Service Alternatives Values
Integrity, Excellence, Customer Service, Employee Satisfaction, Fiscal Responsibility, and Community
Service Alternatives is a multi-faceted human services agency with strong values. We support individuals and families of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities and provide a spectrum of services that includes employment services, residential services, in-home wraparound services, foster care, independent living support, consultation, training, and daycare.
SA currently serves over 820 people, spanning all of Washington State and, recently, parts of Oregon and Idaho. We employ over 600 people with administrative, educational, and social service backgrounds.
SA has developed a strong, consistent and highly valued set of agency foundations. These foundations are upheld in all areas of work that we provide to the community and form a small set of essential guiding principles that are not to be compromised.
Integrity refers to wholeness. When we think of integrity, we think of things such as honesty, straightforwardness, and sound moral principle. Someone has said it this way: a person with integrity is trusted because you know who she is: what you see is what you get.
SA strives to be a company that is known in this way. We want all who deal with us to know that we can be trusted, that we are honest, and that we do the right thing for the right reasons. When mistakes are made, we acknowledge them, learn from them and try not to repeat them. Our word and actions should be one.
When asked to contribute to the values discussion, an SA employee said this, "Of the values you listed, the one that is most apparent for me is integrity. It is one of the main reasons I stay with this agency. It isn't a value we talk about a lot, but the work environment reflects it. I see it as a value that is the foundation of other values. Without integrity, there is no energy behind professionalism or excellence in our work."
Excellence is being of the highest or finest quality in something—superior to others. Doing excellent work is doing work that is seen by the customer and consumer as meeting and exceeding contract expectations. At SA, doing excellent work means providing excellent care and training our staff to the highest standards. It means running programs that we would be proud to have our children or relatives in.
Excellence is most noticeable in the small things. If you preach excellence, you have to practice it everywhere.
We don't believe there is only one right way to provide human services. We do believe there is always a better way to be discovered, learned and put into practice. If someone can do the work better than we are doing it, then they should do it.
Fran Einterz, co-founder of SA, saw providing excellent customer service as the cornerstone on which to build the company back in 1983.
At the time, he saw many other vendors having adversarial relationships with the customer. He knew this was the wrong path to walk down. He believed in truly listening to the customer's needs and partnering with them to provide the best possible support to the clients we were both serving.
Our customer service is built on open and honest relationships.
We work together to achieve goals. We want all of our employees to continually seek new ways in which our work will add value to our customer and clients.
We provide the product our customers want as well as information on better ways of doing the work.
Joyce Peterson, co-founder of SA, had two goals when she helped get the company started. They were to do good in the world and to create a company where employees were treated well.
Employee satisfaction comes from knowing we are doing work that makes a real difference in the world. As we support others in pursuing their dreams, our lives are broadened and deepened.
SA strives to be a company that attracts people who are looking not just for a job, but a place where they can establish a career path and build upon the skills they learn for years to come. We are proud that the overwhelming majority of our company managers, administrators and directors initially were hired at SA in entry level positions, providing direct service to clients and communities. SA places a high value on providing quality training and development to employees, and promoting from within when possible to afford employees the opportunity for career growth. We offer a comprehensive benefits package and a generous leave plan, enabling our employees to balance their personal needs with their commitment to their work.
SA offers employees a place to be part of a diverse team, and to actively participate in the company mission, advancing their own potential while doing "good in the world."
Fiscal responsibility asks that we responsibly manage the resources that we are given. At SA, our commitment is to not only support our clients with the highest quality care and personal choice, but also to understand that sound business practice is the only way to maximize the service provided by public funds.
Profitability is not an end in itself for our company. It is a means to more important ends. As has been said other places, profit is like oxygen, food, and water for the body; they are not the point of life, but without them there is no life.
SA aims for an ethical profit margin and then, historically, has given up to half of that profit back to employees in the form of a bonus at the end of the year. The profit that remains allows SA to build new services and to continue to enhance current services within our communities.
Healthy communities are excellent places to live and to engage in the many aspects of a full life. Healthy communities have affordable and safe housing, satisfying work opportunities with livable wages, fun leisure activities, quality medical care, good educational systems, and accessible public transportation. Healthy communities also have legitimate channels for all residents to have a voice in what goes on as well as substantial opportunities for positive engagement among people of all races, cultures and religions.
SA helps make communities healthy by assisting children, adults, elders and families in building natural supports within their own communities. SA helps dispel old stereotypes and acts as a catalyst for change. We believe that communities become stronger when they celebrate the contributions of all of their citizens.
Employee teams as well as individuals looks to participate in and improve their communities.
Community also happens as teams come together around a common vision, through retreats, and in supporting one another in the work we do each day.