Changing social care: an inclusive approach
Workforce involvement and participation - Establish a structure that encourages engagement
- Consider how the current structure might help or hinder the planned changes.
- Make sure that whatever structure is in place genuinely supports two-way communication.
- Real participation of both the workforce and the wider stakeholder group, including people who use services, is best achieved through a more ‘horizontal’ or ‘circular’ structure.
What was clear from the case studies is that there was not a superior structure; rather, organisations need to establish roles and boundaries in a way that will maximise employees’ sense of empowerment and “being heard”, yet provide enough support and structure to enable them to get their jobs done(SCIE Knowledge review 16).
…even in my induction they asked me what my impression was: what did I think about it, how did I think it was, did I think things had improved. Even at that stage I was being asked to contribute. I got the impression that if I said, “I wonder if it could work,” it would have been noted. So it’s being asked for your ideas(member of staff, Age Concern Sheffield) (SCIE Knowledge review 16).
The feeling of empowerment embodied by Willowbank staff and service users stemmed in part from their structure and overlapping job roles. The structure in Willowbank is viewed by staff as more horizontal (or circular) than vertical. Directors, service users and support workers all make an equal contribution to the purpose, management and direction of Willowbank. In terms of job roles and boundaries, no one individual has exclusive ownership of a task. The overlap of individuals as service users, workers and board members also contributes to this structure. In Willowbank there is one team, and the fluidity of staff roles ensures they are all engaged in the workplace: ‘We all mix around and help each other out’ (Willowbank staff member). For example, anyone can answer the telephone, anyone can contribute to budget planning and anyone can make the dinner. There are, of course, individuals who have particular skills (e.g. financial), but these skill sets do not mean exclusive ownership of financial tasks and nor do they represent permission for other staff to ignore financial issues in their everyday work. Teamwork ensures that skills are shared and all those in the centre work together(SCIE Knowledge review 16).
How we know this
- Involvement at all stages increases individuals’ sense of control, and may be particularly crucial for people at lower levels in an organisation (Fauth and Mahdon 2007; Lines 2004).
- Involvement of all members of the workforce at all stages of change will increase the view that the organisation is based on a sense of fairness – both in terms of the decisions that are made and the reasons for change (Daly and Geyer 1994).
- Organisations with structures enabling open communication, cross-functional teams and flexible management structures maintain better performance and individual satisfaction levels through times of significant change. The presence of a ‘team champion’ to support change also helps (Guha et al. 1997; Shortell et al. 2004).