There are many challenges for local authorities including increasing demand, significantly reduced budgets, expectations of adults and carers, implementation of new legislation, regulations and standards. In order to operate successfully in challenging times it is vital to have an engaged, motivated and productive workforce who have job satisfaction.
Front line staff have direct experience of important issues and therefore often can suggest practical solutions to issues that have been identified as requiring improvement
Staff employee involvement and participation is a key feature of successful organisational change along with:
- effective leadership that enables change;
- stakeholder involvement and partnerships;
- recognising and supporting diversity;
- enhancing skills and development;
- working with resistance; and
- undertaking evaluations that promote value.
2. Key Elements of Staff Engagement
There are four key elements to achieving such goals:
- senior managers who have vision and who genuinely value contributions from their staff;
- line managers who empower and listen to staff;
- organisational values and principles which genuinely underpin front line work carried out by staff, leading to a sense of trust and integrity;
- an environment where raising concerns is seen as making a positive contribution to helping the organisation improve.
Staff engagement may involve creating and maintaining a change in the way the organisation operates.
Where staff are involved in planning of organisational change, they are more likely to feel part of the improvement process and, therefore, support it. It is key that staff are consulted, heard, and considered – including those who may not initially embrace change.
‘What works in practice is best learned from those people directly involved in it. Systems and processes that encourage the sharing of learning across organisations and partnerships are the infrastructure that makes this possible.
Everyone should be encouraged to contribute to the creation of an environment that is a good place to work.’ (Skills for Care)
3. Factors for Improving Staff Engagement
The following are key factors for achieving better staff participation:
- involving staff from the outset in service re-design activities, as their involvement is likely to lead to better solutions – project leads and senior managers should ensure that staff participation has genuine impact;
- encouraging staff to work as teams – both within and between departments, which should be made up of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences;
- encouraging and praising and rewarding teams as well as individuals;
- teams and individual staff members should be able to make some decisions independently, implement them, monitor the results and feed these back to senior managers;
- try different methods of consultation and involvement to see what works best with their staff and in their particular working environment;
- feedback to staff progress and results of consultations, changes to service delivery or decisions made on the basis of their input, so they can see their views have been listened to and acted upon;
- allow for resistance to change as a normal part of change process;
- ensure that staff have enough time to be involved in developmental activities as this will lead to practice changes which will work for the authority;
- if staff are finding it hard to balance current work commitments with time for service improvements, work with them to find a solution.