The need to better understand the sector’s shift to hybrid services

Image of Dr Seuss' thing 1 and thing 2

Today I’m going back to an earlier post to look at and expand on two of the 11 things I want and need to know more about in my work

I will come back to some of the other things next week.

Thing 1: How frontline workers view and implement technology in their daily work.

A few recent moments helped remind me that there is much work to be done here. 

It also helped me realize that when frontline workers do take time out of their direct service delivery, it’s essential to make that time very much worth their while.

What do I need to do in my own practice?

I started with my own session. Well, sessions. 

I did what I tend to do, which is to over-program. 

We didn’t have time to go into everything. In part because I want to have backup activities if the interactive stuff doesn’t pan out. This time, in both cases, we had plenty of interaction and discussion. So the stuff I didn’t cover was sent to participants after the live sessions.

I’m never sure if folks will follow up on those activities or not. It’s kind of up to them. But there may be a way for me to work in follow-up sessions based on what we didn’t cover to continue building the conversation.

We’ve done plenty of consulting and convening, but not enough to get a longitudinal or baseline perspective (similar to the leaders above). This is perhaps one of the most important groups to continue to consult with. I’ve been doing this piecemeal with some clients, where we gather in teams to talk about:

  • What works well in a digital/hybrid model? 
  • What works better in person?

They’re simple questions. But they generate incredible conversations and depth. 

I asked about these in my online session on February 7th. The answers are wide-ranging, sometimes contradictory, but very rich. And aligned with previous conversations I’ve had with other sector folks. I say contradictory because everyone’s experience is different. That diversity is equally important to capture. In part to expose folks to other points of view and experiences. Too often we can get caught up in our experience being the experience.

I need to find some time to start organizing them into some broad categories to continue furthering and refining the discussion. 

This is why I find getting people to rate and address some myths and assumptions when it comes to hybrid service delivery to be equally useful.

We need to have discussions where everyone can share their knowledge, and work together.

Another important area that needs more focus is on collecting good ideas and promising practices in the sector. It’s not happening enough. And everyone wants to know what everyone else is doing. Knowledge mobilization, or whatever we want to call it to get supported and invested in, needs to happen sooner rather than later.

I think I can add these questions to my next thing, which is a sector survey. It would probably be useful to have these broad categories.

Thing 2: How we’re all doing in the sector.

We need to have these conversations, but also about people’s mental health. The health of the sector had a working group once at the national level, and it’s something that has fallen off the radar in a meaningful way. It needs to be back in focus and is also something we need to be checking in about and baselining every year.

I’m adding questions about well-being to a follow-up survey from my COVID & Canada’s Settlement Sector survey from March 2020. The goal is to release the new survey in March this year, to mark three years since the sector went online and remote because of COVID. 

What is essential to ask about this time?

There have been a number of surveys and consultations over the past 3 years. Many of them cover some of the ground in our original survey. Some of our questions were not addressed. A few of the surveys are national, some are regional. 

Some of the regional surveys asked excellent questions that are worth asking nationally. In particular when it comes to sector and staff wellbeing. We asked broad questions about well-being last time, and they were very useful to have included. I’m incorporating some of their questions into the new survey so we have some interesting data to compare within some regions. 

It’s too long right now. But that’s a fine problem to have. Jennifer Chan of DIA and I are collaborating on the survey again. We’re coming at it with some aligned and different perspectives. But overall, I feel like we’re in the same ballpark. So whittling down the length shouldn’t be a problem. 

Jenn asked me a good question I haven’t answered yet: What would you say are your top 3 learning goals from the survey?

So, I guess I’ll figure it out right now!

  1. Understanding differences between frontline and leadership perspectives.
  2. Getting a sense of sector and frontline wellbeing
  3. Understanding how the shift to hybrid service delivery is going across the sector and what folks need.

I think, as Jenn has pointed out, that having some of this as national data will be useful. If we get this survey right, it’s something we can start sending out yearly.

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