The workforce development team at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) looks after areas that provide a holistic staff experience, including, staff health and wellbeing, retention, reward, policy development and workforce planning. The trust has successfully embedded the Total Reward Statement (TRS) into the employee experience, from induction through to retirement planning.
Kim Carter, senior workforce development manager and Claire Vesey, head of workforce development share their approach.
What the team does
We run pension sessions, mid-career sessions, and of course, pre-retirement courses for our staff. We often host external partners who deliver sessions for our staff, for example, Barclays bank regularly runs financial awareness sessions.
When a new member of staff joins the organisation, the staff benefit book mentions TRS and gives guidance on how people can access theirs. All the communications sent to staff from the workforce development team always includes a mention of TRS.
"At CNTW, TRS has always been treated as an integral part of our HR processes."
Before any session, we encourage staff to look at their TRS, related to the subject of the workshop, so they go into those sessions prepared. If people haven't accessed their TRS, by discussing it in the session, they leave the meeting thinking, 'I'm going to go and look at that'. After each session you're left with no doubt about the importance of the statement and why you should check it regularly.
We also have an external website called Thrive, where there's a lot of health and wellbeing, financial and employee assistance information. It's a one-stop-shop for all things that are important to our staff.
Don't wait until your staff are thinking about retirement
With CNTW being a mental health trust, historically, people would have been looking at retirement much earlier in their career, so we have a culture of having retirement discussions quite early on, in ward-based environments. If staff sign up to a pensions workshop, their TRS tells them what the pension contribution is for the year.
At the end of August each year, the statement is refreshed with any updates to your benefits. For most trusts, this is when a reminder to check your TRS is sent out, which usually triggers lots of staff to take a look, but other staff, particularly non-office workers, might miss this reminder.
When we hear on the news about energy bills rising, and hear about people having to work longer, I think we have to work with our staff to support them. Inevitably, some staff will find themselves in a position where they may have no choice but to retire and return. This could lead to problems, especially in patient-facing environments, if people have to stay longer than they anticipated in a physically demanding job.
Encouraging staff to access the reward statement regularly, can help people make those important decisions. Also the ESR portal makes it so much easier for staff to access now.
Make Total Reward Statements as accessible as possible
One thing that might put somebody off accessing their TRS, is not knowing what to do with it. We feel it could be made simpler to interpret and understand, therefore, we signpost people to further independent advice, vetted by the NHS, so staff feel more confident.
Our domestic staff are employed by a subsidiary company, so are slightly separate from trust's staff. Our subsidiary company provides iPads to people during working hours, who are not desk based or don't have access to a ward computer so they can log onto the ESR portal, book themselves on training and check their reward statement.
Room for improvement
There's always room for improvement. A significant proportion of our staff are over the age of 50, so naturally they are showing an interest in pension and retirement.
We’d like to switch our attention to the younger generation coming through. We have a responsibility to let people know why auto enrolment in the NHS Pension Scheme is so important. We also need to get them thinking about the future, considering at what age they might need to access their pension and how long they might have to work.
Nationally, there's room for improvement as well. Recently, national wellbeing phone lines and regional wellbeing phone lines have been set up to support staff – we'd like to see that extended to financial wellbeing too.
Kim Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Workforce Development Manager
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust