Engaging with staff to help improve wellbeing

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust tested ways to engage with staff and stakeholders when planning workforce wellbeing initiatives

What we’ve done

Who we are

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust offers a mix of acute and community services. We have three hospital sites with about 750 beds. Every year we treat about 135,000 people in our emergency departments, 120,000 inpatients and book 400,000 outpatient appointments. We’re one of the largest employers in our region, with around 6,800 staff.

What we did

Over a three-month period we used the Health and Wellbeing Framework’s diagnostic tool to collate information about all our health and wellbeing offers. We identified areas that we wanted to develop further. We then pilot-tested new initiatives and evaluated them over the next three months.

Central to this was hearing the voices of staff. We engaged with staff to gather evidence for our diagnostic tool and to help plan and evaluate our new initiatives. We did this by:

  • attending existing staff meetings, training days and events where we could highlight the support available and ask for feedback
  • standing outside the cafeteria to speak with staff as they passed
  • engaging with unions
  • working with a Health and Wellbeing Group of staff representatives from across the Trust
  • running joint initiatives with the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team
  • running events themed around National Awareness Days such as International Women’s Day
  • using a mix of face-to-face and virtual approaches

What we’ve achieved so far

  • We gained much richer information and prioritised different things after speaking with staff. As a result, we tried psychological debriefing, resilience training, expanded face-to-face counselling and virtual clinics to address work-related stress.
  • Evaluation helped us identify ways to increase the number of staff taking part in wellbeing support. For example, psychological debriefings for ITU and HDU staff were well regarded but not many people participated. We found that staff were struggling to find the time and mental capacity to engage, so we now run debriefings as part of existing ward meetings and huddles.
  • We developed a 2-year Health and Wellbeing Plan including all seven elements of the Health and Wellbeing Framework. The results of the diagnostic tool helped us identify which planned interventions should take priority and which could happen later in the programme. We will use the diagnostic tool at least once a year to track our progress. We are also developing a Leadership Strategy as we recognise the importance of people leading by example.

“Gathering staff feedback qualitatively can be challenging. Visiting the cafeteria worked as there is a lot of foot traffic, especially on Friday as this is fish and chip day! People didn’t mind spending a minute as they were walking past to say how they were doing and what support they would like. This was a good way of hearing people we might not usually have access to, from domestic staff to senior consultants.” – Trust representative

What we’ve learnt so far

  • Building our 2-year Health and Wellbeing Plan around the Health and Wellbeing Framework helped us organise our plan into seven evidence-based themes and provides the opportunity to continue using the diagnostic tool to monitor effectiveness.
  • It helped to think a little outside the box when seeking to engage staff. Engagement does not need to be formal, such as meetings and surveys. Approaching people in a corridor or café for an informal chat can help reach a wider range of people. We have an enthusiastic Health and Wellbeing Group who acted as critical friends and sense checked ways to engage staff, our findings from the diagnostic tool and what we planned to prioritise.
  • Buy-in from senior leaders is critical because they provided us with ringfenced time to prioritise workforce wellbeing and test new approaches. It can take years to change the culture, but buy-in is a crucial step.