How do I find out what issues are affecting members in my workplace?

One-to-one contact

The simplest way to find out what issues are affecting a member is through one-to-one contact: ask them. Think about when you spend time chatting informally to your colleagues in your workplace. It's a good idea to have some sense of which issues you think may be important but also remain open to what else they may suggest. For that reason, it's important to listen. As a rule of thumb, you should ensure that you only talk for 20% of the time and listen for 80% of the time. Make sure that you use open questions that begin with how, why or what, rather than closed questions. A closed question only allows the respondent to give a yes or no answer. An open one will give you much more information.

Meet and talk to others

Organise small department or workplace meetings to ask members what issues they have. They don't have to be formal. You could simply meet in a common area over tea and coffee. You can also hold more general meetings that are open to potential members as well as members. This is a good way to recruit new members.

Conduct a survey

If you want to find out about issues on a wider scale than your immediate area of work, you could conduct a survey. You can do this electronically or on paper. You can include questions that will give you more information such as what sort of jobs members do, which building/department they work in, their age/gender, or anything else that might be useful in building a picture of the people you work with and their issues. You could ask others to help you carry out the survey. This will share the workload and give you a chance to get to know other UCU members a bit better. You can also use the survey as a recruitment tool if you circulate it amongst potential members as well as members.

Who else is a member?

Do you have a membership list? If so you can analyse this to see where new members may have joined. This may indicate an issue in a particular area. Phone one of the newer members and organise to go and have a coffee with them to have an informal chat about their department.

Last updated: 25 September 2007