Compact work and compliance – can one person really positively influence Compact compliance?

adam pickeringIn our work, we all like to think that we have a positive impact, but in some jobs it is harder to measure than others. This is the third in a series of blogs exploring interesting trends to emerge from our 2012 annual survey of local Compacts. In this blog, we delve deep into the data in an attempt to assess the impact of local Compact work.

In some jobs it is easy to know exactly what impact you are having. My early work experiences, whilst not particularly rewarding (either professionally or financially) did allow me to see the fruits of my labour. Actually, in one summer job, the “fruits” were literal and the labour was physical as I took an ill-advised posting in a supermarket warehouse preparing stock for the shelves.

My job was to cut melons in half as they passed by on a conveyor belt before they were sealed in cellophane. As other colleagues cleaved the fruit into perfect halves dexterously arching their 12-inch knife with efficient flicks of their wrists, I butchered cantaloupe with clumsy hacks. In this case, I could see the fruits of my labour and they were divided into fractions of whole fruit seemingly in any proportion other than ½. In short I could see that despite putting in a lot of effort I wasn’t effective at my job.

Luckily  for consumers of segmented fruit, I did not pursue my career in chopping melons. Instead, I concern myself with the implementation of the Compact. But when trying to appraise the impact of efforts to implement local Compacts I often wish it was as easy to assess outcomes as it was in the supermarket warehouse. 

Working to implement local Compacts requires tenacity - and the task of securing and justifying funding for Compact work is, given the financial climate, increasingly difficult. Many local Compacts are run without a dedicated budget and it has become increasingly difficult for even some of the most committed Compact advocates to give their professional time to Compact work.

But the Compact Voice annual survey 2012 has revealed that certain Compact activities and investment are associated with higher levels of Compact compliance, namely the recruiting of Compact champions and the funding of a dedicated Compact worker (either full time or part time).

Let me start, for reasons that will become apparent, with Compact champions. When I first looked for a link between Compact compliance and the recruitment of Compact champions it wasn’t immediately obvious whether all the effort involved in recruiting and training champions was having an impact. But, when I looked more closely at the data I discovered there was a strong link between the number of champions and the rate of compliance, with high numbers of champions being associated with high levels of compliance. Interestingly, areas which had low numbers of champions (between 1 and 9) had lower rates of compliance than those areas which hadn’t recruited any champions at all. 

This was particularly evident when looking at whether areas were giving three months’ notice if  making changes to funding and, as shown in the graph below, of giving twelve weeks for consultations. 


So the message seems to be that where local Compacts put real effort into recruiting Compact champions it has a big impact on the adherence of partners to Compact principles.

But on the other hand, the data seems to suggest that a half-hearted approach to recruiting (and presumably facilitating) Compact champions correlates with lower rates of compliance than having no champions at all. 

At Compact Voice we know from first-hand experience how hard some Compact workers work to implement their local Compact and how crucial their efforts have been in driving improvements. Thanks to responses to our annual survey of local Compacts, we can now attempt to quantify this impact.

The survey revealed that 27% of areas that reported compliance “most of the time” or “always” with holding 12 week consultations and giving three months’ notice for changes to funding had dedicated Compact support. Of the areas that reported compliance with the above principles either “some of the time” or “never”, only 6% had someone being paid to support the local Compact; so areas reporting better Compact compliance are more likely to have someone being paid to undertake Compact work,  and areas that are less compliant are less likely to have that resource in place.

It may be that investing in a dedicated Compact worker indicates an existing level of commitment to Compact principles from those areas that are allocating resources in that way. But from personal experience, I also know that the impact of having such a Compact worker in post can have a definite impact.

In future years, when we ask such questions in our annual survey, we will be able to measure the impact to those areas that have increased or decreased their dedicated Compact worker resources.  


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