The research centre recently held a school-wide forum using the World Café format to bring together the different and diverse research ideas and interests of the staff members. The aim of the forum was to determine where researchers whose research didn’t quite match the centre’s main groups could fit in and perhaps establish a new research group, so that that centre would be better able to provide assistance where possible. An additional aim was to raise awareness about the type of research that is going on in the school so that individuals with similar research interests would have opportunities to collaborate.
Some of the main research themes which were topics of discussion included employee engagement and employee voice, HRM and innovation, diversity and inclusion and gender in management, information business employment practices, HRD and leadership development, and good work, decent work, and meaningful work. Researchers whose main interests did not fall into these themes grouped together to discuss how their expertise might be used, such as experimental methods and a taking a more interdisciplinary approach to research collaboration. Overall, we felt that the forum was a success and enabled the centre to establish what other researchers in the school would find most useful in terms of support, including research and funding opportunities, career development, writing and publishing, as well as sharing expertise in methodologies.
On the 13th of March, 2018, the Centre hosted an HR Forum inviting practitioners from various organisations to attend and discuss the outcomes of the first phase of the CIPD funded research on employee voice. Instead of merely disseminating our findings in front of a PowerPoint, it was decided that we would use a World Café methodology. This method is a simple, effective, and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue and facilitates active participation from everyone involved. To get everyone in a state of mind which was focused on employee voice, we developed a simple diagnostic tool using some of the concepts we tested for in the main regional survey, such as promotive voice, human voice, and silence. Attendees were asked to compare their own scores against the person sitting next to them, and discuss the context which they believe might have been the cause of their scores, such as seniority, tenure, and sector.
Next, the World Café began in earnest and attendees moved around the venue to talk about specific aspects of voice and underlying questions. Some of these included ‘My voice – how can i increase the likelihood that my voice influences change at work?’ and ‘Promotive voice – how can leaders prevent the burn-out associated with promotive voice?’. Overall, we felt – based on both our experience and attendee feedback – that the format worked well. Practitioners expressed strong interest in keeping in contact with further updates, and some organisations initiated talks about being part of further research on voice.