culture of compassion, Diversity, Leadership, NHS Leadership, Organisational development, staff engagement, wellbeing

Staff engagement – a matter of life and death part 2

The world of work is changing and our expectations of organisations and how we experience the 40 hours or more we spend working every week is changing.  Organisations that do not create environments where people can bring their whole selves to work will quickly find themselves without a workforce as people will make different choices.

Creating environments in which people feel their purpose is fulfilled, their passion is ignited and are proud to work in is the role of leadership in the 21st century.

My last blog post described the importance of staff engagement for the health of an organisation.  For an organisation like the NHS, it vital to have happy, proud, empowered staff as the levels of connectedness that staff feel in a healthcare organisation has been linked to the mortality of patients.

The happiness of our people is something that we work on every day however my personal belief is that the term ‘staff engagement’ is a passive term and instead we should talk about how we nuture our people to ensure that our staff feel involved, empowered and proud to be part of of our oganisation.

The 2016 NHS staff survey results are due to be published on 7 March 2017 and last year we took the approach that despite being the top in our category of acute and community provider, we were restless to improve our scores and so as well as celebrating and amplifying what went well we also acknowledged that there were 3 key areas that we scored in the bottom 20% on that we wanted to make a difference in, which were:

  1. Equal opportunities to career progression
  2. Staff experiencing discrimination from staff or patients
  3. Staff working long hours

We identified ways to support this at both a Trust-wide level as well as within the individual directorates.  Each directorate came up with their top 5 actions to support improving in the areas that their own staff had identified and as an organisation we have focussed on the top 3 listed above.  Througout the year we introduced the following:

Equal opportunities to career progression

  • managers to have ‘career coaching conversations’ with their team members during appraisals or other suitable times
  • Realising Your Potential conference for a cross section of staff with our partner trusts
  • Surveyed and ran focus groups with different generation groups (Baby Boomers; Generation X; Millennials and Digital Natives) to find out what is important to them to inform training and development (with more to come on this next year)

Staff experiencing discrimination from staff or patients

  • Leadership masterclasses on inclusion and unconscious bias
  • Unconscious bias training introduced into different training courses across the Trust
  • Violence and aggression campaign run in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police to support keeping our staff safe

Staff working long hours

  • Reduce our email usage culture and encourage ’email free Fridays’ and managers spending time out about in clinical areas with their staff
  • The Model Ward (Nightingale Project) which is rolling out standardised practice on the wards for the first hour and last hour of the day with a safety huddle in the middle of the day to ensure all staff start and leave their shifts on time.

A couple of weeks ago I took part in a webinar for the UK Improvement Alliance along with Caroline Corrigan from NHS England, talking about how to engage staff in change.  This webinar and introductory video focussed on some of the things that we have put in place to ensure that Guy’s and St Thomas’ is a place where staff feel proud to work.  If you missed it you can catch up here.

I hope that some of the things that we have experimented with this year have made a difference to our staff and to test this we have made sure we are full census for the next three years to ensure every one of our staff has a voice.  Watch this space for the feedback!

About the author

Sarah Morgan is the Director of Organisational Development for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.  An organisation in the English NHS with 15,000 staff that cares for patients in the London Boroughs of Southwark and Lambeth, across the South of England and both nationally and internationally.

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