Ingredients of a positive workplace.

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

Last fall, a behavior analyst by the name of Ronit Molko, PhD, BCBA-D, published an article in Forbes on staff turnover in the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) industry.  She noted that staff turnover across sectors is at its highest point in a decade, and for ABA it can be high as 75% for Registered Behavioral Technicians (RBTs), but lower for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).  Furthermore, as we have mentioned elsewhere, turnover for RBTs could cost as much as $5,000 per person, and into the tens of thousands for BCBAs.

However, there are a few things you can do to help ensure such costs are mitigated as much as possible.  In a recent video by Brett DiNovi & Associates, Brett discusses elements of a good place to work, and as the owner of the largest ABA provider on the East Coast, he should know.

Set Clear Goals

His first suggestion is to set clear goals with the help of a scorecard.  Doing so helps clarify everyone’s expectations in the company such that everyone knows what to do.  Szabo et al, (2012) published a study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management in which an intervention package involving scorecards with 11 supervisors and 56 front-line staff produced significant performance gains that maintained over time.  The authors also suggested that the system reduced the need for monetary incentives, or “pay for performance.”

The opposite of clarity is ambiguity.  Houmanfar and colleagues in JOBM have shown that ambiguity can lead to the generation of rumor and gossip which can degrade performance in an organization.  We can think of rumor and gossip as vehicles for the promulgation of inaccurate rules in an organization, which further promotes ambiguity.  If you aren’t careful, you could end up with a work force that is largely operating on rules divorced from relevant direct-acting contingencies in the workplace.

Positive Culture

As we have mentioned elsewhere, culture comprises a milieu of setting factors which occasion the behavior of those inside your organization.  Culture implies complexity, in a highly dynamic environment comprised of the behavior and behavioral products of other people, especially their language.

According to Brett, a positive culture is a supportive culture.  People establish systems of mutual support and 360 degree feedback to help everyone do better, and to lift each other up when others are down  Aubrey Daniels notion of “discretionary effort” – or people voluntarily going above and beyond their minimum work requirements – is also a sign of a positive culture.

As Brett mentioned, in the ABA industry, BCBAs are often working in isolation, spending the majority of their time in their vehicles.  When employees are spread far apart, it can risk weakening the corporate culture.  So, finding ways to mitigate those effects through technology can help close the gap and bring people together in a supporting way.

For more on what makes a positive work place, be sure to check out the full video and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube Channel.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 via email to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world,  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurialbSciWebDesignbSciWriting, and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at

Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at

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