What do public and employee engagement have in common?
On 12 May the Good Practice Exchange held a webinar with ideasUK, the Ministry of Defence and the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community on Staff Ideas. In this blogpost, Dyfrig Williams looks at the key messages for both staff and public engagement.
When working for Participation Cymru, I was always struck by how the organisations that tended to be good at public engagement were the same ones that were good at staff engagement.
It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the themes that came out of the Staff Ideas webinar are worth bearing in mind when involving the public in decision making. Some of the key issues from the seminar overview video below, fit nicely with Participation Cymru’s National Principles for Public Engagement in Wales.
With both public and staff engagement, people understandably feel like they’ve been let down when the changes they’ve been hoping for don’t take place. It’s important that we let people know what’s up for grabs – what can happen, and what can’t, and also when that might be. For complex changes, they might be able to be put into practice for some time. By setting the scope of what can happen at the start of the exercise, you’re in a much better position to make sure that the process is an empowering one where people feel that they can make a difference.
Zufi Yousaf of Ideas UK mentioned the importance of transparency, so that people can see whether their ideas are being considered and how they’re being taken forward. If people can see how the system operates and how their input will be considered, then they are more likely to trust the process as they can see that their time is not wasted by contributing to the exercise.
When I asked people why they didn’t get involved when public services asked for their opinion, the response was almost always that the organisation didn’t do anything as a result. I can empathise with that because in the years that I spent responding to consultations, I never heard back from anyone about the effect it had had. If we want people to tell us how we can improve services, we must acknowledge their efforts and let them know what action will be taken.
Missed the webinar?
If you didn’t catch the webinar the first time around or if you’d like to watch it again, it’s available to view on the Wales Audit Office Vimeo channel. Our Storify also contains the social media interaction during the session. There’s lots of useful ideas that are well worth bearing in mind, whether you’re looking to find out what the public think about your work, or if you’re looking to find out from staff how you could improve your service.