Sally Nederpel, staff experience and wellbeing officer at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, talks about her team's work to develop a health and wellbeing passport for staff, helping them take control of their workplace needs and feel confident bringing their whole selves to work.
At the height of the pandemic, our trust worked incredibly hard to ensure our staff were being kept healthy and well at work. Like many organisations at that time, we found ourselves needing to redeploy staff or ask them to change shifts to meet ever-changing demands.
We started receiving feedback that highlighted issues around reasonable adjustments or personal needs of staff not being met – these needs may have been well known to their line manager but were not always passed on to managers of their new or temporary shifts. It meant staff were feeling they had to continuously share very personal information with new colleagues, and managers were struggling to understand and effectively support them.
We wanted to ensure staff felt they could bring their whole self to work. We also wanted to support managers in feeling confident to have the right conversations with staff and empower them to lead compassionately.
Our aim was to normalise everyone having a life outside of work that may occasionally affect them in work, and this may lead to them needing additional support...
Our aim was to normalise everyone having a life outside of work that may occasionally affect them in work, and this may lead to them needing additional support, even if only temporarily. Only by understanding this are we able to manage our staff effectively and make them feel supported and happy at work, and make sure they stay in work.
We developed the idea to provide something small and portable that staff could carry with them to help guide conversations, either with their line manager or a manager of a temporary shift. Ultimately, the health and wellbeing passport was born.
The passport was launched in September 2022 as a 12-month pilot. It was created in-house, while being mindful not to duplicate the disability passport. The only expense we encountered was printing of the booklets, which while small, did increase as we ran out of booklets much quicker than expected.
Staff can now get their own passport by speaking to HR or the occupational health teams. Our mental health first aiders and freedom to speak up guardians also do a fantastic job championing this. We do not give out copies to staff unless they ask for one. We want to empower staff to take charge of their own wellbeing and decide whether it's something they would like to introduce into their working life.
The main challenge we are facing is raising awareness of the passport among all staff. We advertise it where possible, there is information on our intranet and we are planning to include it in staff inductions, so new colleagues know where to get one and how to use it.
We've added the passport to our formal management training, to empower our managers to support staff compassionately in the best way they can...
Another challenge we've seen is some managers being a little reluctant to formally agree to work adjustments in writing or not feeling they have the authority to do so. To solve this, we've added the passport to our formal management training, to empower our managers to support staff compassionately in the best way they can, and in turn, feel supported by the organisation for doing so.
Despite a few challenges, the feedback we have received so far has been phenomenal. Our survey results asking if staff are feeling supported have improved, and the online feedback form is continuously delivering great results.
However, figures from surveys don’t always paint the whole picture. We have found it’s the informal feedback from staff and managers about the impact it’s having that’s the most important and rewarding. This feedback has led us to continue with the passport, now the pilot has come to an end.
We'll continue to review the passport and action the feedback to make it as relevant and useful as possible. We'll also continue to work hard and do all we can to help colleagues and managers feel supported and happy at work.