Using an online staff platform to change values and culture.
A case study from Towards commissioning for workpalce compassion: a support guide, reproduced with permission from NHS England.
Ensuring positive staff experience and providing support for all staff is part of our annual priorities and is linked to the Trust's strategic objectives. We have put in place numerous initiatives to support this objective. In staff surveys in previous years though, many staff have reported not feeling valued and we wanted to find out why. During engagement sessions we were disappointed to hear that staff felt that the Trust simply was not doing enough to look after them. We couldn’t ignore the feedback we received from staff.
In June 2016, in collaboration with Clever Together, we launched ‘Your Voice Our Future' (YVOF), a dedicated crowdsourcing platform for staff, in which every member of staff could logon and have open, honest discussions on various topics, and share their ideas, comments and votes. We aimed to ensure all staff felt valued, listened to and involved in changes within the Trust.
Staff have shared discussions on a wide range of topics from information management, recognition, health and wellbeing, to leadership and behaviours. As a direct result of the discussions on the staff platform we have made further changes in the Trust, such as a refresh of the Trust’s behaviour framework and the creation of a ‘leadership promise’. More staff now feel that the Trust is listening and communicating on a regular basis.
What we did
We realised we needed an online tool as staff are geographically spread across Norfolk, so that all staff could contribute and participate in ‘conversations’. We created the role of Staff Engagement Manager with a one year secondment to lead on the development of a culture of positive staff engagement and involvement, including the development of the online platform. An important feature of this new role was an open recruitment approach with an advert to all staff in the Trust, with no grade banding attached. We wanted to get the right person, their grade and substantive role wasn’t important.
From discussions on the platform we are able to gather more information from staff about their thoughts about leadership and behaviours in the Trust. Comments received included: ‘managers do not always demonstrate supportive, fair and compassionate behaviours’; ‘some of our leaders lack the required skills to consistently ensure we are happy and healthy at work. We therefore created a Leadership Promise for all our leaders to align to and our behaviour framework was refreshed and incorporated into our appraisal system.
Why we made this change
Our staff engagement score of 3.71 in the 2016 NHS Staff Survey wasn’t where we wanted it to be. Engagement sessions conducted by the CEO had low attendance rates and other previous staff engagement events had participation rates of less than 10%. With the introduction of YVOF participation has continued to grow, with around 30% of staff participating in the online conversations.
How we did it
For the creation of the online platform, we collaborated with Clever Together and generated interest within the Trust using a multi-channel communication approach, created new engagement branding for social media, and staff received information posted to their home summarising our plans and inviting staff to get involved in a positive and constructive conversation.
To make changes to the behaviour framework, 700 staff participated in workshops to refine the framework. To embed the behaviour framework across the organisation to all departments, staff engagement has become a mandatory training subject for 2017-2018 with the creation of a workstation including a video, interactive activities highlighting the Trust behaviour framework and information about support that is available for staff.
What we hoped would change
We hoped that staff would feel they always had a ‘voice’ and could always contribute towards improvements in their workplace.
The value the organisation gained from just the first few online conversations alone could not have been predicted. During a 20 day campaign, more than 900 staff posted 8,500ideas, comments and votes. Staff from every corner of the Trust joined in the online conversation - every band, directorate and staff group. In our latest staff survey (June – September 2017) staff engagement increased to 3.85 (Trust average) from 3.71 in the national NHS Staff Survey 2016, which is above the national average for Community Trusts.
What we are doing next
The online campaign is now a regular event every quarter throughout the Trust. Some teams have used the online platform to have team specific conversations. For example, in one locality they continuously have ‘Your Shout’ with which staff can voice ideas for improvements. We are now relaunching the way in which we recognise and acknowledge staff in the workplace, with an annual awards ceremony, thank you cards and badges of recognition amongst our latest changes.
For further information contact: Laura Palmer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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