The NHS is first and foremost one huge team: We are 1.3 million strong. We are all walks of life, all kinds of experiences. We are the NHS.
And by working in teams, we can deliver much more: our jobs make a difference, and they are rewarding, but they can also be challenging and stressful. We need to give each other the space to innovate, to develop, and to learn – but also support each other when times are tough and celebrate success.
NHS staff have been challenged by the response to COVID-19 on a scale and at a pace not previously seen. These pressures have brought out the very best in our people – we have seen considerable numbers of clinicians returning to support the NHS during this period; teams previously unknown to each other now working together to support patients and service users; and our NHS workforce stepping forward to work on the frontline.
Similarly, leaders across the NHS have shown how compassionate and inclusive leadership behaviours keep teams safe and well. Flexible clinical leadership and distributed leadership have also proved to be more critical in recent months: we have worked across geographical, organisational, and structural boundaries at an accelerated pace.
We want to capitalise on this compassionate, inclusive and collaborative culture by building on the motivation at the heart of our NHS to look after and value our people by creating a sense of belonging.
To do this, we need to create an organisational culture where everyone feels they belong, and to have diverse teams who represent the communities and population they serve.
The NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated relationships across multidisciplinary teams and increasing appreciation of each other’s skills. Flexible and remote working also enabled teams to run virtual multidisciplinary team meetings, case presentations and teaching sessions. We want to continue this sense of belonging and collaboration, and being part of a broader team.
The quality of our work – and our collective commitment in line with the four pillars of the People Plan – is being recognised. We must recognise commitment, innovation and passion, and celebrate successes to do things well for #OurNHSPeople. And we want to thank each and every one of you for continuing to demonstrate our values and behaviours throughout these challenging times.
What initiatives can I take forward now?
We will retain our people by creating an open and honest culture where they’re comfortable enough to share how they feel. Here are some additional ways you can promote this kind of environment:
- Ask ‘how are you?’ and listen to the response. This demonstrates that you care about how others are, and that you care about the answer. During one-to-ones with your staff, rather than starting with the first item on a list of tasks, begin with an enquiry into that person’s health and wellbeing. It’s so important that we are inquisitive and show compassion for ourselves and one another. It can make a massive difference.
- #hello my name is… is an inspirational campaign founded by Dr Kate Granger. The feature is used to raise the profile of those working across our organisation and the different roles that we all carry out. It’s also a really good way of colleagues working in a large organisation like ours to get to know each other.
- Make use of the Health & Wellbeing support offers available to you and your workforce, including coaching, counselling, leading through COVID, among others. General staff support offers are also available, including support with finances, depression, bullying and harassment.
Use on-line support resources. – Check out people.nhs.uk. There are lots of useful resources on how to support yourself and others, leadership tips, short courses, well-being ideas and helplines.
The offers available online will continue to grow and develop so keep checking people.nhs.uk; there will be new comprehensive full leadership courses at different levels provided by the NHS Leadership Academy, ‘bite-sized’ learning materials and ways of connecting with others in virtual support and learning spaces by January 2021.
- Provide mentoring opportunities: give your team members the opportunity to learn something new or to pass on their own expertise. This can help them to build relationships, grow in confidence, and learn more about your organisation
- Offer work shadowing: encourage your team members to take an interest in other parts of your organisation by arranging work shadowing sessions. This provides them with a ‘taster’ of what people in other departments do and can even inspire them to think about different career paths within the organisation.
- Encourage people to give and receive honest feedback: provide your team members with regular feedback sessions so they can voice their opinions on issues that matter to them, as well as take on board those of other people.
Help us to help you
Do you have a success story or resource to share? Please contact us and let us know so we can make it available for everyone.