Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) has developed a unique staff benefits programme for its 4,500-strong workforce. In early 2019, the hospital’s executive team asked staff to come up with ideas to improve their working lives – however big or small, however unusual. Hundreds of ideas came back – from pet day-care to a nail bar and everything in between.
The ideas were narrowed down by looking at those that would benefit the most staff equitably. The first phase of benefits, which were introduced in May 2019, included free car parking for all staff (with a commitment to also provide a guaranteed parking space in the longer term); free tea and coffee in all staff rooms; enhanced staff health and wellbeing services – particularly around stress and musculoskeletal conditions; enhanced bereavement leave, special leave and flexible working; and local gym memberships.
The hospital committed to a three-year programme of benefits for staff, with the next phase including lease cars and looking at childcare provision.
As a result, MKUH has also launched a wider campaign to support and promote flexible working in the NHS. The initiative, called FlexNHS, has involved social media influencers and a grass roots campaign to understand and overcome the barriers faced by staff in working flexibly, and progressing in their careers in part time and flexible roles.
The Flex Ambassadors scheme launched nationally at the end of 2019, with the campaign continuing to influence culture and policy on flexible working across the health service.