Sustainable Work Systems

Sustainable Work Systems (SWS) is the union’s way of building more effective workplaces. It focusses on involving union members, delegates and management in a collaborative process that looks at how to improve work systems in your workplace.

It aims to build a culture in your workplace where staff and management work together to transform your workplace.

What does it look like?

In a SWS workplace, change is discussed and agreed collaboratively between the union members, delegates and managers. You jointly agree the problem. You jointly agree some possible solutions and you are able to implement these; monitoring results to ensure you achieve what you set out to improve.
Workplaces are transformed into places where the experience of the workers who actually do the job is valued and used to improve the work for everyone, and deliver what the customer/ client/patient really wants.

How does it work?

SWS can be applied to any workplace. The SWS tools can be used for small projects of limited scope and impact through to large cultural change across an organisation; it all depends on the willingness of members and management to work together to make the workplace more effective.

A SWS implementation usually follows these steps:

PSA members and delegates will agree with management that they want to work together differently. They then draw up a heads of agreement recording their commitments to joint governance, training, resourcing, employment security and a roll-out plan. This agreement is then taken out to members for their ratification.

The joint union/management governance team agree on a trial project. The project group and governance team undertake training on working together better and using analytical tools to improve the workplace.

This helps the governance group identify any problems that might be barriers to the further roll-out of SWS.

This training is usually done by a third party so that both managers and members can fully participate in the discussions and training.

Once the initial training has been reviewed, the joint governance team will begin the wider roll-out of SWS across the organisation. The aim is to make this way of working self-sustaining and, in the process of doing so, transform the workplace.

For smaller implementations, after agreement and training, the next step is to agree on any subsequent projects.

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