Blog post

Improving reward and retention with the Reward and Recognition Network

How attending the Reward and Recognition Network helped North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust improve its reward and retention.

10 March 2021


  • Stephen King
    Stephen King Organisation Development Facilitator at North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

Stephen King is organisation development facilitator at North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and leads on the trust’s welcome to NEAS induction programme. He supports the trust’s leadership training, values and cultural work, as well as reward and recognition. In this blog he shares with us what he has gained from being a member of the Reward and Recognition Network since 2018.

I have been a member of the Reward and Recognition Network for three years now, after joining in 2018. I heard about the network from my manager and other colleagues who had previously attended the session and I was given the opportunity go to a session to find out what other trusts were offering within reward. I was eager to attend with the hope of being able to gather knowledge and intel, to help enhance the reward and recognition offering within my trust.

When I first attended the Reward and Recognition Network,  I was keen to find out a bit about what is going on in reward. The NHS is a diverse organisation and dissimilar to my previous workplace within insurance.
The network is a good way of advertising and getting the word out to other employers about initiatives and incentives. It provides the opportunity to interact with others, bounce around ideas, and take any challenges you have, to gain support and advice.

After attending we redesigned our staff benefits video used during inductions, showcasing the many benefits you get from being an NHS employee.

The main challenge we face being an ambulance service, is that all our staff are spread out across a wide area. Most of these staff do not get a chance to be in an office environment and use computers to interact with what’s going on within the trust. As a result, we found it hard to communicate with these members of staff.

We have taken these issues to the Reward and Recognition Network and are adapting ideas from other trusts to fit with our trust’s needs. About a year ago, a network member mentioned that they had introduced electronic thank you cards, to thank staff for their work and to show recognition. We wanted to look at how we could include this to fit our trust, so we used our social media platform ‘Workplace’.

We incorporated the thank you card function into this platform so it would appear on a social wall similar to Facebook. The staff member, along with their manager then gets notified of the action. This function is now up and running with the option to thank staff virtually.

The Reward and Recognition Network has helped during COVID-19, it has been great a sounding board and a source of comfort, knowing that everyone is in the same boat, experiencing the same challenges and is trying to do best by their employees. It has allowed us to understand that we’re not the only ones going through these challenges and were not alone.

We have created ‘Help Hub’ on our intranet which has content on how to promote wellbeing, how to work well at home and provides learning resources for staff. We took this idea to the network and a few other trusts have adopted this idea in different ways.

Recently we have changed our weekly bulletin to a daily bulletin, taking into account how fast information and guidelines are changing at the minute during COVID-19. The help hub is mentioned in this bulletin to raise awareness of the hub and we also promote events. Our daily bulletin provides staff with ‘changes’ information and changes relevant to their roles. Our help hub provides support, articles and content that can help staff with health and wellbeing and with advice and guidance on the news ways of working that have come about since COVID-19. So things like, how to look after your wellbeing at home, how to work from home effectively, working from home when you have children and homeschooling.

I would recommend becoming a member of the Reward and Recognition Network, it has added value to my organisation as well as my own personal development and has been a great resource through these tough times.