Being an effective manager Learning resource
Workplace committees and meetings
A Disability Business Service may have a range of committees operating at any one time including boards of management, worker committees, occupational health and safety committees, quality assurance committees and standards committees. Business services are actively seeking to make committees representative and are involving staff in workplace committees.
Supported employees may need additional training and assistance when working as part of a workplace committee. For example, meeting agendas and minutes may need to be provided in Easy English, and governance issues will need to be explained in terms relevant to the employee. Managers and supervisors may be required to explain committee processes, including nomination for membership and responsibilities to supported employees, as well as providing ongoing support during a supported employee's membership of a committee.
In broad terms, the process of setting up an effective workplace committee that involves staff can be time consuming. The rules and guidelines about membership should be clear and communicated to all employees and the committee structure reflective of organisational needs. Of particular importance is that committee members be familiar with their role. To meet this need appropriate training may need to be offered.
Case study: Hearing from everyone
SouthWest Enterprises, a Disability Business Service, had embarked on an ambitious plan to introduce a new style of management. The service had been operating for 27 years with 125 employees across five departments. Over the years it had substantially diversified and now offered an office cleaning service, house cleaning service, gardening service, bulk post distribution and a laundry service.
In a bid to increase employee participation in decision-making, workplace committees were formed. There was quite a bit of interest from staff about how the new practices would be put into place and Greta Taysmith, the CEO, was keen to see some evidence of the practices at work as soon as possible. She recognised that many of the practices that had developed over the years were not going to help SouthWest Enterprises move successfully into the future. She requested that a Quality Improvement Committee be established that was representative of the employees at South West.
The committee membership included:
- employees from across the different departments at SouthWest
- representation from management, supervisors and supported employees
- a mix of males and females
- a representation from different racial and ethic groups.
All employees were invited to nominate. Managers and supervisors were provided with briefings about how they could explain the committee requirements and operations to supported employees.
1. What suggestions would you make to ensure that committees in your workplace involved employees?
2. What assistance would employees in your workplace need in order to work effectively as a committee member?
Involving employees in workplace committees requires planning to ensure time and skills are best used. Training and development activities can assist employees to gain the skills needed to work as effective committee members.