Consultation – it’s meant to be 2-way
When I tell Clients at the beginning that there’s a law saying they have to consult with their workforce the usual response is ‘Wait…What?!’
This is rapidly followed by some kind of fudge – for example, ‘Well, yes we have an ‘open door’ policy. This probably isn’t what legislators had in mind when they formulated the consultation laws.
Many organisations consider ‘consultation’ to mean: do you tell your staff what’s expected of them. Obviously this is only half the picture, they’re also supposed to show that they’re being open and responsive to feedback from their employees.
Although no-one is ever likely to be prosecuted for not consulting with their workforce, that’s not the only reason for setting up a good system for achieving this.
Not least is that having something more robust in place will serve as mitigation for most workplace injury cases. On the less cynical side, many ‘coal-face’ workers have a myriad of good ideas that would improve systems, but often keep it to themselves because they don’t have a mechanism to be heard or assume no-one is interested in what they’ve got to say.
This is the ‘management knows best’ or ‘better not rock-the-boat/annoy the boss’ school of thought and clearly belongs in a stagnant business which is unlikely to be agile enough when normal business circumstances change.
What ideas are out there?
On my travels, it’s extremely rare to see anything new being set up for consultation – same old ‘we have a casual get-together roughly monthly, but of course it hasn’t happened for a year or so, and we don’t keep a record’!
I can remember only one organisation in the last 15 years who had an employee consultation and feedback mechanism that was robust.
But what if it’s as easy as having a PC desktop shortcut? (even if it’s a shared PC which individuals can log into).
Go on…Try It!
Recently we’ve set up a simple ‘Safety Feedback’ link within our online template system that employees could use to feedback ideas direct to management on, for example, the organisation’s policies, specific risk assessments (or method statements), or ‘any safety ideas’ at all.
Once submitted, an email could automatically go to any manager who could then record within the system what they did about it. They would then give a response outside of the system to the employee thanking them for their contribution.
We’ve also set up a separate, but linked, ‘Policy/Induction’ link for you to try. This could be used for the organisation to show that their policies are available to view by anyone, as well as make and keep a record of new staff induction information. No more dusty folders in the general office containing ancient copies of policies long-since superseded.
We can set this system up for anyone who engages us to do so – the costs are relatively minimal (our hourly rate to demonstrate, then adjust and transfer the templates over, plus you’d need a basic subscription to the form-builder company so that you can keep the system running (currently standing at $15/month)).
Just the beginning…?
Other forms are also available which we can demonstrate if you get in touch e.g. DSE, Activity Risk Assessments, In-house Training Records – the list goes on. We even use the system ourselves to take new Clients through a ‘General Risk Assessment’ scoring exercise, as well as to simplify the process of putting together a suitable H&S Policy.
WFH (not to be confused with WTF)
In these days of Working From Home and peripatetic workers it’s quite a struggle for any organisation to gather workers together in order to hold ‘consultation meetings’- and then go on to retain proof that they do actually consult with their workers.
Using our online system, managers back-at-base (or even WFH themselves) can receive general ideas for improvement, or any kind of risk assessment that employees have filled in and respond as necessary.
Don’t let your consultation mechanisms get forgotten or become rusty, contact us to have a look at how a simple system could be set up.