Human Resources Elements: Feedback and Participation
Communication sits at the hub of organizations- whether it is the performance of the organization or the individuals. The feedback and participation system at Wellness Education Services (WES) is essential in order to enhance the quality of service not only of the WES but more so in their employees.
Two approaches have emerged in the organizational communication literature in order to address the flow of feedback and participation in organizations such as WES: the traditional approach which provides for a top-down perspective and the emergent complex response process approach (see Stroh, 2007). Similar to traditional approaches to participation and communication, WES being a small organization has evolved from the traditional means of participation into a response-oriented organization that values the feedback of its coordinators and even the interns.
Under the skillful direction of Sherri Darrow, WES pushed for reforms in its organizational communication process by improving its core organizational values to involve interns, administrative staffs, coordinators and specialists as partners in improving the services of WES particularly in empowering the departments of health promotion such as tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, sexual health, nutrition and physical activity, rape and sexual assault prevention as well as stress management.
Each department is structured to have a coordinator and instituted with student/client support in order for the students of UB and other schools to be given the wellness services that they are seeking. The director being the overseer of activities in each department directly communicates with the coordinators of each department. This type of communication has proven to be effective in enhancing the participation of the coordinators as each department has pushed to be more aggressive in addressing the needs of UB students.
For instance, WES has instituted help desks, hotlines, website support and links and partnership with other agencies in order to provide better services to students. Consequently, employees of WES are also given the venue to communicate and express their needs and their families. The teams in every department and project also directly coordinate with the director of WES thereby, giving them the flexibility and the openness of communication which results to a more efficient flow of programs and outcome for students.
However, aside from the grassroots approach to communication, participation of the employees of WES is also enhanced by life and learning workshops, partnership meetings and programs and training and development at WES. Subsequently, meetings and memoranda are often not used as a tool in WES except for emergency announcements. WES therefore integrates within its system a system of communication and participation that emanates from the top to bottom and vice-versa.
This type of system among its employees is reflected in the effectiveness of the WES services in addressing wellness promotion among the students. The feedback system at WES resembles the upward or bottoms-up approach of participation in the organization. This system at WES works with the rationale that employees who directly coordinates with the students or the clients are best able to provide an evaluation on the strengths and weaknesses of the programs as well as the feedback of the students.
With these goals, WES provides an efficient evaluation system among its client-students through evaluation forms that are distributed after their sessions as well as the provision of a feedback form online. This allows the students of UB to provide unbiased assessment of the effectiveness of the organization in improving their health and wellness. Moreover, informal and casual feedbacks also occur within WES. This emanates from the open communication among the employees and coordinators and even directors.
For one, members of WES work as a team and oftentimes, in collaboration with one another. This together with a friendly organizational environment, interns and coordinators and interns and director/specialists are able to discuss and evaluate their works together before, during and after their seminars and sessions with the students. Thus, communication and participation are oftentimes initiated in the grassroots level aside from the directives and communication initiated at the management level.
WES also encourages both the formal and informal means of feedback system in order to improve their performance daily instead of the annual performance appraisals in order to initiate organizational change. For instance, a wellness instructor can directly approach his/her supervisor or manager in suggesting improvements and including elements which may be of help among their peers. This system of communication no longer necessitates formal meetings or conferences in order for one instructor to participate.
The encouraging atmosphere of communicational necessarily results in greater participation even from employees of the lowest rank. Essentially, communication at WES can be considered as open, amicable and in partnership. Thus, WES is also able to provide a feedback and participation system that benefits not only the organization but also the individuals and their peers. On the part of SA, the organization benefits from the following: 1) higher levels of productivity; 2) efficiency and continuous improvement of the organization as a whole; 3) customizing competencies of the organization; and 4) improving the services to the students.
On the other hand, employees of SA benefits from this type of feedback process in the following areas: 1) enhancing self-awareness of the employees; 2) increased levels of participation and empowerment; 3) individual growth; and 4) improved knowledge, skills and attitude. The feedback system at WES can therefore be considered as efficient and effective in improving the organization, the employees as well as the service being rendered to the students. Other area for improvements that WES can focus on is by involving the students more in the feedback system.
The evaluation at the end of the each session may not be enough in order to further enhance the processes within the organization. Moreover, participation and feedback should also be refocused based on the aligning of employees’ capabilities and competencies vis a vis that of the organization. In this way, the WES can maximize the benefits of their current feedback and participation system.
References Stroh, Ursula. (2007) Relationship and Participation: A Complexity Science Approach to Change Communication. International Journal of Strategic Communication. 1(2):123-137.