Staff Conference 2010
The Compass staff conference took place on 12 May at the East Midlands Conference Centre. The conference was the largest yet, bringing together 221 members of staff from across the country. Roughly half of all those who attended returned feedback forms. Here is a brief summary of the responses:
The venue was well regarded with 89% of respondents stating that it exceeded expectations. The venue was originally chosen due to the central geographical location and for the fact that the space could be utilized in many different ways. We were able to hire the entire venue for our conference, which meant we could have use of all of the breakout rooms, have the main auditorium as our main networking and dining area, but best of all; we made use of the lecture theatre which provided a great space to hold the Staff Awards Ceremony.
The only drawback was that some of the workshop rooms were not big enough to all attendees comfortable and that the workshop speakers should have been equipped with microphones to ensure everyone in the room could hear what was being said.
“I think it was a great place, great location and very now.”
“The venue was perfect for the conference with a central location for everyone who works at Compass.”
Staff from our Northern and Southern services were provided with centrally organized coach travel that picked up from central locations and travelled to the venue to arrive between 10am and 10.40. Of the respondents that travelled with the buses, 83% said that they had received a good to excellent service. However, the journeys were very long and some people had to get up very early in order to catch the bus. These comments have been taken into consideration and we are looking at ways of mitigating this by holding the conference in another region next time.
“I felt it was a great idea to organise transport for each service. It took the stress out of travelling and allowed a clear and relaxed frame of mind for the day.”
The catering was changed from a cold buffet lunch to a hot meal and choices of three dishes were provided. Those with specialist requirements were also catered for with individual dishes especially made. Over 57% said they had enjoyed the meal overall. However, some felt that the chicken was undercooked. This point was raised with management at the venue who responded with deep apologies and some money was discounted from our final bill in order to compensate. Apologies to anyone that did not enjoy this aspect of the day. We have not heard of any illnesses however!
Over 66% of staff thought that the presentations given by SMT and Trustees were over and above their expectations and excellent. The main comments were that the speeches were clear, informative, encouraging and inspiring, and provided a great insight into the politics of the current drugs field.
“I left the conference feeling energized and impressed with the presentations. The whole day gave me a feeling of being part of something and a sense of pride about working within an organisation where there is a real sense of community and shared values and aims across the country.”
“I like their passion and belief in Compass – makes me proud to work for people who care.”
“Really enjoyed this, its always informative and left me feeling quite positive, really nice to get praise from the top too!”
Some complaints were made however about the length of time given to the speakers and that this affected the allocated break times. We have taken this on board for the future conferences.
There was a mixed reaction to the workshops. Whilst 40% thought they were very good or excellent, 60% felt that their expectations were not met. These responses were mainly aimed at externally facilitated workshops, namely the De-escalation skills and the Pharmacology workshops. The general feeling was that the numbers of the groups were too high, the time was too short in order to have a meaningful discussion and the level of knowledge required was far too low.
“The de-escalation workshop was not good; very basic and role play activity was inappropriate for that length of session.”
“The de-escalation workshop was pitched at a level that was insulting to the intellect.”
“The workshop on methadone was effectively a sales pitch by a drug rep.”
However, positive remarks on all other internally produced workshops were made:
“I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting them to be a bit dull and completely irrelevant but found them both to be interesting, informative and useful.”
“The Stimulating Ideas workshop was very interesting. It was very interactive, the facilitators made the workshop interesting and informative. They also displayed a dedication to their work which was quite motivating.”
Some made comments that they could not hear what the facilitators were saying so next time we will ensure that all facilitators are given microphones. The Staff Conference committee will look to providing a wider number of workshops next time, perhaps pitched at different skill levels, to offer greater variety and smaller workshop numbers. We would like to hear from you if you or your team feels that you could facilitate one of these workshops for the next staff conference.
This year we ran the first Staff Awards ceremony. Three nominations were shortlisted in each category and a final winner was chosen by a specialist panel who made the decision based on strict criteria. Anthony Nevens won the award for Staff Member of the Year for his work on the Natural Highs Group in Selby. The York and Selby DIP team won the award for Compass Service of the Year. 76% of staff thought the awards were excellent and a great addition to the conference.
“Really good for staff morale. As it’s the first year, I imagine next years will have even more interest from services.”
“I think it’s an excellent idea to run this as it highlights exceptional efforts made by staff. The film clips were a fantastic idea as they gave the rest of the organisation an idea of why each person/team was nominated and the impression they have made on people.”
“There is some brilliant work being done throughout the services and it’s great to see that managers and peers are able to recognize this.”
There was some criticism that awards were given to Yorkshire and Humber services only. While the vast majority of nominations came from this region, we endeavoured to make the selection process as independent and fair as possible, with Trustee oversight throughout. We encourage everyone to think about nominating their team and team members in the future and hope that newly established services will have more time to develop their evidence base for future awards. The committee is also working on improved guidance for the next awards.
Finally, thank you for taking the time to tell us what you thought about the Staff Conference. We will take all comments into consideration whilst planning for the next event so we can make the next one even better!
If you would like to join the planning committee for the next Staff Conference, or have a suggestion for workshops, please contact Karen Boyle at Head Office on 01904 636374 or e-mail at email@example.com
PA to the Chief Executive