Have you heard of Robert Owen?
Robert Owen was a and mill owner challenging the way systems could be set up to ensure a healthy and productive workforce. He was operating 40 year before Dickens wrote Oliver Twist and 90 years before the Cadbury Family set up Bournville. His workforce was from the poorest in society and alcohol, absenteeism and theft were workplace problems. He decided that he would make more money in his cotton and wool mills at New Lanark if he improved living conditions, provided childcare and education for worker’s children and communicated regularly about mill performance. He described his business as “the most important experiment for the happiness of the human race that has yet been instituted in any part of the world.”
He was experimenting with ideas well before their time operating at the beginning of the 19th Century. Two hundred years later – where is the vision and enterprise amongst those business owners or stewards who have made a link between the health and vitality of their workforce and the success of their enterprise?
Who are the “millworkers” of today? And what is the opportunity for those of us that are interested in how you create healthy businesses or not for profit enterprises where the workplace system is set up, managed and supported to deliver the very best results as well as being financially sound?
What about care and care workers? The physical and psychological challenges of working in care are considerable. This sector is filled with difficult jobs looking after people who need compassion and who can be challenging, with lots of rules and regulations, low pay, limited training and poor standards of management. In November the British Psychological Society reports research published in Psychological Medicine that states that poor working conditions can affect someone’s mental health to the same degree as unemployment – so giving rise to depression and anxiety.
We have started to look at this sector – how does the “system” need to be developed and sustained to ensure that vulnerable people receive the very best care – care that enables the best of that person’s body, mind and soul. Our experience is that workforces need to receive a mirror experience that you expect them to deliver to their “customers”. Is this achievable in care work?
The scale of challenge for the care workforce over the next 25 years is great. This challenge requires the innovation and creativity in workforce development as Owen demonstrated in his experiments of 200 years ago. We’d like to be part of exploring innovative organisation development in the care field – creating healthy workplaces which are able to deliver and sustain high standards of care.
We are on a search for organisations who are achieving this standard of care because their “system” is designed to deliver that standard. What makes up and sustains the “system”?