Define your purpose
The commitment to develop and implement a Peer Workforce Plan should start with the senior leaders in your organisation. They need to think about why a peer workforce is needed and wanted. A clear articulation of the goals and objectives is critical to success. Some initial questions to get started could be:
- What is the overall aim of the peer workforce planning project?
- What has inspired you to create peer worker roles?
- What do you hope to achieve by creating peer workforce?
- What are the unique contributions of peer workers to your strategic vision?
- Will your peer workforce include both consumer peer workers and carer peer workers?
- How will peer workers complement existing roles?
- How will a peer workforce align with your overall strategic mission?
Scope your plan
The initial scope of your Peer Workforce Plan should focus on the major objectives, stakeholders and what is in and out of scope. Some initial questions to get started could be:
- What the peer workforce plan must deliver
- What is not included in your peer workforce plan
- Assumptions and constraints – for example, resources and budget; timelines; existing data and knowledge; existing systems and processes; strategic and operational plans. Focus on how such factors may impact on your plan
- Risks – for example, project manager under-resourced or under-skilled for the task; senior leadership loses interest
- Dependencies – actions that cannot be done until other things are put in place.
Readiness for change
Next, think about how your organisation works in the current climate so you can assess its readiness for change:
- Is your organisation ready to undergo change?
- Are you able to integrate a peer workforce?
- What external and internal influences may impact on the employment of peer workers?
Design and organise a workshop to assess these questions. The Readiness Checklist can be used to focus and direct the discussions.
Try to identify what should be in place before you start developing your peer workforce. Answering ‘no’ to any of the questions in the Checklist does not necessarily mean you are not ready to start, but it may highlight areas that will require additional time and focus.
Peer work is most effective in settings that have a pre-existing commitment to the values and principles of recovery. Peer workers may greatly enhance this commitment, but it is unrealistic and unsafe to expect them to introduce these values and principles to an organisation not already committed to them.
So, ‘get the barometer out’ and benchmark your vision, strategic planning, policies and procedures, practices and culture, in relation to:
- recovery orientation – are your services person-led and designed to support people to make individual choices, focusing on their strengths, their desires and their potential to change and learn?
- strengths-based practice – do your services focus on the person’s strengths and capacities, and on creating a plan based on the person’s goals?
- trauma-informed care – are your services designed not to re-traumatise people?
- a mentally healthy workplace – do you have HR policies and procedures to support a mentally healthy workplace?
- a family/carer aware workplace – are you aware of the caring and support roles that many employees have in their personal lives?
The Peer Work Values and Principles Info Sheet has more on these important practices.
Critical success factors
Determine the factors that are critical to the success of your Peer Workforce Plan. Are there any internal or external variables that may impact on your plan? The critical success factors of your Peer Workforce Plan may include the purpose, objectives or goals of the project. Defining these factors enables you to create a common point of reference to help direct and measure your success. A great way to tackle these questions is through PESTLE and SWOT analyses.
A PESTLE analysis is a comprehensive way to understand a range of external influences that may impact your organisation’s implementation of a peer workforce. The six PESTLE categories – political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental forces – provide a broad view of the external operational environment for your organisation. Step through the PESTLE Analysis below.
A SWOT exercise can show you how the external factors identified in the PESTLE can be considered in relation to your workforce. These external factors – for instance forces driving change – might present an opportunity or a threat to your organisation depending on the conditions. Specify the conditions that influence each possibility, particular as they relate to your workforce both now and in the future as you implement your Peer Workforce Plan. Step through the SWOT Analysis Worksheet below.