Headlines: October 24th, 2008

The Ministry of Justice has launched an initiative to engage its 80,000 staff who work in criminal justice policy, prisons and probation in England and Wales. The first web chat was held in July 2008 as part of a search to explore new ways to engage staff, covering all departments and regions.

Planning for the July web chat started in February 2008. The head of the Ministry and another board member took questions from staff on learning within the work place. The chat was broadcast over the Internet rather than the internal network, to appeal to a wider audience. Within an hour of launching, 1,000 respondents had asked questions about learning opportunities within the department. Questions were selected on the basis of appropriateness by a moderator from the specialist company, Chat Moderators.

The attraction of engaging staff in this way is that everyone can feel that they have an opportunity to take part, and it is very easy to do so. From the Board members point of view, they are get a feel for grass roots attitudes, which in more traditional processes, can be filtered out as messages progress up the management chain.

Jeremy Gould, head of internet communication for the MOJ, said: “The web chat seemed like a great way for us to engage in open discussion with all staff on a subject which affects our working life within the department.”

Following the success of the July event, it has been decided to hold another web chat shortly.