Developing a values driven culture


30 / 10 / 2009

The organisation

What we did and why

How we did it

Results and next steps

Top tips for other trusts

Contact details


The organisation

South Birmingham Community Health is one of the six Department of Health community foundation trust pilot sites. 

The organisation has an annual turnover of around £155m and provides not only the usual community services but also a range of specialist services, provided throughout the whole of Birmingham and the entire West Midlands region. This includes Birmingham Dental Hospital; children’s services throughout Birmingham; People with Learning Disabilities services throughout Birmingham; Neuro-rehabilitation services throughout the whole of the West Midlands and the MoD; and health services to Winson Green Prison.

What we did and why

The ultimate goal is for the organisation’s values to be an integral part of everyone’s working life, no matter what their individual role. 

Leading organisations and leading brands share many common characteristics and arguably the most important of these is achieving consistency between internal behaviours and external messages: to give them total credibility in the eyes of those who interact with them and utilise their services. 

In order to achieve this, staff need to be aware of, understand and be committed to the values of the organisation.  This is not something that is achieved overnight.  As part of the organisational development strategy approved by the Provider Board, the organisation set about a wide scale programme of, initially, consultation and engagement and latterly, communication and implementation.

How we did it.

The project was lead by the Director of Performance and Organisational Development, the Head of Communications and the Head of Organisational Development. 

The journey started  with the identification, development and agreement of a set of values that characterised South Birmingham Community Health (and before it, South Birmingham PCT Provider Organisation). 

This work was linked into a widescale consultation with staff about what our name and brand should look like.  A suggestion competition took place, a series of workshops were undertaken and an online survey was created which sought views from the entire workforce on a candidate set of values and resulted in 30% of the workforce responding in one form or another. 

Constructive debate then took place via smaller focus groups to prioritise and the two main values that staff wanted the organisation to be known for were “accessible” and “responsive”. 

In tandem to this work, a new brand and visual device were created to reflect these values, based around an acronym that all staff could remember ARCH – accessible responsive community healthcare.   

A set of values-based key messages for both internal and external communications were created so as to accurately reflect the personality and characteristics of the organisation.  Guidelines were produced and the “brand” was launched.

The six values that were chosen by the staff where:

  • Accessible
  • Responsive
  • Caring
  • Committed
  • Ethical
  • Quality

With the values agreed, 2009 has been about exposure to the values and “spreading the word”.  This has been possibly the most important step of all – to ensure that staff genuinely buy-in to them, understand what the values actually mean, and how they personally express and demonstrate them in everyday life, particularly in support roles where their contribution to patient care may not be obvious. 

Therefore a series of workshops, attended by some 350 members of staff, were held in July 2009.  A range of media was used – staff and patients/service users were video’d and asked to explain what they understand by each of the values which was very powerful; an exercise on what is entailed behind the scenes when serving a cup of coffee at the event venue was used as a metaphor for support roles in the organisation in delivering frontline patient care; and staff were given lots of pens;glitter; felt; pictures etc. and had a “Blue Peter moment” designing a poster for a given value in terms of what that word meant to them. 

The outputs of these days have since been used around the organisation and form part of the Team Toolbox as staff have found that the use of visual material has allowed them to remember the values better.

Staff were asked to volunteer if they wanted to be “Values Champions” and over 35 members of staff came forward as willing to “spread the word” in one guise or another and maintain the profile of the values.

Work in progress at the moment and into early 2010 includes:

  • Appreciative Inquiry is being used by the Values Champions to spread the word throughout the organisation.  It is based on a simple premise: every organisation has a number of things that work well – things that give it life when it is most alive, effective and successful bringing the whole organisation together to build on its positive core, as expressed in its values.
  •  Continuing on from the workshops in the summer, a team toolbox has been developed to allow teams of staff to have discussions at team meetings re: what do the values mean to me in my role and our team?
  • 2011 – 20th of November each year will be a day of celebration of the organisation.  This year the theme is “A day in the life of…” and will follow various members of staff around the organisation over a 24 hour period on 20th November to celebrate and heighten awareness of the vast diversity of the organisation and how their contribution reflects directly on the organisation’s values.  Staff are being encouraged to post on the intranet what they are doing or getting involved in on that day and inviting interested members of staff to their events to shadow or learn about a different area of the organisation.
  • The Personal Development Review is being revised to incorporate objectives based around the 6 values.
  • The videos of staff and service users/patients explaining why they feel values are important and what each value means has been placed on the intranet.
  • An A5 booklet is being developed detailing how values contribute to good patient care and to help staff to feel good about their organisation and why staff feel that South Birmingham Community Health is a great place to work : an organisation that supports and values its staff.
  • Lanyards detailing the 6 values have been purchased for every member of staff - this is also a very visible prompt for patients and service users.
  • Six values have become the default screensaver
  • Monthly campaign spending a month at a time looking in detail at each of the six values
  • A quarterly staff Recognition and Rewards evening has been established to celebrate anything that staff feel a member of staff should be congratulated on.  There are no categories but their contribution is linked to the values retrospectively when publicised to the wider organisation.

Results and next steps

This is a long journey and one which we are only half way through.  However, already staff feel more aligned to the organisation that they work for. 

Support staff, in particular, have found the workshops and material very powerful in allowing them to align what they do to the frontline delivery of patient care.

Through the use of ARCH, staff are easily able to recount the two main values that they wanted the organisation to be known for and are beginning to see the direct correlation between an organisation that has a workforce signed up to a set of values and delivery of high quality patient care.

There was a marked difference between the responses in the 2007 and 2008 Staff Survey.  The response rate was 63%: in the upper quartile.   Staff satisfaction is positive and improves year on year and staff metrics are above the national average for PCTs.  

Overall 23 scores out of 36 were average or above. Of which 16 scores were in the top 20% of PCTs.  Although this is not reflected in how the scoring is formulated, there has also been an improvement in satisfaction with more questions being answered as “strongly agree” from just “agree” where a positive statement is required, which signifies an overall increase in satisfaction.

The organisation has seen a 10% improvement in the staff’s view that “care of patients is Trust’s top priority” which is seen as an excellent result.

Tips for other trusts

Engage widely
  • Use different means of engagement to appeal to different communication and learning styles, i.e. auditory, visual, kinaesthetic
  • Use everyday metaphors from outside of staff’s working life to get messages over
  • Align, align, align
  • Contact details

    Joanne Thurston
    Director of Performance and Organisational Performance
    South Birmingham Community Health

    Tel: 0121 442 5642



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