If you have worked different jobs, then you probably also have worked different hours. You probably even have a preference for what hours you like best.
A relational approach to work scheduling however, does not just consider the effect on staff but also how it affects young people and their wellbeing.
It is not easy when the day is interrupted but changing shifts, when the support you provide is paused to be picked up another day, or when there is a “end time” set by the workday that does not align with the needs of young people.
When both things are considered, you create an environment where relationships can flourish.
Relationships cannot be built without consistency; work patterns are a central way that consistency can be established. Consistency and reliability improve the wellbeing of young people both mentally and physically by reducing stress. The effect of that can be a calmer environment and calmer people.
Even for staff members the stress of an unsuitable shift pattern can be physically and mentally taxing. Research has shown again and again, that working changing shift patterns is detrimental to the health. Staff can therefore benefit from consistent patterns as well.
The best pathway to improve shifts and work patterns is through critically reflecting the reasons that a certain pattern was established. Who does that pattern serve? Is it for the benefit of the organisation, the staff members or the young people? In some cases, a justification for the current work pattern might not even be remembered, it is simply ‘how it has always been done’.
Qualities of relational work patterns:
Meeting the needs of the young people, for example:
Relationships are an important part of everyone’s life. For example, everything we learn as children depends on others teaching us. But did you know that good relationships also have an influence on our physical and mental health (Griffith, 2017)? Relationship-based practice combines what we know about childhood development, trauma, resilience, and relationships to promote the best for children and adolescents.
Early life experiences shape our mind and body in ways that we are understanding more and more, especially when these experiences are traumatic. Trauma-informed practice takes this knowledge and creates a holistic framework for practitioners and organisations to create healing and safe spaces and ways of working.
First introductions matter. It matters when, how and where they happen. Many young people speak about transitions are often the most difficult times. In this Guide we explore how transitions can be done from the lens of relational practice.
What do IT systems and relationships have in common? Both usually run in the background and are easily taken for granted. Perhaps surprisingly, IT systems can have a big influence on the quality of relationships and relational practice in general.
When you know your goal you do whatever you need to do to reach it. But what if you defined the goal in the wrong way? In this Guide we explore how the goal affects your actions and how you can make sure that you are measuring your success in the right way. Are you meeting an outcome or are you filling a need?
Organisational values influence the working culture. They can inspire workers to follow the organisation's mission. However, for them to have an impact they need to be developed with staff and young people.
It is important to keep learning and growing. Recognise your staff’s value and expertise by developing internal training and discussion sessions. Enable staff to learn and train more. Training should not be a tick-box exercise but a place for growth and reflection.
As is often said, hurt people hurt people – it is even more important to consider the flipside: supported people support people. Working with young people and caring for them can be a demanding role, especially in under-resourced and stressful environments. A truly relational organisation also invests in the relationships between managers and staff, creating a positive environment for everyone.
Relationships do not just depend on one person, but rather on a network of people and the culture of an organisation. Sometimes one person who simple ‘doesn’t get it’ can put barriers in the way for an entire team to become less relational. So, it’s easy to see why recruiting the right people is so important to create and maintain a relational organisation.
All relationships take time and effort to build and develop relationships with young people with care experience is no exception, perhaps being even more difficult due to their backgrounds however with the right understanding and approach you could develop a strong and positive connection which will benefit both you and your young person.
Relationships are essential to all parts of life and encompass both our professional and personal lives. They are a vital part of the support networks for our young people and the stronger the relationship the better we can all do our jobs, perhaps making them feel less like a job and more like a vocation. And perhaps more importantly, the stronger the relationship the more important a young person might feel.