Engaging the workforce

Client challenge

When it was placed in special measures following a CQC inspection, East Kent Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust embarked on an improvement plan to address concerns about organisational culture reported by its workforce of more than 7,000 staff.

Issues included a communication disconnect between leadership and staff and a high level of bullying and harassment.

Verve worked with the HR leaders over a six-month period to help develop and implement a culture change programme to reposition the Trust as an employer.

Our solution

Immediate steps included relaunching and strengthening the main staff publication, Our Improvement Journey, and creating comment cards to allow staff to offer their own suggestions about how to make the Trust ‘a great place to work’.

We helped shape the Respecting Each Other campaign to address the Trust’s bullying and harassment problems:

  • creation of a charter, given to every member of staff and a Respect booklet
  • pledges made by staff handprints, roadshows and articles to promote the campaign
  • a confidential helpline to report bullying and harassment
  • recruiting staff ‘buddies’ and training mediators to tackle conflict at work
  • a new managers toolkit
  • deep analysis of staff survey results to uncover particular ‘hotspots’ for inappropriate behaviour.

We wrote and produced a video, with hard-hitting messages that made leadership commitment clear and let staff know where they could seek support.  The film opens with real comments drawn from the staff survey, bringing to life the distress such behavior causes.

The Respecting Each Other campaign was also used to develop a new approach to team briefing, with an emphasis on face-to-face discussions and two-way dialogue to address complex issues and improve the cascade of information.

The outcome

Our work helped frame a difficult issue positively and focus on conducting internal communications in an open and forward-thinking way during a crucial time.

The NHS Staff Friends and Family Test (results from June 2015) showed that 92% of EKHUFT were aware of the Respecting Each Other campaign.

It also indicated an 8% increase in the year’s survey results in staff recommending the Trust as a place to work.

Respecting Each Other won the national CIPR #insidestory award for best change or transformation communication campaign.

“Verve’s support in helping us develop and implement a communications programme for our culture change was invaluable. In particular, the work they did on ‘Our Improvement Journey’ and the ‘Respecting each other’ video has helped us have a really positive impact on staff communication and engagement.” – Sandra Le Blanc, Human Resources Director

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