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As we all know, "People-centred Care" is one of the HA's core values. While it primarily refers to our patients, it also means caring for colleagues and each other with respect.

That is indeed the essence of the enhanced staff complaint and appeal procedures. As we reported in our September 2007 issue, the Human Resources Division (HRD) at the Head Office was seeking help from a lot of staff in reviewing the way staff complaints are managed, and the Department's recently issued Circular No. 8/2010 reports that this review has now been completed.

 

     
 

Speaking up is a cultural thing
During a chat with HASLink, David Rossiter, Head of Human Resources, explained that enhancements to the complaints mechanism not only aim to provide a fair and impartial mechanism but also to support a subtle but important change in how we work — it is perhaps a change in some of our management culture.

"Staff members should feel it is safe for them to air their grievances and to speak up to their bosses. In doing so, they are in fact acting for the greater good of the organisation and in accordance with our VMV. Managers and supervisors should likewise agree that staff should be allowed to voice their opinions." David reached this conclusion after many meetings with front-line colleagues, who told him they did not always find it easy to speak up.

     
   
 

This is why David believes changes in the complaints mechanism are not so significant in themselves, but that changes in behaviour are if it means we can have all managers treating all staff the way they would wish to be treated themselves. Of course, that's not to say all managers are not good at this because certainly the majority of our leaders are great at what they do and how they lead their teams.

Fairness and transparency are two very important elements of an effective complaints mechanism. Therefore, the staff complaints management review was undertaken from the staff's perspective. Following the recommendations of a Workgroup on Complaints Management consisting of front-line staff and members of Staff Group Consultative Committees, and after further staff consultations, the HRD has designed a mechanism that addresses the concerns of staff, particularly those on the front line.

So what new features have been added to the complaint and appeal procedures to make the entire process more transparent and fair? Here are two:


Support persons
In many cases, the complainant and respondent (the staff member being complained against) will meet more than one investigator during investigation meetings. Many staff members feel uneasy about this "one against many" scenario, but they no longer need to. Under the enhanced procedures, staff members will be allowed to bring a colleague as a support person to the investigation meetings with them, so they will feel more at ease and be able to present their case freely.


A comfortable environment
People sometimes feel less confident and comfortable when speaking in a formal, if not intimidating, environment. Therefore, the enhanced procedures require the investigator or panel to provide an environment which encourages all participants to express their views fully.

As mentioned, the staff complaint and appeal procedures were reviewed in the light of the recommendations of the Workgroup on Complaints Management. We also asked Ms Yu Mei-lee, one of its members and a laundry worker at United Christian Hospital, about her views concerning the new features of the procedures. "Many colleagues are nervous about meetings with supervisors; so much so that they can't express their views fully. Therefore, a lot of them wish someone could accompany them to investigation or appeal meetings," she notes.

The enhanced procedures affect everyone in the HA. David sincerely hopes all our colleagues will read the circular to learn more about them. It can be found at ha.home (Thematic View > Circulars/Memo > HAHO Circular > Human Resources Circulars> 8/2010). If you have any enquiries, you can also call Mr Michael Ho, Human Resources Manager(Staff Relations), on 2300 6770.