Case Study

Assessing Needs in an Agency Providing Service to Marginalized People

Icon: Context

Just Outcomes was approached by a community service agency where the dissatisfaction of workers and mounting complaints about management was affecting service provision. A longstanding leader in the organization had left, and the new management was challenged in developing trust with the team. Turnover had become a huge problem, and divisions within the staff were taking root. We were asked to provide a needs assessment and a proposal for subsequent steps forward that were informed by the principles of restorative justice.

Icon: Approach

Standard approaches in cases like this often consist of determining blame and removing select workers or management from the workforce. A restorative approach encourages institutions to adopt a stance of listening, acknowledgment, problem-solving, and addressing the root cause of concerns. In many of these contexts, relationships are vital and need to be preserved.

Accordingly, we conducted in-depth, confidential individual and small group meetings with a cross-section of staff, and with leadership. This gave us a firm understanding of the many perspectives at play, how workplace culture had evolved, and what role it was playing in the current challenge.

Icon: Outcomes

After this assessment, we offered a 2-hour workshop to staff and management with the goal of identifying what we had observed in their workplace culture that was contributing to the current tension and stress. We proposed a way forward that included a model of diversified leadership in order to begin to rebuild trust and client-centered service, which was unanimously accepted by the staff.

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