o Identify three different interventions that can be used to decrease behavior technician turnover within these agencies. o Solicit feedback and perspectives of their own staff or supervisees that may contribute to increasing staff morale and retention.
The Influence of Peer Mentors on New Behavior Technician Turnover
KATHLEEN E DENGERINK (Easter Seals Autism Services Southern California)
Abstract: Peer support, peer mentorship, or peer coaching and its relation to staff turnover has been evaluated across health care fields. The cost-benefit analysis of these programs suggests that an organization can have a greater cost savings advantages when deploying such programs. Furthermore, it can also act as an abolishing motivation for staff turnover, as well as reduce the actual rate of staff turnover. Peer support is a form of peer mentorship. It has been found to be a key predictor of reasons for staff to stay with an organization. While peer support have been used across other industries, it has yet to be examined with new behavior technicians within the ABA industry. This is significant as many behavior technicians are recent graduates, early in their career, and are more at risk for turnover. The current study added to the literature on peer support by exploring the influence of peer support on newly hired behavior technician and the turnover rate. An experimental design was used to demonstrate the effect of peer support on staff turnover. The preliminary results of this research indicates that peer mentorship of new behavior technicians can reduce staff turnover.
The Influence of Base Pay Compensation on Turnover
MEGHAN HERRON (Easterseals Southern California)
Abstract: Turnover of staff in the human service setting can result in disruptions to services and can negatively affect customer satisfaction. Research specific to turnover within the ABA field is scarce, but Behavior Interventionists (BIs) providing in-home ABA services to individuals with autism share many qualities found in other fields to correlate with high turnover rates such as part-time status, low wages, split shifts, and reduced hours due to client cancellations and availability changes. Previous studies have found that increased compensation can reduce turnover or intention to turnover. Caillier (2018) found that the availability of various benefits decreased intention to turnover and Buykx et al. (2010) report that both direct and indirect compensation (i.e., salary and benefits) is the most common strategy used to address turnover and retention issues. The purpose of the current study is to analyze the effects of a base pay compensation provided to those regularly scheduled at least 20 hours per week regardless of shift and appointment cancellations outside of the staff members’ control on intention to turnover and actual turnover rates of BIs providing in-home ABA services to individuals with autism.
The Role of Employee Engagement on Behavior Technician Turnover
JENNIFER J JOHNSTON (Easterseals Southern California)
Abstract: Employee Engagement is a construct widely used within Industrial Organizational Psychology. Within behavior analytic field, a concept “positive organizational behavior” was introduced which emphasized the need for more focused theory building, research, and effective application of positive traits, states, and behaviors of employees in organizations (Bakker & Schaufeli, 2008). Employee engagement as part of “positive organizational behavior” is perceived as a valuable state for employees because it was found to correlate with some organizational tactics and positive outcomes (Ludwig & Frazier, 2012). As a part of talent management, employee engagement is known to positively influence employee job satisfaction and retention (Pandita & Ray, 2018). High staff turnover rate has long been an issue in the field of ABA, specifically, for autism service providers. Preempting or preventing attrition that leads to employee retention is a priority across human services industries including autism services. However, the definition of employee engagement varies from sense of passion or commitment toward one's work to the extent to which employees put discretionary efforts into their work (Albrecht, 2015). This poses a challenge to measure the effectiveness and replication of employee engagement programs. The current study will highlight the unique challenge of using employee engagement as a treatment program for improving employee retention. Further, key positive organizational behaviors that maybe included when defining employee engagement will be discussed. Finally, the analysis of these data and intervention used to increase the rate of these behaviors will be presented.



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