This section contains top-tips designed to support and improve engagement within Partner organisations.
Building and maintaining engagement with Research in Practice resources can be one of the more challenging aspects of being a Link Officer. We have brought together some top tips to support your organisations engagement.
Link Officers play a key role in promoting the use of evidence-informed practice across an organisation and we hope these tips prove useful in ensuring value from your partnership with us.
Accessing engagement statistics
Our video provides a quick overview of how you can access your organisations record of engagement from your dashboard.
Top tips for building engagement
Each of our Partner organisations work in unique contexts in terms of size, levels of support and resources available. These top tips will be helpful in supporting engagement with Research in Practice when working with colleagues across your organisation.
Co-produced with Link Officers at the adults Link Officers Annual Meeting (2019), these top tips have been grouped into three areas:
- Quick wins – things that you can do that do not require much time but grab people’s interest.
- Strengths based approaches – things to reflect and support strengths-based working within organisations.
- Most impactful – things that may take a bit more time and effort but have a good reach and get people really engaged.
If you are a new Link Officer, these quick win activities can enable you to rapidly grab people’s interest.
- Deliver a Research in Practice launch event/introduction to colleagues (your Account Manager can assist you with this) and setup a ‘stand’ of resources at key events and forums so that staff are reminded of their availability. We also recommend refresher sessions from time-to-time focusing on a key topic.
- Create a virtual/physical library space for colleagues with hardcopy/online publications and resources. This could be in a place where people pass or gather (for example, a learning hub, staff room, team breakout area). You can also distribute hardcopy publications at learning events, all staff meetings or any specific practice development focused forums.
- Include Research in Practice updates in a monthly internal newsletter and using other internal social tools. It can be helpful to think about utilising a range of service specific, practice development and learning and development communications. You can also use these useful posters and postcards.
- Include Research in Practice resources in enrolment and induction materials for new starters and those in assessed and supported year in employment (ASYEs). Ensure all new and existing staff have an online account and are aware of what is available to them. For example, you could promote this at all service events, include within a standard induction and incorporate into ASYE sessions.
- Book a room and arrange regular learning sessions (e.g. ‘lunch and learn’ or ‘stop the clock’) for multi-disciplinary teams to view and discuss learning for practice using online or recorded webinars and related resources. Over time you could support interested practitioners to coordinate their own ‘lunch and learn’ sessions.
- Promote Strategic and Leaders Briefings to senior staff, especially those who are not social workers. You can also promote resources through management and team meetings.
- Map your organisational/local training activities to Research in Practice resources and target specific individuals or teams with information on events, publications, webinar recordings and other resources which are relevant to their role, area of work or expertise. Don’t forget strategic staff and those in other roles – commissioning, finance, business support, legal teams – who are not registered workers but who still need knowledge of social care and the experiences of children and families, young people and adults.
- Make sure you attend the Link Officers’ Annual Meeting to share ideas and network with other Link Officers.
These tips support strengths-based working within your organisation.
- Have multiple Link Officers and/or Link Officer Assistants who can lead on specific areas and support one another. For example, approving events, distributing publications, meeting with Evidence Champions, offering sessions for teams.
- Hold Link Officer drop-in sessions to help colleagues to register and familiarise themselves with resources.
- Ensure to have your monthly call with your Research in Practice Account Manager (virtually or face-to-face). Make sure to tell us about your service’s priorities and your improvement plans, so we can build them into our topic planning and to help identify and signpost resources to support these areas/add value.
- Develop a team of Research in Practice Evidence Champions across different teams, who can disseminate resources and learning to diverse areas. Utilising a network of Evidence Champions can target groups of staff who have responsibility for the development and supervision of others, so that they can gain access, are kept aware of what is available, and use things that specifically support their teams. That way you can also target relevant teams with new and specific resources.
- Proactively plan the use of national webinar, workshop and conference places, for example by nominating staff to attend who can bring back and disseminate learning, or by including events on internal learning and development programme information. Make sure this includes key Partner events such as the Link Officers’ Annual Meeting, Leaders’ Forum and the Partnership Conference, bringing together the whole Research in Practice Partner network to share knowledge, and discuss emerging issues and current priorities.
- Support the development of practice networks for key professionals across different organisations.
- Have rewards and reminders of good engagement statistics. Praise colleague who have accessed resources, shared examples or where resources have made a difference, saved time, resulted in better outcomes for colleagues and people they are working to support.
- Use the additional 25 Research in Practice guest accounts by arranging access for external partners who support service delivery.
- Ask colleagues to write blogs about how they have used learning and development resources and training to support their practice. This can demonstrate best practice across the sector.
- Embed Research in Practice materials and practice tools in your organisational training.
These things that take more time and effort, but ensure a good reach and get individuals really engaged.
- Ensure colleagues have protected time for Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This could include holding a reading week, practice development week or a programme of monthly topics to focus on. Also remind colleagues they can use the CPD record and can export this to include in their portfolio or other online records. Be clear that engaging with any resource counts as CPD, it is not dependent on number of resources or time spent, and it is about relevant and impact on practice.
- Use specific Research in Practice materials to reflect on cases in supervision. Research in Practice resources can also be referenced in internal policies and procedures. For example, reference to supervision, good assessment or decision-making tools.
- Use Research in Practice as an ASYE coordinator, or as part of other relevant roles as part of an ASYE programmes to ensure that ASYE colleagues, Practice Educators and others with the practice development role are accessing the resources.
- Ask the Principal Social Worker to send out regular updates, highlighting useful and relevant resources. You could also add a short (10 min) standing item to team meeting agendas in order to tell colleagues about a resource that has been useful, had impact, or is relevant to the team (and ask team members to take turns highlighting a resource).
- Highlight resources and support individual development in teams that may not have professional qualifications (for example, early help teams).
- Strategically consider and plan Tailored Support workshops to prioritise areas that may need improvement and to support the reach and dissemination of learning.
- Develop and cascade a suite of learning resources on a specific topic to target learning.
- Incorporate the use of Research in Practice learning into supervision sessions and annual appraisals, so that it becomes standard for colleagues to use resources for their development needs.
Driving a culture of using evidence to inform practice, via encouragement to engage with resources and visible modelling from senior managers and colleagues – are all good ways for colleagues to see that the use of research evidence is supported and expected.
We hope that these top tips prove useful for building engagement within your organisation, your Account Manager will also be able to provide you with the support needed.