UWSF@Work should be carried out first at your United Way and then at local nonprofits and businesses. Implementing UWSF@Work internally promotes stronger families among your employees and allows you to gain first-hand experiences with the strategy before selling it to local businesses.
- Establish Communication. Communication plays a major part in the success of UWSF@Work. Your United Way will establish an open line of communication with human resource staff, who will then mediate communication between management and employees.
Keys to Success
- Employees need to understand that all levels of management approve of their participation.
- UWSF@Work requires cross-functional work. For local United Ways this means Education talks to Income, Income talks to Community Impact, and so on. At United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, the CEO introduced and spoke about Strengthening Families at staff meetings and encouraged staff to participate, as well as sent multiple company-wide e-mails encouraging employees to take advantage of MAPS activities.
- Conduct a Workplace Review. Conversations with HR are critical to identifying what supports are available to employees and what common needs might exist. You might team with your HR contact to offer assistance with data collection mechanisms such as:
- Informal conversations. Talking with human resources staff as well as employees early on in the process can help you get a feel for what issues are on people’s minds and what common concerns exist.
- Systematic review of human resources. Taking a close look at existing HR policies, offerings, and employee benefits will provide an understanding of what is offered to employees and how those resources and policies might support UWSF.
- Self-Assessment for Human Resources. Using this self-assessment tool can help you focus the workplace review on if and how well a business is doing addressing the aspects of the Strengthening Families approach.
- Employee surveys and focus groups. Keep in mind that most workers have participated in workplace surveys that led to no changes, so it needs to be stressed from the outset that UWSF@Work is different. Focus groups are a wonderful way to uncover needs. Use a skilled facilitator (whom employees trust) to lead each session. The sessions should have a specific topic, a few open-ended questions to guide the discussion, and a note taker or recording device.
Keys to Success
- Some suggested topics might include health, financial stability, children and youth, aging parents, or more direct questions such as “What is a family-friendly workplace?”, “How would you be different if we balanced work and life?”, and “What would be different about the workplace to make that happen?”.
- Emphasize that UWSF@Work is about and for employees. Promise and ensure confidentiality on the part of all who partake and facilitate.
- Self-defined solutions are an important part of these activities. UWMA employees who partook in the focus groups bear this out. Some went on to form peer-support groups around similar life-transition experiences like parenting. This changed the way they see—and feel seen by—their employer.
- Workers might be cautious of opening up their family life at work either for privacy, fear of repercussion, or other reasons.
- Identify Participant Outcomes. Use the results of the workplace review to create a list of desired participant outcomes. These outcomes might include changes in the lives of employees, reduced stress, greater job and life satisfaction, increased productivity, reduced child abuse and neglect, better communication among employees, and worker retention.
Key to Success
- Keep in mind that during the workplace review process workers were developing self-defined solutions, so you should have plenty of ideas to work with.
- Identify Strategies. All of the information gathered during the workplace review will mean you’re ready to identify strategies. We encourage you to work through and establish a logic model to ease the implementation and evaluation of your changes such as an evaluation plan, goals, and desired participant outcomes. Take into consideration two levels of change, one that gives employees more responsibility and more accountability and the other that provides employees more support.
Keys to Success
- Changes that give employees more responsibility and accountability include increased job autonomy, more involvement in management decisions, and a more flexible workplace.
- Employee support might include: redefining space, employer offered on-the-job learning experiences, more coworker and management support (for work, personal, and family life), matching company benefits to the interests and needs of your employees, resources to increase work-life balance (work-life balance training, access to local resources, etc.).
- Sample logic model.
- Promote Existing Supports. It’s possible that the existing employee benefits package already provides many services, discounts, and supports that go untapped (i.e., pretax child care, employee assistance, FMLA rights). Sometimes people aren’t aware of what benefits exist or aren’t able to easily access them.
Keys to Success
- Rather than only discussing employee benefits during new employee orientation, consider holding an informational session for any employees that wish to review what benefits exist.
- Remember to highlight what United Way already does for employees.
- Negotiate Additional Resources. Use the findings from the workplace review to negotiate additional resources and information on behalf of the employees. This is the time to create stronger community ties and link the business and its employees to community partners that can address their needs. Make sure you help create a sustainable and feasible solution with HR and management—whether it is setting up a lunch-n-learn series, a resource library around a topic (or topics), establishing flex-time work, or meeting some other shared employee need.
Keys to Success
- Recognizing the resources that currently exist and encouraging additional company support will help create momentum for this pivotal step.
- Some employer supported resources will require a cost to the business, such as designating a fulltime quiet room as opposed to simply allowing existing common area space to be used for discussions that are life and not work related.
- Evaluate, Learn, and Improve. Document what you got done (did the work climate perception improve, etc…) and use it to refine future approaches. Consider what measures you can develop or use to evaluate the effectiveness of the following:
The Individual or Family
- Increased individual/family resiliency
- Increased self-sufficiency
- Increased knowledge and access to community resources
- Changes in policy and practice
- Shifts in organizational culture
- Increased employee retention
- Increased productivity
- Increased collaboration
- More comprehensive results for the families they serve
Evaluation will be critical to the success of you program and will allow you to demonstrate the impact of your project. For more information see the Planning and Evaluation sections.