Culture Change - Gloucester's Golden Ticket

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27 / 4 / 2015 1.22pm

This year we are publishing a series of blogs related to our Do OD five priorities; one of which is culture change. 

Jamie Parker, Leadership & OD Lead from Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust, describes how his trust have used some different and innovative levers to engage staff. 

What’s your Golden Ticket?

Those involved in the annual survey will be a familiar with the annual planning meeting. The order of the day is to discuss how we distribute our NHS survey and strive to get a high staff response.

Since 2008 when only 28 per cent of staff completed our survey, we have steadily improved our response rates and now consistently hit over 60 per cent of colleagues sharing their views; putting us in the top 20 per cent of trusts. That success was built on a team effort from colleagues from our communication team, post room, HR and the legions of leaders who encourage, pester and harangue their teams into completing their surveys.

2014 saw the launch of the staff friends and family test and we were concerned that survey fatigue would have an adverse effect on how many colleagues would be prepared to return their surveys. Using nudge principles we would again send weekly updates to leaders, showing how many more people had shared their views and how this compared to other teams, with the aim of fostering some competition.

We were aware that this year we needed to be innovative and up our game; ‘we’ being Emma our team administrator, Sarah our communication lead and me. We talked about how we’d been victims of our own success, as everyone knew what to do and so our planning team now only consisted of us three. So how could we be different? The outcome of that conversation was to have a profound impact on changing the narrative that surrounded our annual survey.

Our new approach

Could we incentivise? Yes. Could we do it for free? Yes, we could approach local organisations that would be willing to offer a free gift to our 7,500 staff.  

Do we offer gifts to people for completing their survey? No. That is what usually happens. The prize is conditional and it is a transaction, that is, you complete a survey and you get entered in the draw. We wanted to break from the norm and change the narrative. So how about we just give away a prize? You then decide if you complete our survey. We can do better than that, if you don’t like your prize, you can give it away – to a colleague, friend or family member.  

Hang on a minute, what’s the benefit? There is none directly, but we are not talking about a transaction. There are random acts of kindness by colleagues every day across our hospitals; this can be our random act of kindness. So we agreed, there is no catch, you just get the prize. It is a thank you for your daily hard work, for completing your survey last time, if you did so and more importantly, it fits with the culture we have and want more of.

Could our survey supplier help us? Quality Health were fantastic, they embraced the idea and despite the extra work, and didn’t charge us a penny. This ‘doing the right thing for free’ idea was taking off. 

Next steps

We approached local organisations, asking for seven prizes that they would be happy to donate for free, one of each of our divisions; that way one person in each division could win. The local organisations were very generous; prizes included tickets to a European rugby match; a hamper; a haircut and a day at the races, to mention a few. We designed a simple golden ticket that Quality Health kindly inserted in seven random envelopes. The ticket had a phone number and a code. You ring the number on the ticket with your unique code and claim your prize.  

Next we launched the approach at meetings with leaders, with our divisional engagement groups and to delegates on our leadership programmes. It’s fair to say that there were doubters, with concerns being voiced that it wouldn’t encourage more people to respond. So we took the time to explain that it was not about encouraging people to respond, rather that we were reflecting the day to day altruism in our hospitals; it was about saying thank you, because that was the right thing to do. With Sarah’s help we made the golden ticket a core part of our marketing campaign.  

Most prize winners chose to remain anonymous, but through the grapevine we were hearing that people really liked what they won. Then three more local organisations offered prizes; two were placed in reminder envelopes and the third was included in a lucky dip we organised in the staff canteen. The lucky dip winner was thrilled and promptly donated their prize: a day at a farm park, to a colleague with children – absolutely in the spirit that the golden ticket was conceived. This lady’s generosity was featured as a story in our staff magazine.

One prize remained unclaimed, but that didn’t matter. We were having different conversations about our survey. Did you get a golden ticket? What did you win? Do you know someone who did? What’s the catch – you mean there isn’t one?

Our approach was intuitive and instinctive. I subsequently discovered it met that key elements of dialogic OD, when I attended the excellent DoOD ‘Putting theory into practice’ (in March), where Maxine Craig outlined the key elements as:   

  1. create disruption
  2. be different
  3. change the core narrative
  4. generate new ideas and compelling alternatives for thinking and acting.

So we have started a different dialogue, our challenge is how we can build on this.

Thank you,


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