Since late April, it has become clear to the Board that, as a mental health service, we need to do more to deliver on the expectations of our employees.
The extent of the issues with staff engagement has only become fully evident to the board since the departure of our CEO and we acknowledge more must be done to address the reports by current and previous employees of workplace culture issues and past management approaches.
We have been open with employees and funders about the challenges we are facing, and we are grateful for the support we have received from the community during this period. But in order to assure the quality of our services, we believe we must do more to support our employees and drive cultural change that delivers real results.
There are some immediate steps we are taking with our employees to help them feel better supported.
First, we are committed to a process of hearing and exploring all the concerns of On The Line’s employees (both counselling staff and those in our other teams like Growth & Marketing, Shared Services, Service Design, Clinical, Quality and Practice) and how we can address them and make the workplace more responsive to their needs.
This will include making some changes that will help our people manage their workloads. We have already identified some changes for counselling staff and will be turning our attention to staff in other teams next.
We recognise the opportunity provided by a one-on-one supervision model which supports the development of individual practice, style and strengths and will provide more targeted support. As of today, one-on-one supervision is being re-introduced, and rosters are being reviewed to permit that to happen.
We will begin to develop and introduce learning and development which deepens capability and responds to the emerging needs of our workplace, clients and funders, and which supports best practice in our models of care and support.
To help reduce the stress levels, we have removed the ‘auto answer’ function to ensure counsellors have more time to prepare when picking up a call.
These are some initial measures that will have an immediate impact on our employees, but we acknowledge there are also structural issues including those related to how we measure performance that must also be addressed.
We are committed to working with our funders to prioritise the quality of care we provide over the quantity of calls answered. Although many of our current government contracts were awarded at a fixed rate, we understand measuring contract performance based exclusively on call volumes may drive outcomes which are less than optimal for our clients and our counsellors.
The Board is committed to a governance review process, that will include external expert input and will help to guide our service review. We are examining ways that the Board can keep the lived experiences of employees front and centre in its work.
We remain committed to our vision of encouraging people to feel better and to create a life worth living and we understand this can only happen in an environment where our employees feel supported and safe in voicing their views and suggestions, which is why we are engaging our employees wherever possible.
We want to know if we are delivering on the expectations of our community, so please share your views directly via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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