Values and behaviours

Case study summary

“The pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that staff at the Royal Surrey were working flat out and often in a constantly changing and stressful environment. The trust implemented a programme of values and behaviours to help with providing supporting, recognition and respect between colleagues, and to emphasise to all that their hard work was valued.”


The Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust

What was the aim/problem?

During the pandemic the levels of pressure and stress experienced by staff led to a focus solely on maintaining operational delivery and patient care, with staff giving less thought to their own needs as they cared for others.

What was the solution?

The trust introduced a values and behaviours programme. This included a series of staff stories, showing how they lived the trust’s values, and celebrated the behaviours the trust wanted to encourage. This was supported by a staff charter – a visual representation of the behaviours, categorised in four areas:

  • Caring together
  • Learning together
  • Excelling together
  • Continuously improving

The trust introduced LoVE (living our values every day) cards; these could be filled in by any member of staff and given to another with a message giving thanks, as a way to remind people to appreciate and recognise each other. December 2021 saw staff using these cards to put words of thanks on a Christmas tree to celebrate colleagues and support systems.

Royal Surrey also introduced a ‘people promise’ giving five employee promises:

  • You will receive support, compassion and empathy from our leaders.
  • We will recognise and reward your successes and achievements.
  • You will be actively supported and encouraged to develop your career.
  • We will champion diversity and inclusion for all.
  • We will care for your health and wellbeing.

What were the challenges?

Launching a programme of awareness and culture change mid-pandemic when all staff were extremely busy was very difficult.

This required the use of a variety of engagement and communication methods, including the staff stories, LoVE cards and Christmas tree tags mentioned above, plus videos, intranet messages and having the campaign put on all meeting agendas across the trust.

The programme was integrated into development reviews, inductions, recruitment and recognition events so it became part of how all staff at the trust worked.

What were the results?

Feedback among staff was very positive. Colleagues have frequently cited the campaign and staff stories – particularly the LoVE cards/tags used at the end of year celebration, where around 2,000 were placed on the Christmas tree in one week. These are still talked about now, often kept on colleagues’ desks.

What were the learning points?

Firstly, that even when things are very busy and it seems a campaign will not be noticed or that people will not have time to read and engage, the reverse may be true: that a cultural programme reminding people of how valued they are by an organisation is most needed and most effective when staff are busy, exhausted and giving their all.

Also, multiple communication tools are vital to encourage engagement and embed approaches into everyday events, so this does not become a standalone exercise. Recruitment, appraisals and wellbeing conversations now all include elements of this work and the campaign will live on through these areas.

Next steps and sustainability?

Royal Surrey will continue to promote the LoVE initiative in 2022 and consider other platforms to provide opportunities to embed and communicate the programme’s values. These include manager support pods, staff networks and the team charter initiatives. The trust will focus on kindness, civility and compassionate leadership, linking in with the themes of the People Plan.

The PDR form has been further developed to capture employees’ views on equality and inclusivity and the quarterly People Pulse survey has been adapted to allow for a more targeted approach to staff feedback.

Want to know more?

Please contact Louise Hall or Tom White at the Royal Surrey, via Helen Fletcher at