Conversation workbook

The Trust

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust

The approach

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust reviewed their NHS Employee Survey results, where it was indicated that there were some inconsistencies to how line managers approached appraisals, and whether supportive and meaningful wellbeing conversations were taking place.

As a result, the trust co-designed and developed a conversation workbook which would sit alongside and complement their current system, with the aim of ensuring meaningful wellbeing conversations took place during employee appraisals.

A soft launch of the workbook began in April 2019, reminding colleagues and line managers that meaningful health and wellbeing conversations should be taking place and were aligned to the organisation’s compassionate values.

The results

After launching the workbook, employees were invited to share examples of what they think worked well, and where there were areas for development. Some comments included:

  • “the workbook itself provided a good structure and framework to help guide the conversation with useful prompts and questions and easy to read. It also allowed for preparation time and how to organise these thoughts and ideas. Afterwards, it also helped guide reflection on the subject raised”.
  • “in regard to the actual conversations, it was agreed that the structure also helped prompt two way conversations to flow and employee stated that the conversation felt person centred, they felt valued and supported”.
  • “on reflection, meaningful goals and objectives were clearly visible thus helping employee understand their place within our organisation. This also provided a clear structure for further check-ins and conversations”.

Suggested areas for development included shortening the workbook and offering an electronic version. One final key reflection was a request to ensure colleagues are offered dedicated, protected time to have wellbeing conversations and appraisals.

Lessons Learned

The trust outlined five top tips for any organisations wishing to follow a similar process and introduce a wellbeing conversation workbook.

  1. Senior leadership support – it is essential that leaders are supportive, cited on the work and are briefed on how the work aligns to strategic objectives and trust values.
  2. Engage and co-design – consider the use of creative employee engagement workshops to develop and design together.
  3. Establish an employee led group – identify key people and passionate advocates to support the work.
  4. Communication is key – secure support from the communication team, be prepared to cascade, brief, and promote at all levels.
  5. Review the work – build in reflection, audit, and review to ensure the desire outcomes are being achieved.

The next steps

The trust has now set up an ‘appraisal task and finish group’ to support the delivery of an internal employee survey to seek feedback from colleagues on their appraisal experiences. All employees will be encouraged to complete the survey once a year (following their annual review and compliance recording). Data from this internal survey will be downloaded locally and used to facilitate reporting and progress updates.

The trust is committed to improving employee experience and the quality of appraisals, understanding the links there are to performance, wellbeing, and continuing development. All of this is vital as our organisation seeks to develop a more compassionate and inclusive culture and continuously improve our services.