Cost-of-living support: data-driven approach

An example of a data-driven and evidence-based approach to support the financial welfare of the workforce.

5 April 2023

Due to the rising cost of living and its negative impact on staff, NHS organisations have been reviewing their current reward and benefit offers and have been implementing additional financial measures to support staff navigate through challenging times. 

Ali Webster, deputy director of organisational development, West London NHS Trust supported the financial wellbeing of its workforce by adopting a data-driven and evidence-based approach.

The trust launched a five-step method to investigate if the cost-of-living crisis was having an impact on their staff and if so, how, and where.

  1. Learn and understand.
  2. Open up.
  3. Lead the way.
  4. Develop a practical plan
  5. Measure success.

Listen and understand

In May 2022 a confidential survey was launched via Great with Talent. To ensure the survey was accessible to all staff it was available electronically and in paper format and its aim was to gather evidence to understand the impact of financial wellbeing on their staff and what would help them the most.

Open up

The survey findings allowed the trust to target interventions for specific groups within their organisation whilst also recognising the need for a review of all support materials based upon the evidence collated. The results from the research were widely discussed at their leadership forum, within focus groups and in-trust communications. The open communication aimed to remove stigma and ensure people felt safe and able to speak up.

Lead the way

Those that were identified as needing immediate support were referred to the organisations NWL Keeping Well Hub but to address wider issues highlighted within the data the trust ensured that a range of resources were available for managers. Training sessions were provided to raise awareness of the impact of poor financial wellbeing on staff. Support materials were designed to enable manages to sign post staff to the most appropriate support for them.

Develop a practical plan

The trust developed a plan of financial wellbeing support based on the identified needs of their workforce. Notably, targeted assistance was given to their estates and facilities staff as the data showed that employees within the group were skipping meals to help them to support their families. A free breakfast provision was implemented from August 2022 – March 2023 which was hugely successful.

Measure success

As the need for support with financial wellbeing is an ongoing challenge the trust has begun evaluating the success of the interventions. They have begun measuring the impact of each of their interventions as part of their health and wellbeing and reward and recognition strategies.

  • Re-survey in March 2023.
  • Review questions linked to whether the trust is taking financial wellbeing seriously.
  • Review number of staff opting out of NHS Pension Scheme. (A quarter of respondents said they intended to opt out).
  • Review attendance at financial awareness seminars.
  • Review take up of ‘Wage stream’ and other interventions agreed as part of their plan.

Benefits of a data-driven approach

  • Gives you time to reflect, plan and not make assumptions.
  • Enables staff engagement and ideas sharing.
  • Ensures business cases can be made based on evidence.
  • Removes the need to try and provide ‘everything’ to ‘everyone’.
  • Provides a clear focus for measuring outcomes.