Involving employees in decision-making can boost engagement, profits, and efficiency while reducing turnover and skills gaps.
Participatory management is making inroads in organizations worldwide as an innovative way to grow, thrive, and increase employee engagement and satisfaction. Now it’s moving into post-acute and long-term care, and early results are promising.
Participatory management, also known as industrial democracy and/or participative decision-making, is a management model wherein employees are actively involved in the organization’s decision-making process. While only about 5% of organizations have actually implemented the concept broadly, it’s gaining traction as a way to have engaged, innovative, and forward-thinking teams driving success. For instance, Toyota has implemented this model; and management there says about 95% of the employee-generated ideas they’ve received have been effectively implemented.
At least one home care organization has embraced participatory management with success. Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) in New York has this concept at the core of its principles. Among the goals of this effort:
- Creating good jobs for home health aides.
- Providing better wages, benefits, more stable hours, and free training to ensure they are skilled and confident in their work.
- Keeping workers as a central focus.
Some of efforts CHCA has undertaken to promote its participatory management efforts include:
- Implementing programs around coaching and professional development.
- Educating everyone on how to reach CHCA’s financial statements.
- Continually training staff and giving them the tools and resources they need.
- Enabling workers to make decisions in the moment that impact clients in a positive way.
Before you jump on the participatory management bandwagon, consider the four processes that influence participation and how they can create and enable employee involvement in your organization:
- Information sharing, including keeping employees informed about the organization’s economic status.
- Training and development opportunities to raise employees’ skill levels and allow them to apply these new skills to effective decision-making regarding the organization as a whole.
- Employee decision-making, including everything from determining work schedules to having input on budgets and/or processes.
- Rewards tied to suggestions/ideas and performance.
To implement participatory management, be ready to take five steps:
- Understand what your employees think about current management and processes. Consider implementing an organizational climate survey; or, if you have a small staff, have an open meeting over an informal dinner or after-hours get-together.
- Be more open with company information, including financials, to increase a sense of responsibility and ownership.
- Get employees involved in generating and implementing ideas and changes. Start with some brainstorming sessions to get people thinking like innovators.
- Know your team. Make sure managers know who their teams are and how to engage them. Work with team leaders to develop individual development plans for their workers.
- Track changes. Establish metrics you can track to help you determine the effectiveness of your efforts. Share successes, as well as problems and glitches, with employees so that they feel like part of the process.