Hertfordshire-based Oaklands College provides full-time and part-time courses for school leavers and degree-level courses for continuing students. In total, Oaklands supports 10,000 students from a variety of backgrounds, with programmes ranging from Arts and Media to Horticulture and Forensic Science.
WorkInConfidence is an online portal developed to help employees communicate with management anonymously; presenting the opportunity to offer suggestions and highlight issues without the fear of retort. The platform has, so far, been adopted principally through the Public Health, Retail, Finance, Leisure, and Charity sectors. Education is a new sector for the WorkInConfidence employee engagement platform.
We spoke to Ronnie Davidson, Head of HR at Oaklands College, about why he chose WorkInConfidence as the platform to develop better communication between staff and management.
“I’d used WorkInConfidence when I’d worked in HR at the NHS, which is why I decided to bring it into the college. Within the NHS, it was heavily focused on bullying and harassment, and giving people the confidence to speak up because we knew there was an issue. We don’t have the same problems with harassment at the college; at least, we won’t know until we ask those people who feel that they can’t speak up.
We believe that WorkInConfidence will allow college staff who have suggestions or ideas to speak up; those that don’t have the confidence in team-meetings to put forward alternative ways of working. I’m looking at the opportunities for the staff to generate ideas; focusing on solutions and bringing positive energy to the college.”
WorkInConfidence will be rolling out throughout the two Oaklands campuses in September 2019.
So far, Ronnie has been developing an understanding of the platform within the management team. He explained that the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and they hope that the platform will offer the type of anonymity that the broader staff body feels has been lacking with previous staff surveys.
“The whole concept has gone down well with the Principal and the Chief Exec because staff have been saying that they’d like somewhere they can go to raise concerns without the need to put their name forward. They were very keen on this platform and so was I because it shows that we listen to our staff.”
Each year an independent company conducts the Oaklands College staff survey: they compile the findings and report back to senior management.
However, Ronnie explained that the HR and management team intend to use the Pulse Survey feature of WorkInConfidence to glean regular feedback from staff throughout the year. They feel that regular feedback will help them deal with issues as they happen, rather than wait until the end of the year for the problem to have exacerbated.
“We don’t want to go in cold to a staff survey each year; not having a clue what our staff think. We want to go in having a fair idea what’s going to come back in the big staff survey.”
Ronnie went on to explain that Pulse Surveys will be one of the key features of WorkInConfidence that they will use.
“I don’t just want a platform for people to raise concerns; it’s got to be something that HR utilise to find out about the general engagement of the staff. If we can gauge feeling through Pulse Surveys rather than someone having to raise a concern, it shows that we’ve been proactive.
We’re saying “let us know what you think” rather than wait for a grievance to come through the staff survey. I think it just adds a little more reassurance for our staff.”
Ronnie hopes that WorkInConfidence will provide a platform for the less vocal members of staff who don’t have the confidence to speak up.
“There’s a group of people who are quieter or feel disengaged: this is their opportunity now to speak up. We’re not hiding anything – we want to hear from people: good, bad or ugly; whatever it may be. We want to hear from them.”
When asked about the support the college had received from WorkInConfidence, Ronnie was confident that their requirements were in good hands.
“Neil Thompson, COO, WorkInConfidence has been very supportive; he’s very quick to respond. He sounds like and he shows that he cares: if I say I’ve got a problem, he’s on it straight away”.
For more information about WorkInConfidence or any of our employee engagement products, contact [email protected]