15th May 2017 Written by Skills for Health

Image: Learning at Work Week.Learning at Work Week runs this year from the 15 -19 May and Skills for Health will again be using it as an opportunity to focus on the development of its staff and the organisation; sharing what they are doing to encourage other organisations to do the same

Christina Pond, Executive Director of Policy at Skills for Health looks at why Organisational Development programmes are effective and the benefits they can provide to staff:

What is Organisational Development?

Organisation Development (OD) can be defined as a systematic organisation-wide approach to increase an organisation’s effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organisation's processes. In essence therefore, OD is a planned system of change. It provides an opportunity to align strategy, staff and process, make sure your organisation is fit for the future and aims to create an environment for employees to develop their own skills and understand the fit between organisational and individual objectives.

Why do you think it’s important for organisations to have development programmes?

Staff are an organisation’s most valuable resource and ensuring that they have the necessary skills and competences to perform at an optimum level creates business benefit. An emphasis on organisational development ensures that you develop and promote a culture that encourages learning, at both an individual and a corporate level, so that strategic objectives are understood and translate into individual action.

Do you think Organisational Development is particularly important for the health and justice sectors?

Development opportunities for staff are beneficial, regardless of sector or the nature of the business and this is no less true in public facing services sectors. In the health and justice sectors staff are often working in challenging situations that require them to take responsibility for decisions and actions involving vulnerable individuals. Organisations need to ensure that staff are trained to manage these situations competently and compassionately. The culture of the organisation needs to support staff to do this and also to learn from mistakes.

How involved are you with Skills for Health’s development programme?

I’m the Executive Lead for Organisational Development. We hold events twice a year for the whole organisation and offer activities and opportunities for staff to learn and update their skills and knowledge. These days are really important in our calendar as they give everyone the chance to engage with their colleagues and learn about the range of work being taken forward across the organisation. This is particularly important for an organisation like ours, where staff are often geographically dispersed with limited opportunities to meet face to face. These days give them a chance to share ideas and experiences.

As well as these events, we have an appraisal process in place so staff can have an ongoing dialogue with their manager about their objectives and their development needs, as well as receiving and giving feedback. Ensuring that appraisals work well and add value are of fundamental importance in the organisational development process which is recognised as a responsibility for the whole senior management team

Has there been any particularly outstanding effects following your programme?

We’ve been going through a period of considerable organisational change in recent months so it’s been more difficult to monitor the impact. However, it is vital, now more than ever, that we get our organisational development programme right. We need to make sure that our teams are brought together and feel like they are a part of one organisation with a shared set of values that underpin all that we do.

What is Skills for Health doing this Learning at Work Week?

The most important activity that we have planned for the week is to run three interactive sessions on our organisational strategy which is being refreshed to reflect the contexts in which we are operating and will define how we build and grow our business over the next five years. Our CEO, John Rogers, will be running an interactive session for staff to attend in each of our three office bases with webinar options available as well so that we can reach out to as many members of staff as possible.

Learning at Work Week is a really timely opportunity for us to get everyone involved in strategy development and invite them to ask questions, give feedback and voice any concerns, so we are all “on the same page” when it comes to the direction in which the organisation is moving.

We want people to feel ownership of the new strategy – if they aren’t invested in it, it will be hard for them to see where and why their contribution matters. This is fundamentally important to us because we know that organisations that that don’t fully engage their workforce in the business strategy will fail to produce reliable, sustainable business results.

However, getting it right and working together will result in increased staff satisfaction, great customer experience, high performance, and profitability.

Keep an eye on our progress during Learning at Work Week by following @skillsforhealth on Twitter. You can also see what everyone is up to via #Learningatworkweek

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